Gyms, it seems to me, have become the church of narcissism. Nothing controversial about that statement, but it’s probably the wrong word to use ‘church’, as my real issue with gyms is that it seems like one of the places within cities where people congregate to enjoy a shared activity yet are entirely isolated from each other and rarely interact. This is not helped of course by ipods and noise isolating earphones. Many people probably like this isolatory, yet focussed way of behaving, and would find talking to other people, or making new friends unwelcome. But doesn’t it beg the question as to whether modern day gyms are kind of missing a trick?
What if gyms harnessed the power of social networking to enable members to find other members like them, or members with similar goals, or members who already know each other, and thus provide a way of scheduling shared context for an old friendship. Surely the opportunities outway the potential downsides? If you look at the resurgence and reinvention of ‘members clubs’ or gentlemen’s clubs in London and New York in the last decade, you could pose the argument that places like Soho House are eating into gym’s share of the pie by providing a cheaper annual fee but with a far enhanced social experience (and a modest gym). The Hospital in Covent Garden even has its own online social network.