If you’ve ever taken a trip to Europe, you will notice a different perspective on life. There are very few rules. There are also very few overweight people. The night and days are filled with high fat foods (eaten in moderation), stops at cafes, a ton of walking, and alcohol almost every night. While in France as a foreign exchange student, I noticed that people ate as much as they wanted but didn’t have any kind of exercise routine. Sure they moved a lot, and very few people drove a car, but they remained rail thin with no real effort. In order to bring the country up to date, people began to modernize this laid back city by opening gyms. Europe was engulfed with American fitness when it was introduced to 24 Hour Fitness several years ago (this gym didn’t last long). The most recent approach was simplistic in style. A small crackerjack box of a gym, filled with simple machines and very little staff.
Only 5.4 percent of French people belonged to a health club in 2008, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, compared with 9.5 percent for Italy, 11.9 percent for the United Kingdom and 16.6 percent for Spain (source).
The main problems with health clubs in France is that people think that sweating shouldn’t be part of life. They would be better off using the gyms as social gatherings with restaurants and cafes. As with many cultures any huge change in life style is progressive. It may take 30 years for France to be on the same page as the U.S. It’s just recently that Arab countries are putting more of an emphasis fitness.