Monday, 11 January 2016

Cheating your way to better health?

Saturday morning, as I was leaving the gym after (yet another glorious!) Pilates class, a girl of about eight or nine entered the gym, looking shy and very unsure of herself.  She was dressed in a beautiful party dress and silver, glittery shoes, so obviously not intending to do any kind of workout, and was constantly looking back over her shoulder towards the parking area as she approached the reception area to have her gym card swiped.  For a brief second I felt like walking up to her and asking if she needed any help, but before I could open my mouth, she took the swiped card back from the receptionist, made a u-turn back to the gym entrance and hopped into a silver Volkswagen Kombi, which was idling in front of the gym with the driver, her dad, gesturing instructions from the driver's seat.

And suddenly it all made sense: Her dad obviously a) didn't want his subsidised gym contract to expire (if you log less than a set minimum of workouts per year - something ridiculously low like three per month - members of a certain medical aid lose the benefit of a subsidised gym contract), or b) wanted to get his daily dose of points from his medical aid for "logging a gym workout" (the more points you "earn" per year, the bigger benefits you have access to).  But, instead of manning up and actually doing a workout,  or at least getting out of the car and doing the cheating himself, he used his 8-year-old to lie on his behalf, log an imaginary workout and in the process set a shocking example to his child about taking responsibility for one's own health and fitness.  Tragic.

It's never too early to set a good example!

No doubt that this dude goes to bed at night feeling very smug about his ability to cheat the system.  And yes, I know that there are thousands out there who do the same and shrug it off as "no big deal".  Too bad that they're overlooking one vital and undeniable truth: The fact that you can't cheat your way to better health or fitness, cheat your way to feeling great, or cheat your way out of illnesses associated with inactivity and obesity.  Tragic indeed.  


  1. I think some people miss the point of getting into these loyalty programs - its suppose to motivate you to get active and keep a healthy lifestyle. I quit my gym membership because I just prefer to run outdoors, and found it costly to pay for a membership that I just wasn't using to its fullest potential.

    1. My point exactly, Meg. One of my pet peeves for sure :) .

  2. That's not good parenting right there. If you're going to sign up at a gym, at least go and invest in your health and that of your children.

  3. You're so right, it's so easy to think that you're bucking the system when all you're doing is cheating yourself.

  4. I believe we can see the glass half full or half empty.

    I was bucking the system in last year. I needed to swipe my gym card 6 time before the end of December otherwise my 80% discount would diminish to only 50%. Some of those swipes ended in a work-out, some didn't but either way I was more active (gym wise) than I would have been.

    I have every intention and in fact, I have been to the gym a couple of times (okay twice) in 2016. But I am making an effort to keep the account active and if I wanted to be a complete couch potato, I could simply cancel my contract.

    I agree, bucking the system isn't the right way of going about it and I do believe some people are always cheating - but that's not all of us. Some of us simply had a hectic couple of months / lacked the support of a partner or were busy with other fitness activities, making gym slightly less of a priority. Either way, I believe if your intentions are right and you can get your mindset right - you'll be sorted.

    I don't agree with sending a kid to do your swiping, though :)

    1. It was really interesting to read your perspective - thanks, Alet!

      I certainly agree that there are seasons/chapters in all our lives (usually the difficult, stressful ones) when visiting the gym slips a few notches on our priority lists. Although experience has taught me (often in hindsight!) that those are exactly the times when a workout can work wonders with helping to let off some steam!

      But I still think that a big chunk of the cheaters (the majority, maybe?) simply procrastinate and don't make an effort to schedule and then log regular workouts (which are more beneficial, fitness and health-wise, than infrequent, sporadic ones) and are then forced to log an unrealistic number of workouts in a short period of time in order not to lose their medical aid benefits and, as a result, log cheat workouts.

      I've sadly also noticed that this isn't limited to the gym-points system: Even at our beloved local parkrun there are individuals who claim to have completed the entire 5 km distance (when fellow parkrunners have seen them cut the distance short) and also then claim their incentives and rewards (which are only meant for persons making an effort to complete the entire distance), even after being requested not to do so.

      And it is this mentality that I struggle to understand: Making an effort to obtain something that isn't rightfully yours (i.e. rewards and incentives) for the sake of having these material things, when, in actual fact, it is quite obvious that the bigger and most valuable reward for logging regular and complete workouts is better health and fitness. And I find it mind boggling how so many people choose to cheat themselves out of it.


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