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18/09/2008 - par Mark Tungate (tungateinparis@hotmail.com)

Here in the 21st century, people often complain about being bombarded by media. But they seem equally unable go without, no matter what the environment. Take the gym, for example. My local gym is positively stuffed with media.
First, of course, there is the music. This takes the form of house, techno and disco tracks: which makes sense, as nobody would be able to work out to Nora Jones. There's no DJ, but there are a number of amusing jingles. My favourite is a man who says "Fucking good music," in an American drawl. Most people ignore it and listen to their Ipods. My girlfriend downloads radio shows about art and history in an attempt to improve brain and body at the same time. This habit recalls the ancient Greeks, whose gymnasia were also libraries, and who associated fitness with mental agility.
There are various TV screens around the gym, showing either news or, naturally, Eurosport. The cycles, treadmills, elliptical and step machines are all equipped with TV screens so you can zap through your favourite channels. Personally, I find that my glasses are too steamed up.
Newspapers – La Tribune and Libération – are available at reception. Some people read while they are cycling, which surely means they aren't working hard enough. The other day I saw a woman strolling on the treadmill while talking on her mobile phone. She may have also been holding a small dog. Despite all the media, people are still the most entertaining thing about the gym.

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