Zombie Fitness: The Downfall of the Commercial Gym


Two years in a commercial gym have driven me to a point of disillusion with everything it stands for; pushy sales people, rolling contracts, the promotion of sugary bars and ‘glow in the dark’ energy drinks, abdominal machines, abs classes, abundant cardio machines (with TV screens) and choreographed classes.  Don’t forget the satisfaction people have with their poor weight-training technique and their lack of willingness to learn anything different.

It is what I call ‘Zombie-Fitness’ where people sign up having seen the usual components they expect from a gym; cardio, weights, stretch area and studio.  Then they just come in and do what convention tells them to which is one or all of the following

  1. 3 sets of ten on a collection of weights exercises
  2. 30-40 minutes cardio followed by some pointless abdominal exercises
  3. A Les Mills class

Of course a protein shake afterwards and it’s off home.  The choreographed classes epitomise Zombie Fitness where you simply turn-up (and set up in the case of BodyPump) follow the leader then leave (often without even saying goodbye to the instructor).  Heck you could have had someone on a TV screen telling you what to do and showing you the routine.  At least with Spinning® we aim to be proper teachers giving a different style of workout every week and providing an element of autonomy over which riding technique you select, provided you are in the right cadence range and energy zone.  Going back to the original point the outcome of Zombie Fitness is as follows

  • There is no or little interaction so the social element is removed.
  • Circuit classes where there is more interaction, do not get a look-in because only Les Mills  instructors are getting paid.  Circuit-Training, or Metabolic Conditioning, provides the best mix of weights and cardio allowing us to achieve our results a lot quicker.

The end result is that people get bored, lose motivation and not before long, leave the gym.

There is however light at the end of the tunnel.  It seems that such gyms are now promoting new styles of training that break from the norm, using different names like functional-training, HIIT Training or MetCon.  Fitness First are calling it Freestyle Training and are now outlining dedicated freestyle areas like the one below.  This is why I have chosen to stay put but now it takes the general gym-goers to come out from the ‘dead’ and embrace this style of training more, not just because it is more effective but because the collective nature of these workouts create more social interaction, enjoyment and fun.


The style of Metabolic Conditioning that I shall be teaching soon is TACFIT, or Tactical Fitness where we aim to also address mobility and flexibility to help keep you injury free.  We keep the exercises limited so that you get better and better with time, sometimes in the same workout, as opposed to traditional bootcamp or ‘Insanity’ where there are just too many exercises, thus preventing the body and nervous system to adapt to a certain move.  Remember, sufficient variety may be good to work different muscles and keep you interested but a degree of consistency is also required to facilitate neural drive and help the body adapt to a new stimulus.

Again, going off the topic a little but my hope is that you can understand the existence of Zombie Fitness and how we need to be aware of it.   I don’t want to discourage people from classes so keep enjoying them.  Just implement two things:

  1. Accept an instructor’s offer of engagement whether it is to cheer or clap, or simply take a feedback form and fill it out.
  2. Open your mind up to circuit-training and of course read up on TACFIT at RMAX International.