Hey, here's a novel idea for our industry: Why don't we put out a press release and tell everyone (yes, brag) about how well we are doing as an industry during this tough economic downturn/recession? Yes, that's right: how well we are doing.

I believe it's important for us to puff our pecs a bit and recognize that the fitness business is healthy.

We should let others know that we share our strategies and tactics with each other in friendly yet competitive ways. We can express to everyone that our workout traffic has actually increased during these tough economic times and share how that has inspired many of us to invest more time with our members and how this inspiration has led to great member referral programs or club-based activities. We also can share with them how our new member unit numbers have held strong and even our ancillary business (personal training, massage, tanning and aquatics programs), though down a bit, have done well.

Why not? Shouldn't everyone know that group exercise programs, circuit training and yoga are great economic stress relievers? Shouldn't we shout about how exercise can be entertainment? I mean, have you sat in a hot tub or taken a steam with your members lately? Now, that's entertainment. How about the fact that we employ millions of people and are keeping tens of millions more in great shape?

During a time when health care is the lead story in every newspaper or news show, and while our HMOs and PPOs have cut back on therapy and rehab appointments, we fill that need with proper exercise and conditioning for pennies of what it costs to heal the sick. Why not continue to shout from every media format that we are the answer to many of the things that ail our nation, such as stress, depression, anxiety, obesity, eating disorders, heart disease, cancer and diabetes? It's time for each of us, individually and collectively, to contact every news source we can and proclaim that we are surviving, and more importantly, we can help them survive, too.

So to make this even easier, I have taken the liberty of including a press release template in my column. I also have written an ad in the online version of this column. Use these as guides, substituting your information and comments where appropriate. Also use these to alert the media and community in your area about how well we are doing as an industry. Isn't it time that we stood up and bragged a bit? I sure think it is.

Here's the press release:

Stacy's Total Fitness Hosts Halloween Open House on Saturday, Oct. 31

SAN DIEGO — Stacy's Total Fitness Center is hosting a Halloween Open House from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31. Everyone is invited. Free, seven-day VIP memberships are available to those who come by for a tour.

The gym is a great place to relieve stress, and it's not that expensive. Just ask our members.

“Even if I am having the worst day, I go into Stacy's Total Fitness Center and walk out feeling like I have accomplished something positive with my day,” says member Nancy Smith.

The fitness industry is accomplishing something positive, too. Exercise is a proven way to reduce stress, which is on the rise these days. That may be why even in today's economy, many health clubs are actually doing well and employing millions of Americans. The health club industry is predicted to grow by 4 percent in 2009. And the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that the number of jobs in the fitness industry will grow by 27 percent between 2006 and 2016. This growth means that people are taking their health more seriously. Are you?

Join us at the fun-filled Halloween Open House to see what we can offer you. We'll have a drawing for San Diego Charger tickets, bobbing for apples and prizes, plus free group exercise classes, free Kids Club activities, free fitness goal assessments with a certified personal trainer, and much more.

“We welcome all members and friends to our Open House,” says owner Stacy Jones.

About Stacy's Total Fitness Center: Stacy's Total Fitness Center is a premier club that offers state-of-the-art equipment, expert personal trainers and specialized programs and classes. The 37,000-square-foot facility has full-court basketball, a pool, sauna, Jacuzzi and more than 70 pieces of cardio equipment with personalized TVs.

For more information, visit www.stacystotalfitness.com, call Stacy Jones at 800-555-1212 or e-mail her at stacy@stacystotalfitness.com.

Mark Mastrov, founder of 24 Hour Fitness, is now an investor in various business opportunities through his company, New Evolution Fitness Co. You can reach him at mark.mastrov@fitnessbusinesspro.com.