Perhaps as a cause or a consequence of the society in which we live in, one in which life is seemingly just one long day, with pit stops for naps along the way – the need for 24-hour services has been increasing steadily.
This is in addition to an almost renewed vigor and interest in exercise and fitness. Exemplified in that there has been a 25 percent increase in the number of gyms and health clubs in the UK since 1996. In fact, almost 40% of the British population are now gym members.
“Gyms have to evolve,” said Mr. Montgomery, owner of a 24-hour gym in Hillmead, Sussex. “You have to give people what they want.” In light of this, the United States has championed the 24-hour gym movement – something that the UK is now catching up with. A growing number of gyms now keep their doors open throughout the nighttime hours. Pure Gyms, for example, has a total of 18 round the clock gyms.
“It’s so convenient,” said Clement Marfo, a recording artist whose working hours are often variable. “There’s times when you want to stick to a routine where you go every day, but sometimes things clash… you still want to be able to have the opportunity to go.”
“It won’t be normal for most people,” said Matt Schwartz, a music producer. “But for people like me it’s useful to have somewhere you can work out at any hour of the day,” he added.
This is also the case for 4.1 million employees who work nighttime shifts: around 17 percent of all employees in the UK. This is similar in the US, where 5 percent of all gym members exercise from 8.30pm to 5.30am.
Not all are convinced by the element that it is supremely convenient, however.
“What’s wrong with sleeping?” said one perplexed individual. “All this run, run, run culture – it’s exhausting. We need to slow down!”
Statistics do in fact suggest that sleeping in the nighttime hours is healthier than the sleep you get in the daytime hours, this is due to changes in the bodies ‘hormone of darkness”, melatonin. There are also an abundance of studies that suggest that being awake during the nighttime increases the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
As the absence of nighttime gyms does not, however, affect whether or not people are awake and working during the nighttime hours, it could be argued that for as long as people do have to work during those hours – 24-hour services such as the gym should be available.
There are also many concerns about the gyms themselves, with many raising the issue of safety in criticism of the projects. “You couldn’t have it in town,” said one worried gym goer. “You’d get drunks going in wanting to be macho and injuring themselves.”
This is of particular concern due to the fact that during the nighttime hours the gyms are generally under or unstaffed. Members can enter the gyms by entering a pin number to gain access to its buildings, even once the gym staff has finished their shifts. The gyms combat this worry with reassurance that there are assistance call buttons, 24/7 CCTV coverage and direct links to emergency services.
Many, such as the licensing chiefs in Edinburgh are not satisfied with this explanation however, and argue that this arrangement poses a “significant risk to public health and safety.”
Some also suggest that it would encourage antisocial behavior, with reports of a 24-hour gym in Ealing receiving many noise complaints due to the sound the heavy weights made when dropped to the floor.
It is evident; therefore, that there are a number of concerns surrounding 24 hour gyms. The fact that they are required in a culture and in countries which pride themselves as the cities that never sleep are another matter entirely. Perhaps if gyms simply staffed their premises, these concerns would be assuaged.
As written for: WNOL