The Responsibility to Stay Fit

“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable”

– Socrates

Wise and interesting words from Socrates. If I were to update it for the 21st century I’d replace the word “man” with “one / person” and I’d add that no government has the right to let its citizens be amateurs in the matter of physical training.

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Looking good Socrates

I do believe Governments should help their citizens stay fit and healthy. There are many so called “mismatch diseases” that are a direct result of our sedentary lifestyles, things like obesity, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease. These serious disorders share several characteristics: They’re chronic, noninfectious, aggravated by aging and strongly influenced by affluence and culture. Modern medicine has come up with treatments for them, but prevention, by combating the sedentary lifestyles that lead to these problems, could work just as well.

If people had access to free or subsidised gyms now, then they are less likely to suffer from mismatch diseases in the future. This could be a way to reduce future Health Care costs, or at least, free up space and resources for those people that need treatment. While in San Francisco I came across an outdoor, free gym, that has everything you need to stay fit and healthy, all in one place, with instructions on the wall. I’d love to see spaces like this all over the country.

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Best free gym I’ve ever see – San Franciso
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Jeans and no top, this was an unplanned visit

There are of course many potential problems. Assuming Health Care has a fixed budget, subsidising gym memberships means diverting spending from the old and sick to the young and healthy for a payoff that won’t be seen for 20 or 30 years, what politician would back that? Can the government force you to exercise? And how do you monitor what type of training people are doing, I don’t what what my taxes subsidising a bobybuilder who, despite training a lot, is still on a collision course for mismatch diseases.

Exercise can be expensive and time consuming, while the responsibility ultimately rests on the individual, its would be nice if governments stepped in to make it that be easier.  Really what I want is a free gym 🙂

Gym Review: Basecamp Fitness

I recently went to Basecamp Fitness in San Francisco. Basecamp is a class based gym, you come to do the class, and nothing else. I do like this growing trend of class or exercise specific gyms, assuming you can pay per class (even though they all encourage membership) it lets you pick and choose to get the best of everything.

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Lots of natural light coming in the window

The Basecamp class is simple, 35 minutes of training, push as hard as you can, no rest, burn it, earn it, and then you’re done for the day. Its broken down into one minute exercises. One minute on the bike, and then a 10 second transfer to another exercise, one minute of that, then a 10 second transfer back to the bike. And on its goes for 35 minutes. The exercises that you are meant to be doing when not on the bike are displayed on the screens around the gym, simply look at the screen where you can see a video of what you should be doing, and the instructor will advise also.

Not everyone is doing the same exercises at once. At the beginning of the class you’re paired up and assigned a letter. My partner and I were assigned the letter A. When I was on the bike, he was doing an exercise, and vice versa. To know what exercise we should be doing, just look for A on the screen and do that.

There is a variety of exercises, bent over dumbbell rows, bicep curls, push-ups, figure 8’s with a weight plate, and so on, so its kept very interesting. By the end of the class I was exhausted and felt I got a great workout done. The staff are also friendly and energetic. If I lived in San Francisco, I’d be a regular.

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Agreed

One cool novelty, the headphones. Through the headphones you hear thumping beats and the instructor, although she wasn’t so far away that you wouldn’t hear her anyway.

One drawback, no changing rooms. The toilets have to double up as changing rooms. I was the only person to use the toilets as a changing room, everyone else arrived at class in gym attire.

There were also a few ab drills after the 35mins so its not strictly a 35min class. Final verdict, I bought a jumper as a memento, that says it all.

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Bikes and equipment
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Loving my headphones

 

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