RESPAWN

If you've been reading for a long time you may recall my standard disclaimer from the Early Days: "Be patient, I'm going somewhere with this."

For six-plus years at my current institution I've been taking advantage of a free group fitness class offered twice weekly. It is sort of a hybrid of Jazzercise and Crossfit. I love it because 1) I respond well to the structure of someone telling me what to do and 2) it's hard. The older I get, the harder it is to self-direct in a gym without quickly succumbing to "I'm tired and this is too hard." For me, a class works.

Over time the attendance in this specific class has tailed off. There used to be a core group of undergraduates and older faculty-staff like me, and as people have left the university through attrition many of them have drifted away. Every time new undergraduates come to the class, they come exactly once. I have been watching this dynamic play out for years. It's not some enormous class with 100 people and I never miss a session, so I notice who's a regular and who isn't.

Undergraduates come exactly once for two reasons. One I already mentioned: it's hard. The other is that the class involves a certain "routine" or sequence of actions – choreography? – that is totally baffling the first time you try it. After so many years, I can do the whole thing with my eyes closed from memory. But when it was new to me, it definitely took me a good 3-5 classes to get used to moving from X to Y to Z and so on. You trip over yourself a lot at first.

And if teaching has taught me anything it is that 1) young people will not do anything they absolutely do not have to / want to do, and 2) they quit immediately if something is hard. This has been a subject of interest in the video game industry, which is aimed mostly at the teenage demographic. Old school (80s/90s) video games were hard. They did things like make players go all the way back to the beginning if they "died." Over time video games had to evolve to allow players to respawn wherever they finished their previous try and to make everything easy enough that you can get past it quickly without too much effort. Long challenges or points in the game that are difficult to beat have disappeared in favor of larger "worlds" filled with player-directed tasks that generally aren't real difficult.

This isn't an ideological choice but a practical one. Game companies started to notice that if players couldn't advance past an obstacle immediately or nearly so, they would just stop playing.

I think about that example all the time in my class. It is nothing that a person of any fitness level would be unable to do if they would just try it more than once. Everything can be modified to easier and less demanding movements. The sequence / steps sink in after a few tries. But as sure as the sun sets, these kids show up once and look frustrated and never come back again. They're on the verge of canceling the class because so few of us are attending now. People leave and are never replaced with new regulars.

On occasion I also go to a different fitness class, same university. This class is essentially an hour of lunges and crunches. It requires no learning of any kind. It's always packed, and most people are only loosely following along with what the instructor is doing. They just kind of do whatever, and don't push themselves to do anything beyond what they can do easily. The students *love* this class, if attendance is evidence of anything.

It's anecdotal to be certain, but I feel like this says a lot about my job. I'm not teaching group workouts but it's abundantly clear that some, if not most, students gravitate toward things that they can do easily on the first try and avoid things that require, you know, learning something.

I'll leave it to others to draw broad conclusions from this, but it's hard not to notice. It's a real thing.

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43 thoughts on “RESPAWN”

  • It obviously wasn't your main point, but: I introduced my 7 year old to the games on the NES Classic and she just kept quitting each game as she found out how hard they were. It was a very frustrating experience for me, trying to get her to persevere long enough to 1) get the hang of a controller, and 2) actually get a little further in a game. We played on two occasions and she hasn't asked me to play since. Your post makes clear this will be a lifelong battle.

  • we've been engineering things to be easy to use for a while: "plug 'n play." How often do people read instructions that come with a new piece of tech. (even appliances)?

  • I think this is due to the Internet. Some combination of shorter spans of attention, availability of limitless information at any moment, casino-adjacent levels of stimulation from social media apps and having instantaneous viewing access to people who are better than you are at everything you do. It may be making my generation lower their thresholds for applying large amounts of effort. May not be an awful thing.

    When I was seeking a job for the first time, I had a huge amount of difficulty LIMITING my options. When there are 2 million jobs across the United States for which you’re technically eligible, it can bring about this sort of overwhelmed paralysis that I think people my age seek to avoid.

    And it seems stupid to toil away at something that we can SEE coming easily to others in real-time on YouTube or social media. I’d rather just find the things that DO come easily to me and excel at those. This obviously doesn’t work all the time, and it’s sometimes really difficult to find the things that work for me. But due to the standards of stimulation to which our generation is accustomed it might be inevitable— my brain, at least, just cuts off the flow of attention and effort when it doesn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or doesn’t feel it’s approaching fast enough.

    Saying “this isn’t for me” earlier on may just be younger people specializing more in their preferences and where they put their finite resources.

  • John Josephson says:

    Sorry, have to push back on the video game issue. Working through minutes of easy and boring challenges to get to 5 seconds of hard and then die, over and over, is stoopid and lame. Just let the person work on the hard until they get past it. If the game is designed right, things get harder and harder. I think your child is correctly identifying poor game design based on fleecing youths of their quarters.

    Also, not everyone is interested in becoming a twitch master. There is different enjoyment to be had in video games besides reflexes, such as puzzles and exploration.

  • I did a workout class in college where we learned a different short routine to music every time. It probably wasn't as intense for the entire hour as a class where you do to same thing every time, but there were a rotating selection of people that filled out the class. The class was advertised with "dance" in the title, so nearly all the participants were female, but fun and novelty were definitely the draw.

  • As already said above, not your main point, but as lifelong enthusiast I felt the need to opine:
    Games being easier is not just because the youth these days prefer to have it easier.
    For one, game makers were originally incentivized to make games difficult: They got more money that way. In arcades, if player failed they had to throw in more coins. And adventure games had a tip hotline which you could call to get tips.
    Even more important are however two changes in my opinion: The importance of stories/plot and investment of the players.
    For the first, the games that made you go back to the beginning when you died (or, in quite a few cases, died often enough to lose all your credits (a callback to their arcade ancestry)) had at best an ancillary plot: You are an x, y is a bad guy, rescue z. The fun was in jumping/shooting/etc bad guys, until you got to fight y, and after defeating them you got told z was in another castle. Overcoming the challenge was the fun, the story… eh. If you died and had to restart from the beginning, it didn't matter so much – sure, those early levels might be too easy for you, but you still got the action you were there for.
    Many modern games are way more invested in story and plot, on the level of books or movies, and many players play them for that as well as the challenge. Imagine having to reread a book every time you somehow 'messed up' – having to start at page one when you want to know how the story continues wouldn't exactly improve your enjoyment, right? ;-)

    Then there's the investment. Way back when, there were comparatively few games, you had to go to a physical shop, take them from the shelve, pay for them with hard cash, then drive back (or take the subway back while reading the 200 page manual). You had read a couple of reviews beforehand and were already fantasizing about the game. It was probably the only game you got this month (the cost of full-price games has pretty much stayed the same for the last couple decades. And there weren't many titles that were below full-price games back then). You were fucking INVESTED in the game, and were going to play it for a while unless it was a real stinker.

    Nowadays, it's a couple of clicks. If you don't like it in the first few hours, you can just return it. There are thousands* of other games coming out. You don't read manuals – even if you wanted to, there are no manuals. So if a game doesn't click within the first hour, you just go on to the next.
    I don't think that is a particularly good way of interacting with games – better to do your research, decide whether a game has the potential to be interesting, then get it and play it for what it is worth – but it's certainly an understandable one.

    *Which has its advantages, let's be clear. Beyond the usual "I'm a (male) badass that shoots people" genre, there are so many interesting games coming out. Games like Analogue: A hate story are completely outside that paradigm of "games are something you beat, go back to the start if you fail, ugga" that dominated earlier generations of games.

  • It's not a youngster issue. I just finished a professional development course – paid, mandatory, filled with interesting content – and mossy of my fellow professionals were mentally checked out by the first hour of the day. Learning is hard and people rarely do it at any age.

  • As an undergrad more than 20 years ago, I joined a martial arts club. 40 newcomers turned up to the first few sessions of the year. We discovered it was hard, sometimes boring, and wouldn't make you an invincible ninja warrior overnight.

    Maybe 5 of us liked it enough to stay all year. But we were enthusiastic and got pretty good at it. Exactly the same pattern occurred the next year, as 40 first-years joined and 5 stuck around for the long term.

    I'm not sure The Kids Today are any less committed to physical activity. In my day, there were plenty of undergrads who preferred to sit around drinking or playing computer games instead of exercising. I'd hazard a guess there *are* some undergrads on your campus who are dedicated to hard physical activity for its own sake; they're just going somewhere other than your fitness class.

  • As an undergrad in the 1980's, I was a committed triathlete: drinking, smoking and eating pretzels.
    Few, if any, were as committed.

  • Going back to older games I played the crap out of as a kid, I'm constantly surprised just how clever I had to be. Looking back through the haze of time I'll remember about 70% of the little tricks and secrets, and be left marveling at just how stubborn younger me was, to bounce off of obstacles and challenges over and over, until I figured out the exact combination to get through a given area, boss, etc…in the pre-internet vacuum. In my opinion, the hand-holding in modern games is more a side-effect of the medium, run amok, than anything else. Shifting into the Playstation/N64 generation, hardware allowed developers to build much larger, more complicated worlds. Worlds that though big, weren't exactly full of good landmarks to help you figure out where you were (I'm looking at you; Soul Reaver, and Turok Dinosaur Hunter 2). So it was possible to accidentally run around in circles for extended periods, looking for a location, but with no idea where it actually is. Similarly, play time grew along with more immersive story-telling. It became 'extremely' easy to sink into a story line and just keep rolling. Prior to check points and autosave functions, if you forgot to manually save, plowed along for a few hours, and died..oops. Sorry about your luck. Guess you'll need to repeat the whole section (fucking Final Fantasy VII). So in my opinion, most of what we have ended up with in gaming, is a logical consequence of advances made in the medium. That said, there are still modern games that follow the classic punishing, yet fair, difficult, and rewarding, blueprint. Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Ninja Gaiden. The challenge is there for those of us who want it.

  • This post makes a great point, and dre supplements it very well — and I'll throw in my 2 cents by mentioning a specific game that I think addresses some of what you're both talking about: Portal. It's maybe 5 years old now — not current, but not outdated — and it takes an interesting approach to teaching its players how to play it. Essentially you boot it up and receive no instructions. You might just wander the first couple of rooms forever — except you understand there must be more to do, and you must be able to find the more by using the handful of weird items you discover in your wandering. Now, the game gives you some verrrrry easy puzzles to solve as you go. So easy that you will scratch your head; "That was too dumb, why'd they throw that in?" And then, five puzzles later, you will suddenly recognize that the simple puzzle taught you a principle you can apply to get through the complex one. I won't say more, as almost any detail would be a spoiler. But it's a very smart game about learning, I think, and from start to end you can play it in 10 or 12 hours. Also it's cheap — eight or nine bucks? I highly recommend it.

  • Trusting there's a contingent of hard men and women pushing the limit in cycling, climbing, surfing, and extreme sports. Just not showing up at the campus gym, and probably not the classroom. Just guessing.

  • Kids today.

    For some historical perspective:

    'No university entrance examination existed at Oxford before 1914. … Admissions were in the hands of the colleges, and the University was required to matriculate any man whom a college chose to admit.'

    Currently to get into a top school you need perfect grades, perfect test scores, and some remarkable extracurricular activities, to even be considered. Unless you are a world class athlete.

    Even what used to be a "safety school" (Joel Goodson: Looks like the University of Illinois!) is much more competitive than it was in the very recent past. Maybe since so much more is being expected of them, they expect more out of other aspects of their life? Maybe your fitness class is bad?

  • As an OldGuy who loves the Internet, I can tell you one thing I learned from it pretty quickly: search breadth-first, not depth-first. This applies to modern life in many ways.

    If there are a hundred of something, each of the best three or four will be worth more than the bottom ninety combined.

    The corollary is that unless you have an independent reason to believe something is valuable, it pays to ditch it at the first sign that it might not be worth your time and effort… because, relatively speaking, most things aren’t. If you pursue everything you start until you’re sure it’s a waste of time, the odds are against ever getting to the good stuff.

    Unfortunately, a by-product of this adaptation to our present social context is that we become conditioned to expect immediate gratification; we lose tolerance for frustration and challenging learning curves. That sort of tolerance is highly adaptive in a deeper, more universal way… and we’re training ourselves out of it because of the peculiar properties of our current environment.

  • I love what you said here. I don’t think we spend a lot of time discussing the impact of the mere scale of the information available to us at any moment. Much like amphetamines set a standard for stimulation with which even the most pleasant walk in the park can’t compete, I think the breadth and depth of what’s available online combined with its immediate availability really changes the way that we think. I used to remember entire songs. That feels quaint. Now if I want to remember the song, I just google it. Or I’ll learn about a topic in incredible detail to make a decision— I make the choice, and promptly forget everything I learned. I remember the conclusion I reached and that it was made well, but I have no recollection of how I got there. These are phenomena I never used to encounter before the web became this integrated into my life.

  • Students these days! They're people!

    Ok I guess it's unfair to be mean about this. By Ed's point in a teaching career most people have somehow determined that students are not people, so figuring out that they are is definitely, like, top twenty percent or so.

    Also from what I can remember there were an awful lot of easy video games back in the before times, it's just that the ones that are most remembered are the ones that were either the most satisfying to beat or the most hilariously unreasonable, which is to say the harder ones.

  • I quit PacMan because it was stupid, not because it was hard. Never really did any of the other stuff out there.

    I rise every morning, with the challenge of descending the stairs and feeding myself and the dog. So far, it's not TOO hard, but it gets a little more difficult with time's passage.

  • To be fair Ed, these kids are conditioned that any failure will keep them out of their dream school/ job. I see them quickly do risk calculations, and if they’re not a natural, the risk/ reward ratio isn’t there for them. The old days of admissions/ employers wanting to see character development are long gone.

    Secondly, if your group made any effort to reach out to new members, you might not be having that problem. Recently, I had the choice of joining two teams. I showed up for one’s practice and was basically ignored. The other team is 30 mins further away, but actually engaged with me and integrated me into their practice immediately. Guess which one I joined? I’m going to go out on a tin foil hat limb here, but the reason the other class is so popular might be because people have friends there that make them feel welcome.

  • @Mike Furlan: Technically, admission to Oxford and Cambridge is still handled by the colleges, not the universities; and they can admit anyone they please. (At least, that's how it was 15-20 years ago, I doubt it has changed.)

    Which is not to say it was easy to get into Oxford in 1914. You needed to be very smart, or have serious money and/or aristocratic connections. It's just that the process of assessing those was less formal.

  • While I agree with a lot of the sentiments written here, there are two semi-obvious points which I haven't seen:

    Most people play videogames for fun, most people exercise for fitness. I've played a LOT of vidya in my life and I really hated playing through 10 minutes of prelude just to get 1s further through that boss fight. After breaking a lot of adjacent objects as a kid, I learned how to identify that I wasn't actually enjoying myself, and then stopped playing those games. Exercise is fundamentally different: is has to be hard to do anything. You expect that going in, it's part of the contract, and I don't really expect exercise to be fun in the same way (though now that I've gotten into Zwift, it's actually kind of fun to physically race strangers over the internet, in a video game).

    Second, I think you have a lot of selection bias. Adults who show up to an exercise class are already in a minority of willingness to try and dedication, whereas, and I'm guessing here, in college students you're getting a bigger cross-section of life-noobs who (a) don't know what they're getting into, (b) haven't learned to suffer as much as adults, and (c) haven't had the weak among them drop out and manage the local Arby's. I'm in my 40's and weirdly willing to say things like, "this will suck for a couple months, but it'll be great later." 20-year-old me would never have done so.

    Also: find a good, aerobic yoga class that gets your blood up. After an hour of that shit you'll be able to touch your toes again, and you'll be sore the next day. Plus, the kids seem to love it?

  • @ Talisker:

    "It's just that the process of assessing those was less formal."

    "Oh, I say, Bertie; he sits a horse, quite well and has the most smashing "shoots"! And his staff are all continental, the food at his table is SUPERB!

    Let's do bring his son in, only think of the holidays at the manor!"

  • Yeah, I don't know a thing about video games. But the only thing I'll put out there is that I have a friend who is a court reporter. She tells me that the profession is having a very hard time getting new reporters–none of the youts want to go to school to become court reporters. It is hard to become a court reporter, that much I can say. Part of the worry of the youts might be that voice recognition software/tapes will replace them, but I and my friend can tell you that is really unlikely in the foreseeable future. How do you get a bot to certify a transcript, for example? It's a lucrative profession, too, so the money part isn't the problem…

    Dunno.

  • I've met lots of people, not just kids, who never want to do anything hard. That's why there even is a Republican party. Conservatism is all about lazy comfort, physical and mental.

    One thing to consider is what hard work gets you. For kids, it usually means a lower GPA. If all you care about is your transcript and college prospects, go ahead, knock yourself out. For grownups in the workplace, it means getting more hard work and less recognition (i.e. money) for it. Now and then hard work pays off, but, then again, so does a lottery ticket.

    P.S. There is a down side to getting too comfortable with one's workout routine. The boy learns to "cheat" and avoid the beneficial stress and burn. This happens quickly with machine based workouts, but there's a lot to be said for mixing it up. That way, you stay in a constant low level state of pain, but the pain moves around spreading its benefits to one's entire body.

  • Poultine sez: Most people play videogames for fun, most people exercise for fitness. Yes, absolutely. For me, gaming stopped being fun a long time ago (so I stopped), whereas fitness is worthwhile suffering I’m willing to accept.

    Way too many mixed incentives here to draw fast conclusions about Kids These Days or indeed engineering a culture of snowflakes unable to accept difficult tasks. No one is enamored of suffering or boredom, which come in many varieties. Compared to, say, the 19th century, humans perform much less labor and enjoy many more creature comforts (e.g., modern dentistry). On balance, humans arguably suffer far greater levels of anomie and existential angst — at least outside wartime (now all the time). While it’s banal to observe a lack of stick-to-it-tiveness among the Kids in various endeavors (my pet example is the disinclination to learn musical instruments, which typically takes years to get good), the turmoil and speed of modern life makes long-term commitment highly questionable just as short-term suffering is arduously avoided. Thank goodness, I suppose, for intrinsic motivation.

  • As you get older,sarcopenia is the enemy. I recommend barbell strength training. See "Starting Strength"

  • democommie says: "Oh, I say, Bertie…"

    Another Bertie states, "I know perfectly well that I’ve got, roughly speaking, half the amount of brain a normal bloke ought to possess”

    "After Malvern House, Bertie was further educated at the non-fictional Eton and at Magdalen College, Oxford. At Oxford he was a Rackets Blue."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertie_Wooster#Education

  • Not to disagree with your point, but many modern games allow the player to choose the difficulty level, including ultra-hard die-once-and-start-over settings. I have no idea what percentage choose that difficulty, but it is enough that designers continue offering it.

  • Prairie Bear says:

    I couldn't help but think of Ray Bradbury's short story "The Veldt," which eventually was included in The Illustrated Man. Not to spoil too much for anyone who hasn't read it, but the family in the story had, among many other modern, helpful devices, a "picture-painting machine" for the kids.

  • Okay, just to make your point at the expense of a technically challenged retiree, I tried to like the sidebar comment and was put through a twitter registration protocol. I got to the second establish a password demand and the progression froze. This is hard, says I. Go to the comments section, which recognizes you and prove the thesis by leaving a lame demonstration. It is not only the young who are helpless.

  • Flying Squirrel says:

    I'm an old man and have no contact with kids, they don't even come on my lawn. I don't know anything about your generational claims. However, I've been struck throughout my life at how bad some groups are at welcoming newcomers, and how unpleasant it is to break through the barrier. Long-time, stagnating groups are particularly bad at it. It doesn't need a "stand up and tell us a little about yourself", just deliberate friendliness and support. The little I've seen from my relative's children is that many youngs nowadays grow up surrounded by structured team activities, so they're– guessing– even less receptive to being the outsider or in a collection of loners. Could also be simply that you're on the dying end of an exercise fad.; there's no logic to that.

    Fucking hated video games, particularly as I got older and felt age creeping into my body and mind. Why should I spend huge gobs of my dwindling life trying to master some completely useless skill? Totally stopped after learning to fly middle-aged, when it was the same thing except real. Way more engaging when you can die in real life. Helps to be rich.

  • "Why should I spend huge gobs of my dwindling life trying to master some completely useless skill? "

    I feel exactly the same way, except it's about things like Facebook and Twitter.

    I'm a photographer and can say without exaggeration that, these days, most of us can pick up a digital P&S, SLR or cellphone and put it in auto mode or some special program, like "AWESOME FUCKING SUNSET OVER LAKE ONTARIO" and get a great generic photo from the same vantage point as most folks. I remember taking pictures on film 30+ years ago and laying down in the snow on a bank's lawn to take pictures of crocus coming up through that snow.

    Young people, which all of us have been, tend toward not seeing the same levels of importance in a lot of things that they will appreciate when they're cranky old fuckers, like me.

  • Two points:
    1) I belong to a small dojo that studies judo. We are all old farts and work hard. Every now and then we get a young person and they stay for a bit but they eventually leave for martial arts. There is a lot more satisfaction in learning how to break a board than spending forty or fifty or a hundred repetitions to get seoi otoshi exactly right. Judo has real physical interaction that some would call combat and if it's not done correctly somebody gets hurt. Judo is all about not hurting your opponent.

    I don't they they are lazy or don't want to work hard. I think they've been taught to sprint rather than marathon.

    2) I wish you had my son for a student. He works his ass off and takes it seriously. I can't believe he's alone. This makes me wonder if your experience has a different sample set than what I've been seeing.

  • I love your sprinting vs marathon model. Makes all the sense in the world to me as a young person, given the constant massive changes that totally upend decades-old career fields and invent new positions and skills nobody had ever thought of before. Sure, it might be great to marathon as a doctor or something, but for me in PR? Every day is different. Marathoning is almost a liability.

  • PhoenixRising says:

    "students gravitate toward things that they can do easily on the first try and avoid things that require, you know, learning something. "

    My teen is applying to college. And you're right about the outcome of our testing-based schools. But they're not weak or lazy, they're just the products of their environment.

    We withdrew our kid from the educational-industrial complex 10 years ago when teachers who didn't teach her to read or count shrugged & said, basically: What do you expect? Your child can't hear. I get paid more, or fired, based on the class's test scores. Due to her disability, her scores don't count toward the total. So you can pull her into special ed but that's where kids who can't sit still or benefit from instruction go, so…sorry, but this is the best you can hope for. Get realistic about this kid's potential future prospects given that she is illiterate & innumerate.

    After 10 years of self-directed learning for mastery, using materials chosen by my wife, she's able to pass college level writing, math (calculus & stats) and history tests of knowledge. How she got there was direct instruction in the basic skills of reading, writing & math, followed by literally years in which she took 0 tests. My kid is a unicorn. She's never been tested in school, and she's eager to learn things that aren't immediately easy. She wrote a moving essay for her application on how much she looks forward to being instructed by someone who knows more than she does (parents didn't pass college math), & having peers who think of questions she didn't.

    However, she's competing with thousands of kids who have been tested weekly, from the early years of NCLB, using multiple-choice machine-graded tools. Their teachers' salaries & continued employment relied on teaching the tricks to that type of test and praising the hell out of the kids who did best at them telling them they're smart. They learned that working hard is for chumps & losers who can't figure out that the test is rigged.

    The expectations this creates in a generation of students are…baffling. They are not just unwilling to try anything that might be hard–they have been actively programmed to expect 'support' and 'practice tests' and 'item management skills' for the tough stuff.

    We did this to them. I don't know how to save the planet for human occupancy with the best ideas of a generation that thinks the right answer is one of the 4 options they're presented with, so they're going to have their revenge.

  • "I don't know how to save the planet for human occupancy with the best ideas of a generation that thinks the right answer is one of the 4 options they're presented with, so they're going to have their revenge."

    Fortunately, for me, I have no children who will repay my sloth and indigence by picking an "Assisted Living in HELL!" facility!

  • Phoenix, I am moved almost to tears by your account of your daughter's mistreatment by schools. This is why none of my children (and I have many) spent much time in conventional schools. My children did not present as much of a challenge to the schools as your daughter did, but it was sufficient for the schools to want to do a bad job and try to persuade us that it was as good as they could possibly do, and that we were naive fools for expecting otherwise.

    There are colleges that will welcome your daughter. Indeed, I am sure that if she had grown up near such a college, it would already be recruiting her. That's what happened to me, anyway, and it changed my life.

    Look for small liberal arts colleges. If you live in Oregon or southern Washington, look for Reed College. I never saw a multiple-choice test while I was there. I hear it hasn't changed a lot in the ages I've been away.

  • Shannon Goyette says:

    An aspect that seems pretty relevant in terms of undergraduates not remaining in the class is that it seems like at present there are no longer any undergraduates in the core group. If I'm 18 and going to an exercise class, I probably don't want it to be me and a dozen other people who are 20 years older than me. I'm going to go exercise with people who are my age.
    I also would personally be super bored and not at all motivated by a class that is always exactly the same routine. I can get that by watching a video on youtube every day at home. A few years back I did Zumba and we had a fantastic instructor who used similar movements every class but changed up the music every time and put the movements in different order. Newbies were learning everything from scratch, but even people who had been doing the course for years didn't know exactly what was going to happen. This guy literally was so popular that the gym had to put a maximum number on participants. Then he asked for more money and they refused. The new instructor did the same 6 or 7 songs every session with the same moves. It went from by far the most popular class to cancelled within 2 weeks. Variety and a good instructor are pretty important to a lot of people.
    I would also note that doing the same class with the same routine twice a week for six years seems to be a direct contradiction of the idea that undergrads are somehow a group that is uniquely resistant to learning new things.

  • Others here have commented on similar things – I've studied martial arts for 15 years at this point and also been a committed gym goer as well. Well over 90% of the people I've seen in my experience start but just don't stick with it. The martial arts attracts some because of the mystique and hollywood "cool" factor but after a couple months it dawns on them that there's no secret just a lot of hard work and practice. The real masters are the ones that simply never quit. Same with the fit individuals you see at the gyms, they dig in and maintain consistent attendance. Some days are good, some bad but they get their asses in the gym.

    I don't think this is unique to any generation, all I believe you're witnessing is the reaction most people have to hard work, they simply don't want to do it.
    I hear this from most successful people regardless of the industry. To advance in any field you have to put in the work and most folks simply won't do what's necessary.

    I read a book on the Shaolin monks years ago and they have a term for this — "eating bitter" or "eating sweet." Most people are only interested in "eating sweet" and the results are obvious.

  • @ DavidC:

    "all I believe you're witnessing is the reaction most people have to hard work, they simply don't want to do it."

    Boy, I know what you mean. It was majorly offputting to have to read your whole comment, but we, here at Gin and Tacos are made of sterner stuff.

    Is your comment available in a read aloud version with, say, Charlton Heston's
    "Moses Voice"? /s

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