The Dark and Bewildering World of Fitness Studies

The Dark and Bewildering World of Fitness Studies

A few years ago I was working at a small newspaper in my hometown when I got a call from a reporter named Michael J. Tracey. Mr. Tracey had been assigned to write an article about the local gym chain Planet Fitness and its many controversies. The story would appear in the next issue of his paper, but first he wanted to speak with me personally about it.

I agreed to meet him at the Planet Fitness in town, which was just down the street from our office.

I arrived early so I could get a good spot, since there were already several other reporters waiting outside. When I walked into the place, it looked like any other typical American high school gym: white tile floor; black and silver weights hanging from the ceiling; rows of exercise machines; posters advertising various bodybuilding contests; and even a pinball machine. But then something seemed off. There was no music playing or anything else that might have indicated that someone was actually having fun while they waited for their turn to work out.

Mr. Tracey asked if anyone knew what kind of music was being played inside the place, and I told him it wasn’t very loud, but I didn’t think it really fit here anyway. There were a lot of things that seemed wrong about this place, but the main one was that it didn’t seem to be much of a fitness center at all. I told him that I’d been working out at my uncle’s gym for years and there was always loud music playing, and a lot of the people who worked out there would often engage in friendly competitions or would motivate each other, even if they didn’t know one another beforehand.

Mr. Tracey had a lot of questions for me, and I felt like he was taking notes on everything I said. The pinball machine was right next to us, so I told him that when I was done answering his questions we could play a game, since I had never beaten this particular pinball machine before. It was during this time that a small group of people walked into the gym. Their arms were covered with various tattoos and they were dressed in dark clothing.

None of them even looked in our direction. They just kept to themselves and walked directly into the weight area.

I pointed to them and asked him who they were, and he told me they were mostly associates of the infamous Genovese crime family, which was based in New York City. Although the gym itself wasn’t illegal, it was well known that its owner Vic Christopher was an associate of theirs, and they used the place as a hang out. They kept to themselves and never caused trouble, but a lot of people were intimidated by their mere presence there.

I told him that it was probably just me, but I thought that the Mafia being at the gym was much less intimidating than the idea of going in there in the first place. Mr. Tracey laughed and said that I wouldn’t be the only person to feel that way. He thanked me for speaking with him and went on his way. I stayed and played pinball for a while, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched the entire time.

I went back to my mom’s house and started working on my homework.

My mom came into my room about a half hour later and told me that she got a call from Mr. Tracey, who said that they had decided to do the story without me. I tried to convince her that it would be better not to do it at all if I wasn’t going to be in it, but she said that the article would still help bring more attention to the gym and that it would probably be best if I stayed out of the public eye altogether for a while. I was really disappointed, but I couldn’t argue with her.

The Dark and Bewildering World of Fitness Studies - Picture

I had a feeling that it wouldn’t be long before the police came asking me more questions. It was only a matter of time before they figured out that I was lying about everything, and when they did I had no idea what I would do.

After school the next day, Officer Jarvis picked me up and took me to the police station. He said that I wasn’t in any trouble and that we were going to the police station for further questioning. I figured that he was telling the truth, since I still had yet to be formally charged with anything.

The police station was much different than I had remembered. It was a lot more crowded. As we walked through it, people kept looking at me and whispering amongst themselves. Everyone seemed to be looking at me, but I knew what the real reason was; my picture had been all over the nightly news and newspapers for the past few days. It was surreal seeing my face looking back at me from posters hung up all over the walls, and I couldn’t help but feel like everyone was judging me without even knowing anything about me.

We ended up in a room not much different than an average classroom. There were a few desks and chairs along the walls, a white board at the front of the class, and two tables stacked with ages old coffee makers in the middle. Officer Jarvis told me that he’d be interrogating me, and after he was done we’d be moving straight to the courthouse. He said that I was still under the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, but if I chose to remain silent the jury and judge would most likely not be as understanding. I should’ve asked for a lawyer, but at this point I still didn’t fully grasp the seriousness of my situation.

Sources & references used in this article:

Navigating the pitfalls and promise of landscape genetics by JL Richardson, SP Brady, IJ Wang… – Molecular ecology, 2016 – Wiley Online Library

Undieting: Freedom from the Bewildering World of Fad Diets by L Kilgour – 2020 –

Dysmenorrhoea and sterility: personality studies by E Wittkower, ATM Wilson – British medical journal, 1940 –

Deer of the world: their evolution, behaviour, and ecology by V Geist – 1998 –

The “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” Test revised version: a study with normal adults, and adults with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism by S Baron-Cohen, S Wheelwright, J Hill… – The Journal of Child …, 2001 –