Cardio equipment? Check. Towel service? Check. Group exercise schedule? Check. Liquor license? Pending.

 Though the license hasn’t arrived yet, the owner of a new California Family Fitness club expects everything to be in order to serve beer and wine when its latest facility opens its doors later this month in downtown Sacramento. 

The initial gut reaction many people would have to such news: Drinking while working out? Are they crazy!?

No, not really. I think it’s a fine idea. Not to say that I would go to the gym just to have a drink, but I admire the club’s thinking. Why not have a beer after a workout? Because it’s not healthy? 

If you want people to work out, creating an environment that idealizes the health-nut lifestyle just isn’t going to cut it. For too long, the gym has been about fitness only, a place where acknowledging anything unhealthy is taboo. Today’s health clubs understand that that’s a poor business model. 

You’d have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of The Biggest Loser weight loss “reality” show, a show often critiqued for how unrealistic it is. Given the right resources and support, and complete isolation from the rest of the world, it’s easy to shed a hundred pounds or so, but what happens when these people go back to their homes and can’t figure out how to reconcile an exercise routine with their previous lifestyles? They break down. 

Fitness shouldn’t be an activity isolated from everything else in our lives. It should be as integrated and as natural as catching a movie with friends or grabbing coffee on the way to work. Anyone who does something to encourage that thinking should be applauded.

"At California Family Fitness, we want to provide our members with a sense of community, and offer them a place where they can work out, unwind and if they choose, enjoy a beverage with friends," says company president Randy Karr.

Does that really sound so bad? Many of the amenities commonly offered at today’s health clubs are only loosely related to the concept of getting fit — the hair and nail salon, the hot tub, the boutique — they’re all distractions from the dreaded workout, a way to feel good. (Fine, they’re revenue generators, too.)

At least people can pretend that a massage is good for their health, but beer? That crosses a line! And it should. Part of a healthy lifestyle means admitting that not everything in life is healthy. It’s about finding a balance between the good and the not-so-good. 

So here’s to California Family Fitness, and all of the other health clubs doing their part to make fitness more appealing to the masses. 

P.S. To any Planet Fitness operators who might be reading this: Rewarding members with donuts and pizza is still pushing it.  

 

Emily Attwood is Managing Editor of Athletic Business.