I finally figured out why most people at my gym are so much fitter and more chiseled than I am, and the answer may ring true for you, too.
It all comes down to a form of the friendship paradox, which is how most people’s friends are more popular than they are. That paradox happens because most people have a small number of friends but some people have a large number of friends and those people push up the average number of friends for everyone else.
Something similar happens at the gym. Let’s assume most members of my gym (including me) go only 2-3 times a week, but some members are fitness nuts who go every day. Since those fitness nuts go more than everyone else, the set of people in the gym will always be disproportionately weighted toward them. Thus I may go to the gym an average number of times for members of my gym, but any time I go to the gym I am surrounded by people who go more than I do on average.
Planet Fitness memorably portrayed how this feels in its Gymtimidation ad.
Our reassuring insight came from research for a recent list: 16 Paradoxes That Will Make Your Head Explode »
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