The 24 hour gym

WW II poster

By exposing the 24 Hour fitness gym is Andy Paine ‘throwing a wooden sabot into the machines to disrupt production‘?

Historians claim the poor workers of France in the 18th century used to throw their shoes (sabots) into the weaving machines to disrupt production. Workers hated the brutal conditions, low wages, the child labour, the loss of their manual weaving craft.

Feared by the capitalists these ‘saboteurs‘ were denounced as traitors to be dobbed in by lovers of freedom to exploit and democracy’s right to repress.

Sabot, now there is a word. It gave rise to the English word sabotage. Are you a saboteur? As depicted in this US poster from the World War II? During WW II US intelligence services utilised posters like these to attack the ‘saboteurs‘.

It was incorrectly claimed that French and English workers were acting in a clandestine manner when, in fact, they openly used their shoes to make a big noise of protest. It was later that Luddites in England actually destroyed the machines.

Anyway here is Andy’s take on the 24-hr Fitness Gym. – Ed.


There is something tragic but symbolic about a 24 hour gym. I can clearly recall the first time my mind really registered that these places existed, late one Friday night. Where I was headed as I passed by the gym is not the detail I remember – it’s the feeling of shock, of repulsion, at the sight of a couple of people spending their Friday night dutifully pounding the treadmill under flourescent light accompanied by the bland nothingness of the TV screen.

I should say here, I have nothing against gyms specifically. Nor am I attached at all to the hedonist notion that a Friday night should be for wild partying. While I’ve never been a gym member and I have my critiques of the role of the gym in our culture, I am an advocate for the virtues of looking after your physical health.

But late on a Friday…

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