Fitness Instructor Teaching Boxing In Exercise Class
Why do you find yourself crawling back to spin class despite the horrors that lie within?
Well, because they use cult-like tactics to keep customers engaged, according to Amanda Montell.
The author of the new book –Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism – argues the pervasive use of “loaded mantras and monologues” create an experience “so stirring,” people can’t resist coming back and spreading the word.
“Exercisers driven only by numbers tend to quit within 12 months,” she writes. “It’s when elements of belonging, self-worth and empowerment enter the picture that members are moved to renew their fitness memberships year after year.”
“Specialized jargon works to convert you, to love bomb you, to make you feel special. At SoulCycle, for example, everyone knows that ‘Roosters’ take the 6 a.m. class, ‘Noon on Monday’ is when you sign up for classes and ‘tap-backs’ are a signature hip [pulse] you make on the bike.
“While it’s really important to not be sensational and equate a workout with a cultish group like Jonestown, it’s equally important to be aware that the goal of fitness companies is to create solidarity, transcendence, elitism for insiders and a compelling experience that feels like more than just a workout.”
And apparently the instructors themselves wield influence:
“Each instructor has their own cultish language and they’re encouraged to blur the boundaries between workout instructor, lifestyle guru, therapist, pastor and best friend. It can lead to a weird power dynamic.”
So fitness classes are cults? Really?
“We think of cults as rural communes in the woods or in a mansion or bunker, but I think we need to be thinking about cultishness a little differently. We’re all susceptible to a pernicious guru. It’s just that now they’re not just on compounds in the woods. They’re on your Instagram feed.”
So there you have it. Next time you swap 45 minutes on a bike for a trip to the pub, do not despair. You are not being lazy, you are reclaiming independent thought. Good for you.