I remember when private membership gyms started to open in big numbers many years ago. They were expensive and people were prone to give up on working out as they often do. Some these were difficult to disengage from. Some gyms in central city areas that attracted professionals had a much longer shelf-life. Many huge glossy gyms with wall to ceiling mirrors came and went.

Then the market exploded into several different directions. A number of cheaper options with a modest monthly fees have been battling it out in neighborhoods now–some are “plain Jayne” but with most everything you need to keep fit. Others are marine like in terms of look and feel–no pain-no gain kind of places. Some large “all-fitness family operations” have sprouted out as well–with huge pools, gigantic workout areas, and lots of other beautiful features including cafes. Still others have focused on a specific market that many young people are attracted to–such as more welcoming places to hang out, places with more sophisticated weights and machines.  Other gyms have been created by hospitals that might be especially appealing to people who are interested in preventative measures for longer more productive lives–popular no doubt with lots of medical people.

For almost all of my kids, these places have become a necessity. Hardly a week goes by when they haven’t been to the gym several times. All my fatherly advice about finances and sticking to what you need, etc., just doesn’t synch up  their priorities.

Of course, one place where fitness plays big dividends is with athletes on the playing field. From every grade level to the pros, kids who are tuned up and in good shape, can do better in school, play sports and have more good things going on that can help them avoid trouble. It doesn’t always work as we know, but a kids who is fit is going to have advantages.

If you follow the NFL, you know that the organization has a number of programs that reach out to kids to encourage exercise and things like reading and school work. But it hasn’t been lost on NFL franchise owners that the professional football nameplate can be a very attractive brand and  a strong encouragement for fitness. Now, some of the NFL teams are partnering to open gyms for fans to work out like the pros. Recently the Chicago Bears has opened up one facility called Bears Fit.

Bears Fit is a Chicago Bears-themed fitness center, which has opened at 155 E. Townline Road in Vernon Hills, Ill. The 45,000-square-foot facility features state-of-the art equipment, a recovery center, group fitness classes, saunas and steam rooms, a Bears Shop, and kids club.