This informative article at msn health and fitness by Paul Scott discusses some of the problems associated with commerical gyms.
"The modern gym is a techno holiday with gadgets and lights. They're trying to entertain people." -Jack Berryman, PhD, professor of medical history at the U of Washington.
"We don't want you disengaged while you are working out," he says. "We tell ourselves that exercise is so painful that the only thing you can do to get through it is to watch TV. Watching television and working out is a form of multitasking. To me, however, real value lies in paying attention. It is an engagement practice, it gets your mind off work, and it aligns what you're doing with what you're thinking." -Jim Loehr, performance psychologist
Perhaps the best evidence against traditional health clubs is that these days most elite athletes rarely step foot in one. They work out in environments designed for functional training.