Cardio Cinemas: Mixing Big Sweat with the Big Screen

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Watching television is old hat in most gyms. Even cardio machines equipped with individual screens and cable stations are routine. Now, many gyms are competing for clients by offering movie theater rooms. Cardio cinemas are cropping up around the country, allowing people to catch up on their movies, while getting a killer workout. This may be multitasking at its best.

Gold's gym was among the first fitness centers to offer Cardio-cinema, and now boasts 50 gyms with all the equipment clients need for a full cardiovascular workout in a movie theater setting. It's not exactly like watching a first run film at your local theater, but cardio-theaters offer dim lights, surround sound, and full-size or wide movie screens along with treadmills, stair-climbers, elliptical and arc trainers, and exercise bikes. Equipment is arranged so every "seat in the house" is a good one,

Clients like working out in the dark where no one can see them sweat or struggle. Since everyone keeps their eyes on the screen, they feel less self-conscious.

They also love the distraction of watching a good movie while they pedal off the calories. If they continue working out from opening scene through closing credits (average 90 minutes), they can easily burn 800 to 900 calories.  People say they're so absorbed in their film, they forget how hard they're working.

The downside to cardio cinemas is that many gyms offer very limited movie selections and screening times.  Some offer only one movie screening per day while others repeat the same movie all day long. That means clients who can't schedule their workout to coincide with the start of the film, or stay through the end will catch their movies in bits and pieces.  The movie selection is "gym's choice" so your extra-long workout might be made more challenging if you're not fond of the film. 

There are also risks involved in working out for the length of a feature film.  Few people require that much cardiovascular exercise in one stretch.  They could put themselves at risk for overuse injuries and may shortchange other important fitness factors like strength and flexibility training.  Unless you're training for a marathon or some other high-performance sport, experts recommend an average of 30 minutes of cardio four or five days per week, at least two strength-training sessions per week and stretching after every workout. 

How do you find a movie theater-gym in your area?  Look for Cardio-cinema, Cardio-theater or "movie theater gyms" online or stop in your local gym to see if this amenity is offered.

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