With summer approaching and a Personal Training certification under my belt, I've been building up a list of healthful fun in the sun. While there are plenty of great outlets for outdoor activity, Philadelphia's reputation as a not-so-healthy hamlet has kept it from providing much in the way of one-stop shopping. In fact, taking to the Schuylkill Banks to look for trails and talking to strangers will yield a better log of activities than so-called health and fitness blogs found online.
One particularly frustrating health and fitness blog is also one of the city's most prominent: PhillyMag.com's Be Well Philly. If you're looking for places in the park to get your swole on, you won't find it, and if you want a truly healthy recipe, you've got to dig. Instead what you'll find is: run, run, run, yoga, run, yoga, yoga and beer, run, run, vegan mac-n-cheese recipe, run, run, beer run, yoga on (in) the river, run, run, beer. I know Philadelphians love their beer, but I've never seen such dedication paid to the paradoxical combination of beer and fitness.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with running and yoga, or the occasional beer. And there's a likely reason so many free outdoor activities are limited to yoga, and that's insurance. Yoga on the steps is a cool concept with humbling views, and it doesn't require a liability waver. That would be another story if free kickboxing classes were being held in public parks. But that doesn't mean Philadelphia's fitness community is solely relegated to the fast and free.
All of PhillyMag.com's blogs are heavily rooted in click-baiting sponsored content, evident in advertisers' hyperlinks buried in each article. But Philadelphia's rise to national prominence brought with it countless private gyms, CrossFit studios, boxing clubs, not to mention our longstanding paddling teams and kickball leagues. Where's their mention in the annals of Be Well Philly? Where's the trainer or the week, gym or the week, or club of the week?
Even beyond fitness centers and private clubs, the Fairmount Park system itself - the nation's largest network of urban parks - is a hotbed of free recreation that isn't exclusive to yoga and marathons. Where's the best trail for mountain biking, hiking, or the best watering hole for those hot summer days?
If any of these are listed in Be Well Philly, I haven't found it.
PhillyMag.com has a platform to reach thousands of Philadelphians desperately looking for real ways to get fit, and because of its position it also has an obligation to those readers to live up to its claims. Philly wants to Be Well, but PhillyMag.com is just giving us PlanetFitness, a fitness community in name-only that caters to our vices and weaknesses, and says it's okay to treat yourself to some mac-n-cheese, it's vegan!