I was wrong about fitness centres, and the people using them

I used to detest and despise going to the gym, thinking that it is the most boring form of exercise in the planet. When I was in Hong Kong, whenever I walked past the glass windows of fitness centres in commercial buildings, I would privately sneer at the people I saw running on treadmills. “Do they have a problem? Are there no better things to do than trapping themselves here running like caged mice on wheels?” Surely, exercising outdoors, be it jogging, biking, tennis or whatever, is a whole lot more fun.

Now that I am going to the gym almost on a daily basis, I can see how prejudiced I was. I see this change of views as having anything to do with cognitive dissonance, Leon Festinger's social psychological theory which posits that humans seek to adjust their attitudes and actions to ease their mental discomfort caused by internal psychological inconsistency. It is just that, eventually, after my firsthand experience, I am able to see what an interesting place a fitness centre really is.

Given Charlottetown’s small population, it is rare that one would find a place with a lot of visitors. But the fitness centre is definitely one such place. Regardless of which time of the day or which day of the week I go there, there are always quite a lot of people. And very different people, too. People of different ages, sexes, races, size and shapes. They do different exercises and engage themselves in different manners. While they may or may not have specific goals like myself, what is obvious is that they are looking to make physical improvement through their physical effort. And a fitness centre, with a full range of equipment, workout data, programs and personnel, is the perfect place to achieve that. That is probably why this gym I go to is one of the most visited places in small Charlottetown.

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