Do gyms deliberately set their scales to underweigh?
November 29, 2004 3:35 PM   Subscribe

Do gyms deliberately set their scales to underweigh?
posted by Duck_Lips to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
 
I think the most clever scheme would be to set them to overweigh, no?
posted by ParisParamus at 3:52 PM on November 29, 2004


one could argue that it doesn't matter:

what you want is to *track* your weight; so effectively, all you should care about is that you started at point A and moved to point B -- one should be more concerned with the overall change.

keep in mind also that the overall change may be *upwards*, as you may be gaining weight due to newly acquired muscle.

the best scale is a mirror, really.

sorry that this doesn't directly answer your question, but I don't see how it would be in the gyms favor to tinker with their scales to give anything less than an accurate result, unless, as Paris suggested, they set them to overweigh, so when you *first* stop in and are thinking about signing up, their scale shows you to be significantly overweight.

that said, i can actually see some gyms doing this, because a lot of them tend to make their money by selling gym memberships to people who probably aren't going to use the facilities. stupid hard-sell bastards.
posted by fishfucker at 4:10 PM on November 29, 2004


No. However, it is relatively easy for "doctor's scales" (i.e., the ones with the balance arm) to get out of kilter, especially if they're shoved willy-nilly around the floor by cleaning crews, et al.

Also, most people's personal scales get used by two or three or four people at most. A gym's scale can get used by hundreds of people, and is probably recalibrated only rarely.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:14 PM on November 29, 2004


At the gym I used to visit, there were as many people trying to gain weight as there were people trying to lose it. Biasing the scales wouldn't have accomplished anything.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:30 PM on November 29, 2004


No. However, it is relatively easy for "doctor's scales" (i.e., the ones with the balance arm) to get out of kilter, especially if they're shoved willy-nilly around the floor by cleaning crews, et al.

really? i used to be paranoid about this and check the scale before i got on it (set the weights to zero and watched for the arm to level out). i never noticed it being off to any noticeable amount. of course, maybe this isn't the way to check to see if a scale is calibrated.

posted by fishfucker at 4:33 PM on November 29, 2004


If the arm levels out at zero, the scale is less likely to be off-kilter. However, it's not an infallible test for scale calibration.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:38 PM on November 29, 2004


I disagree with fishfucker about the best scale being a mirror. The best scale is a tape measure. IMO
posted by FlamingBore at 5:57 PM on November 29, 2004


I hate to break it to you lot, but the best scale is a scale, pretty much by definition. What else you consider "best" for the job depends entirely on your goals and required accuracy.
posted by fvw at 7:13 PM on November 29, 2004


The best way to gauge results at the gym is how you look and how you feel. If you want to lose weight, judge your progress by how your clothes fit. If your pants are looser than they used to be and your shirt isn't as tight in the arm/shoulder area when you stretch around, you're probably on the right track. If you want to build muscle, keep doing more reps with whatever weight you're using until it's easy to do 12-15, then move up to the next increment. Rinse and repeat.
posted by glyphlet at 9:49 PM on November 29, 2004


Your body weight can vary by as much as 4 kilos during the course of one day, so a weighing scale is highly unreliable.

Use a tape measure. See how your clothes fit. Much better.

Others have already said the same thing.
posted by madman at 11:25 PM on November 29, 2004


Four kilos? Holy shit man, that's terrifying. Are you some kind of freak? One or two, maybe.

But yeah, Mr Tape Measure is your friend, along with Ms Calipers and Brother Tight Trousers. Before and After photos also a good idea.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:41 PM on November 29, 2004


madman, your site rocks. I just cooked dinner and now I'm hungry again. you may be some kind of weight-fluctuation freak, but your kitchen prowess impresses me no end.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:50 PM on November 29, 2004


My body weight can shift up and down by something close to eight pounds over the course of the day. It typically doesn't do so unless I'm angling to weigh myself at particularly extreme moments - first thing after waking up in the morning, immediately after eating a nice big dinner, moments after concluding a lengthy afternoon workout, etc. - but it's not that far out of the ordinary.

(Disclaimer: I am not the sveltest of individuals to begin with, so it's entirely possible that I've got that much more mass for water-weight gain and loss to work with.)
posted by youhas at 1:11 AM on November 30, 2004


Your body weight can vary by as much as 4 kilos during the course of one day, so a weighing scale is highly unreliable.

I think you're confusing "not suitable for measuring what you're ultimately trying to measure" with "highly unreliable."

As far as trying to use weight as a measure of actual fitness, given ordinary daily and hourly fluctuations in weight, I'd recommend reading the "Signal and Noise" section of the Hacker's Diet. (If you find, as I do, the navigation in the HTML version annoying, here's a zipped PDF.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:08 AM on November 30, 2004


I don't think they do (it would depend on the gym), though I've heard department stores sometimes curve their mirrors ever so slightly so you thinner in them.

I wouldn't call mirrors the best method of weight assessment, even if they aren't curved. Mirrors tell different people different things--I know too many girls who qualify as normal weight or less than normal but will look in the mirror, grab rolls of skin and think themselves horrifically fat. And that's just scratching the surface of the mountains of insecuirities-in-the-mirror about faces or breasts or hair or whatever.

Weight loss is probably best measured on a weekly basis, or (as others said) in pant sizes. A better measurement of health would be body-fat percentage--scales (and BMI calculations) don't distinguish between fat, muscle, and bone, so they're only good indicators if you've got a normal amount of the last two.
posted by schroedinger at 3:47 PM on November 30, 2004


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