Extreme Fitness With A Martian Twist
Maya Lin, a brunette management consultant in Hong Kong, begins her morning by attaching herself to bungee cords tethered to the high ceiling. In a white full-body anthropometric suit, she begins to leap over several obstacles and sprint towards the mustard yellow wall on the other side of the gym. Lin runs three meters up the wall, flips backwards, and sticks the landing as if she were Neo in The Matrix. “Run higher up the wall!” a muscled young woman yells from below, as Lin wipes her sweat and trots back to the start line.
“Zero gravity running” and other extreme workouts are becoming increasingly popular in many MarsGyms around Earth. More than just a gym or workout routine, MarsGym involves a lifestyle that encourages extreme fitness, an “explorer attitude,” and an almost religious, self-supporting community.
MarsGym started in Oakland, California in 2028 as a program to train individuals for the Mars Astronaut Physical and Psychological Examination (MAPE), a required examination for all astronauts, scientists, and settlers on the Red Planet. After the first Emigrant (what MarsGym calls its members) landed on Mars in 2036, the gym experienced exponential growth fueled by additional consumer demand and venture backing.
The fascination with extreme fitness camps and workouts has spread from the United States to India, Brazil, and China in the last two decades. During this period, the notion of the “ideal” human-body was severely influenced by Mars astronauts and explorers—individuals that fulfilled MAPE requirements and were selected to explore and study Mars prior to commercial settlements. MarsGym now has a dedicated clientele who regularly use assisted oxygen masks, wearable micro pulse oximeters, and a suite of other active monitoring products, generally used by settlers on Mars. In addition, the adopted uniforms of Emigrants are form-fitting anthropometric suits (technology initially designed for spacesuits) from sportswear outlets like SAVEN.
Praachi Selma, founder and CEO of MarsGym, highlights that “most of our early Emigrants were folks that wanted to go to Mars someday; however, the majority of our current Emigrants are folks that want to have a healthy lifestyle like the Martian colonists, but not necessarily go to Mars.”
In addition to the unconventional workout routines, MarsGym also cultivates an almost religious appeal with its linguistic and dietary traditions. A majority of Emigrants adhere to a vegetarian/pescatarian diet, like their Martian sistren. Some people have even criticized the MarsGym culture of incorporating a silent exclusionary attitude to non-gymgoers (or as Emigrants call them, “earthlings”).
Emigrants like Maya spend around two hours a day at a MarsGym, going through various “antigravity” and body weight routines. Maya highlights that “a majority of my close friends are Emigrants, as we spend a big part of the day exercising together, making ourselves better. In addition to bonding over physical exercise, we share our monitoring activity with each other, and almost all of us are pescatarians.”
When it comes to following a pescatarian diet, MarsGym provides a subscription-based food and nutrition service, called MarsGrub, which delivers freshly prepared vegetarian food and fish to Emigrants. Almost 40% of Emigrants opt for at least ten meals a week through this program, often receiving warm meals via drone or mail delivery to their home. MarsGym also has several contracts with office food service providers to allow meals to be delivered to an Emigrant’s workplace.
MarsGym also integrates with an Emigrant’s digital health profile on Curia’s electronic health record to actively send the Emigrant’s physical status and workout information to their physicians.
Exposition. Curia is an Electronic Health Record (EHR) that has become popular in hospitals around the world, as a free and open source platform. In addition, Curia seamlessly integrates with other EHRs, allowing for easy and secure transfer of patient information.
Much of the appeal of MarsGym, Selma states, is its ability to be a “singular destination for the modern space-bearing lifestyle—a Human 2.0, if you will.”
MarsGym currently has 232 locations in 16 countries around Earth. The company has plans to open another 85 locations in the next 12 Earth months.