Equinox Executive Says 'Fitness Is a Fraud'

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UPDATE: A call to the Equinox corporate office on Thursday revealed that Bianca Kosoy, the executive creative director at Equinox, is no longer with the company. The date of her departure is unknown, although we have confirmed it was a recent departure. When asked about Kosoy's departure, an Equinox spokesperson told us the company does not share information about its staff or members.

When Equinox announced last month that Sarah Robb O'Hagan would take over the new post of president of the company, I thought that Equinox's racy ad campaigns from photographer Terry Richardson would go away. However, recent tweets seem to indicate that I thought wrong.

Photos in the ad campaigns, which are displayed on Equinox's website and inside Equinox club walls, including one displayed outside the kids club, depict both men and women as sexual objects and have little in them related to fitness. I thought a female president of a company, who also is a wife and mother of three, would stop the use of these photos.

Then, I read a New York Times profile of Bianca Kosoy, the executive creative director of Equinox who hired Richardson for the ad campaigns. In the profile, Kosoy said, "I never work out. I think fitness is a fraud. That's why I try to make it look like fashion."

Well, after seeing that quote, I thought for sure that Robb O'Hagan, who came to Equinox from PepsiCo/Gatorade, would make a change. How can you have your executive creative director saying in the Times that fitness is a fraud when your business is built on helping people get fit?

A few days later, I saw that Robb O'Hagan, who is active on Twitter, re-tweeted the Times story on Twitter and gave it her endorsement. Not only that, but Kosoy thanked Robb O'Hagan on Twitter, and the two exchanged pleasantries, saying they were looking forward to working with each other.

The ad campaigns, keep in mind, have the approval from the man at the top, Equinox CEO Harvey Spevak, who told the Times, "Bianca's unique vision blurs the traditional lines between fashion and fitness."

That much is true. But what do you think? Should Equinox continue with the racy ads? Do they bother you? Would you be OK with your creative director saying in a major newspaper that fitness is a fraud?

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on May 24, 2014

Kosoy's comments are telling and reflective of the Management Culture at Equinox. The brand is weak and simply trying to own a shallow niche by showing fitness models with an edge, a brand that LA Fitness has already perfected, albeit at a much lower price point. When a company has questionably credentialed Sales Managers leading the company (like in S FL), it needs to go for fitness model shock value. Peek beneath the covers and see that all Equinox really is, is LA Fitness with less members, cleaner locker rooms, and better personal trainers, with less crowds and a higher income demographic. I have an employee who tried to join Equinox and case studied- documented his experience. He joined another club that has a genuine mission and identity beyond cute wannabees at the mall. When sales asked him why he joined a competitive club, he reported that "Equinox made him do it".

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