Life Time Fitness, which operates 128 fitness facilities in the United States and Canada, has eliminated cable news channels from the big TV screens that are available for viewing by members who are working out. The treadmill set at Life Time Fitness won’t be able to watch CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, or CNBC any more. Instead, USA, A&E, ESPN, Discovery, HGTV, and local stations will be featured on the bigger screens.
Life Time Fitness explained that the elimination of cable news channels is due to its “commitment to provide family oriented environments free of consistently negative or politically charged content” and a “healthy way of life philosophy.” The change is also the result of feedback from members, who said they felt “stressed” during their workouts when watching cable news programming. One member wrote to Life Time that the gym “is no place for constant negativity like the news chains love to surround themselves with.”
Studies have shown that the viewing of TV news can affect a person’s mental state and mood — no surprise there, really — and one study reported that people who watched just three minutes of negative news in the morning were 27 percent more likely to say their day was unhappy when surveyed six to eight hours later than a group that watched more uplifting TV content. If you’re a fitness facility, why show programming that is more likely to cause people to conclude that days begun at the gym are unhappy ones?
I can understand why a fitness center might decide that featuring cable news really isn’t well-suited for workouts for other reasons, too. How can you reasonably expect to maintain focus and a positive attitude about what you’re doing on the elliptical machines if you’re being bombarded with news stories about the latest dysfunctional activities in Washington, D.C.? And having your blood pressure spike during a choleric reaction to disturbing news reports about President Trump’s Twitter feed is likely to be inconsistent with the pre-planned heartbeat increase and calorie burn built into that hill program on the exercise bike or treadmill. Programs about home remodeling, in contrast, are bound to produce a better workout milieu.
Now, if we can just get airports to get rid of cable news channels on the monitors found in every gate area. We don’t need to add to the stress when we’re waiting on delayed flights, either.