Ben, Stephanie, and I decided to hit a gym in Quito after our last few sluggish days packed in like sardines on our flights. The equipment in Latin America is always a bit different than in the States and the gym atmosphere itself is full of little curiosities. One thing that Ben and I noticed from the get-go was the 9,000 ft altitude. It did not make it the easiest workout we've ever had. Yet, the things we commented on later had less to do with our performance and more to do with the management of the gym.
Our first collective observation was the disproportionate ratio of employees to clients. For the first half hour of our time there, there were more employees than customers. In fact, there were 8 present, but only a couple actually working. The trainers milled about aimlessly, leaning on the equipment and talking with whomever provided them with a moment of distraction from their unemployment. They even helped an electrician install some wiring. And, why not? They had nothing else to occupy their time. It wasn't until our last few minutes there that we customers outnumbered our trainers.
How much did it cost to obtain a one day pass? $8 a person. That may not seem like a high price to some, but for South America it's approaching highway robbery (which may happen at a future point of our trip but which we didn't expect there). Freely granted, we didn't have to buy the pass, but comparing all our options at that point I was willing to foot the bill. My point, however, in calling our readership's attention to this mostly uninteresting subject is to direct attention toward the business model employed (or unemployed) here.
I can understand to a degree altruistic employment; this social sense of spreading the employment. But, I wonder at what point the numbers, which demand efficiency, would begin to conflict with this employment? Or, whether the owners would prefer to go bankrupt before handing out pink slips? I don't know, but the question is a valid one.
I would not be surprised if my questions were ones answered with reference to policies encouraged by the socialism particular to Ecuador. Perhaps further insights into such inquiries will reveal themselves with added experience. I suppose my underlying belief is that a job is and ought to be a thing which produces results.