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Tough news for gyms

Minute 1: Gym trade group dropped a dumbbell on its toe

We feel for gym owners. Along with race directors and restaurateurs, they have been placed in a business intensive care unit that many will never escape. Three major gym chains have already filed for bankruptcy during the pandemic -- Gold’s Gym, 24 Hour Fitness and the Boston/NY Sports Clubs parent company. Before March, gyms, endurance races and restaurants played a big role in our lives, so we are rooting hard for their return. They are not going to reopen more quickly, however, by pretending that all is calm and bright. The Washington Post just published a tough story this week: “The fitness industry is trying to lure gym members back — but experts say it’s using flawed data.” The trouble started when a dubious safety study was trumpeted by the main trade group for gyms: “National Study Confirms It's Safe To Work Out At The Gym.” The study was commissioned by gym owners and didn’t actually conclude that gyms were safe. It reminded us a little of the vintage television ads informing us that “More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette.” That may have been true, but it didn’t mean Camels were good for you. Scientists who reviewed the gym study ripped the methodology and implied bias, but stopped short of saying that gyms are in fact dangerous right now. Their main point is that this study fails to prove gyms are safe, as advertised.  This controversy probably won’t help the case of boutique fitness studio owners who are currently lobbying New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to allow them to reopen. The group includes SoulCycle, FlyWheel and Barry’s Bootcamp which were prohibited from resuming workouts while non-boutique gyms could reopen. In Los Angeles, where weather is more favorable than New York, gyms have responded to state restrictions by moving their operations to parking garages and rooftops. #NeedASpot?

Minute 2: Home fitness valuations skyrocket

The invention of the Ford Model A was really bad for Harvey Firestone’s horse-drawn carriage business, but really good for his tire business. Unfortunately for gym owners, most of them didn’t have a second line of business to fall back upon during the pandemic. Instead, a new crop of home fitness start-ups has raked in billions of dollars that may have otherwise gone to traditional gyms and boutiques. The latest shooting star in the industry, Tonal, just raised $110 million for its wall-mounted product that let’s people workout at home and is hyped to be driven by artificial intelligence. (Whatever that means for a piece of gym equipment.) The buzzwords and positive consumer reviews were enough to attract A-List investors like Steph Curry, Serena Williams and Amazon. Back in June, Lululemon paid $500 million for another wall-mounted fitness device called Mirror. Meanwhile, Peloton keeps pedaling along merrily with an equity valuation of $27 billion, although they are now being challenged by a $499 connected fitness bike just released this week by Amazon. Word to the wise: don’t get in a price war with Jeff Bezos. #SweatEquity

Minute 3: 7 tips to start running again

If you are a serious runner, the last few months may have been maddening. While many people have taken up running or increased their outdoor exercise regimens during the global pandemic, that has not been possible for everyone. Maybe you’re under a strict lockdown, or worse yet, you’re supervising home schooling. Or perhaps you’ve been quarantined because of exposure to the coronavirus, or you’re a heroic health care worker who has simply been too busy to exercise. For every runner who has upped their mileage during the pandemic, there seems to be another athlete whose schedule has been thrown out of whack.  If your mileage dropped over the past 6 months, you probably can’t wait to escape isolation and go for a run. But before you return to the great outdoors or your local gym, it’s important to ease back into your routine to avoid injury and frustration. has a helpful plan with 7 tips to start running after a long break. From creating a running schedule to giving cross training a try, this advice will help you safely reconnect with the sport you love. It also recommends reconnecting with friends and fellow runners through a running group, which could do wonders for your mental and emotional state after being cooped up inside for so long. #FlyingTheCoop

Minute 4: Business update

From the lofty corner office (aka the spare bedroom), here’s an update on some new developments at Six Minute Mile. We just recorded our 5th podcast and can’t wait to go live with them. We hope to complete editing this week, but rest assured that you will be the first to hear about them. We plan to lose a little money on every episode, but will make up for it in volume (and positive karma). Speaking of losing money, our finance team just informed us that unless we sell another 100 Six Minute Mile t-shirts, they will be forced to triple our subscription prices. (Yeah, we know. No one has told them this newsletter is free, but just the same, please help us keep them happy with dozens of dollars of profits rolling in this week.) One number that’s bigger than a dozen is our current subscriber count. Thanks to a heart-warming viral sharing campaign by our readers, we just crested 500,000 subscribers. No joke. Please keep forwarding this newsletter to your friends and we’ll keep hitting send. Finally, don’t forget to check out Brian Metzler’s latest gear review, the Dirty Dozen: 12 Of The Best Trail Runners For Fall. #ViewFromTheMiddleRung

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • There are few things more important to Jill Karofsky than running. Except perhaps fulfilling her duties as a Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice. The 54-year-old judge wanted to run so badly in April that she had her swearing-in ceremony on mile 35 over her 102-mile virtual run. Check out how the ultra-marathoner lived up to her campaign motto of #AlwaysRunning.

  • There are dozens of benefits to owning a goat. They are a great source of milk, meat, cheese, and even fiber to make yarn. They are organic weed whackers for your yard and reliable pack animals. But who knew goats could be valuable training partners for runners and triathletes? Shanda Hill, the first Canadian to complete a double-deca triathlon, does all her training with her pet goats.

  • If you think the past year was full of surprises and transitions for you, consider the past 12 months of Shalane Flanagan, winner of the 2017 New York Marathon. Late in 2019, Shalane officially retired as a professional runner, launched her coaching career with Bowerman Track Club, and welcomed a baby boy into her family amidst the throes of the pandemic in April. Who better to cover the up-close-and-personal angles of her evolving life story than People magazine. Check out their full coverage here.

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

Barreling down the finish chute of a race in Spain last weekend, British triathlete James Teagle was thrilled to see that he was about to cross the line in third place. But what Teagle thought was the finish line was actually a deadend that led him to crash into the crowd barriers. While he was bouncing back onto the course, Diego Mentrida passed Teagle and was poised to steal the podium spot in the last few meters of the race. Instead, Mentrida stopped just short of the line and allowed Teagle to pass him. The humble Mentrida told reporters: “This is something my parents and my club taught me since I was a child. My view is it should be a normal thing to do.” Check out the video of the finish line drama below.


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