WTF is 'Artisanal Fitness'?

Apr 04 at 9am

By Jules Suzdaltsev

I’m sorry to say this, but too many marketing campaigns in San Francisco have come full circle into gut-busting parody as of late. Case in point: I recently stumbled onto this image on Reddit advertising “Artisanal Fitness,” which I’m furious I didn’t think of first as a joke.

The physical billboard is located at 1825 Market Street, home to the latest “only in SF” fitness fad/company, Perform For Life. If you’re wondering what the gentleman (who's just missing a handlebar mustache) is doing with a club in each hand, you’re not alone. No, he’s not going to bash in seal heads, nor is this a new MMA clubbing gym (that’s a really good idea, by the way), rather, he's practicing an extremely old form of exercise known as Indian Club Training popular from 1900 to the 1930s. What better anachronistic routine to pair with something called “Artisanal Fitness”? I can’t stop giggling at this marketing version of hipster nonsense, although I think the company's bigger downfall might be that real hipsters hate exercise.

I gave the Perform For Life number in the ad a call, and the guy on the other end of the line was extremely confused to learn that someone had heard of the company. He described the place as working in “small batches,” “handcrafting fitness,” and “tailored to your level”; or something like that, I’m not sure; to be honest I was laughing pretty hard. But don’t take my cynical word for it, this brand spankin’ new fitness center hasn’t even opened yet (April 19th), and with the buzz it's made online already, it must be doing something right. Although it does make me wonder, what’s next for the handcrafted movement? Artisanal Automotive Repair? Artisanal Accounting? Artisanal Twitter?

If this indeed is a real thing, and not a crafty bit of performance art, I hope Perform For Life goes whole hog and only offers exercises from the 19th century. I’m tired of all this annoying Crossfit muscle confusion stuff, let’s bring it back to the basics. Let’s lift some rocks, chop down a tree, save a burning woman out of a beautiful building, or whatever it is that made dudes in the 1800s look like Hugh Jackman.

Also, I have never seen a more San Francisco-style fitness Instagram, with feel-good motivational quotes for people who have never had a job that required manual labor, plus post-workout snacks from Whole Foods that are free-range chocolate or whatever. Here’s one where the company calls its rowing machines “organic.” Awesome. I hope they really double down on this aesthetic.

Image via Reddit

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