The newest exercise craze combines "Throw-back Thursday", green living, altruism, weight loss, and fitness into the hottest new trend in the US. Instead of lifting weights and taking last year's aerobic class, gym members are assigned manual labor in their community.
The weight lifting classes include snow shoveling, cutting and hauling brush, building trails, and building benches for the local park and town lands. The aerobics classes include carrying groceries of fragile senior citizens and disabled people up the stairs at the near by apartment complex. There is virtually no carbon footprint because no motorized equipment is allowed except for personal music players like iPods and smart phones. The gym members meet many of the people that they help and are allowed short breaks to say hello and ask if the recipient is satisfied.
"The idea came to me after I lost 3 pounds in 3 weeks shoveling snow around my house. I looked across the street and saw my neighbor paying the landscaper to clear the snow as he drove off to the gym." says Anita Carrier. "I also noticed the local park needed some work and the nearby homeless center and senior centers had inadequate snow clearing."
Carrier's gym carefully reviews each clients fitness needs and desires and then matches them with tasks around the community. Gym members pay $100 for the initial consultation and $10 per session. Members that do not attend at least 8 sessions per month are charged an additional $150. Carrier explains that the extra $150 is to protect the gym's reputation. She is discouraging gym members from getting out of shape while telling others that they are members of her gym.
Gym memberships are currently sold out with a wait list. Carrier is considering franchising to other towns that need more community service which are usually the towns with wealthy clientele. In less wealthy communities, people committing misdemeanors are given "community service" and the work gets done while the wealthy bribe their way out of that. Carrier uses those available community service tasks as well as others that she finds to create the gym's programs. It's a win-win for all.
"Who knew that manual labor really works to keep you in shape? And even better that I get to claim that I'm green, altruistic, and up on the latest trend," states Steven, a member for 4 months. He also wants all the hot, single women at the gym to know he is available and caring.