From a reader named Laura Brown:
I recently joined a gym in a low-income part of Baltimore. For $10 a month, a person has unlimited access to the equipment -- including treadmills that have individual televisions with about 20 different channels. For $19.99 a month, they have unlimited access as well as unlimited guest privileges. I've only been to the gym twice since I signed up, but both times (in the evening), the gym has been almost to capacity. However, despite the fact that it is almost impossible to find an open treadmill, many patrons don't seem to be there to workout -- most of them are obese, and the majority of the treadmills seem to run on the minimum speed settings -- .5 mph -- not fast enough for anyone to even break a sweat. I was pondering this yesterday during my jog, and it occurred to me that it is entirely possible that many of these people are using a gym membership (and the subsequent treadmill-television access) as a substitute for cable.