As we all know social practices and idiocies, but we repeat ourselves, start over there and cross the Pond with a perhaps decade long delay. We should thus gird ourselves for the latest of these, the terrors of exercise inequality.
Early on weekday mornings, I often find myself panting and sweating beside strangers in a dark room. Riding stationary bicycles with nightclub music blaring in my ears isn’t my idea of fun. But I turned to Flywheel’s spinning classes after the YMCA next to my office shut down, and now I’m hooked.
The draws for me are the ruthless efficiency of 45 minutes of grinding interval work and the fitness returns — running is a lot easier since I started spinning. The studio is also just a short walk from my house.
Lately, though, I’ve been questioning my reliance on this luxury studio, and wondering what exclusive gyms like Flywheel and SoulCycle mean for America’s epidemic of physical inactivity.
We are told that the poor take less exercise than the rich. Without any adjustment being made for the higher probability of manual labour among the poor of course. Those upper middle classes seem not to realise that some do still earn with the sweat of their bodies, not just their brains.
Then we have the laments about how the poor don't have as much access to leafy parks as the rich - entirely true, richer areas do tend to be better provided with such. Rather because richer people move to such areas but still.
And then the insistence that this is an inequality that should not stand. Why, to join one of these gyms might cost $100 a week (yes, we know, Veblen Good or what?) and the poor are just left with no parks and only the dangerous streets to cycle upon.
At which point we might note what it is that the privileged are actually exercising upon. A stationary bike in a room. A stationary bike costing some $130 these days when not on sale. And we're really pretty certain that the boom box for the music is a pocket money sort of cost these days.
No, it isn't true that the poor are left gaining their only exercise possibilities in dodging rent collectors. Thus this idea of exercise inequality is one of those American imports we can probably do without. But sadly, we'll get it anyway, won't we?