They say when you become a parent that your perspective changes. Well, when Jake Rocco Agoglia (he's the cute one in the picture to the left) joined our family on Feb. 28, I found out first hand that that is true. Keeping that little guy happy and healthy suddenly became my number one priority. But it didn't stop there. I finally realized why so many Americans are looking to health clubs to be multipurpose and family-friendly facilities.
Where once I trained this time of year to get that “beach body,” this year I am doing it more so I can throw a ball with and teach the finer points of football to my son in 10 years.
Where I never liked my current club because it wasn't hardcore enough, I am now looking forward to swim lessons and play time with Jake while his mom teaches yoga or swims with the masters' team (she is the true “jock” of the family and it paid off during the 24-plus hours of drug-free labor).
But the late-night feedings and diaper changes have shown that while my perspective has changed, that of the average consumer and marketer remains the same — to the detriment of the fitness industry.
That's right. During those late-night feedings, I've been watching countless infomercials. Infomercials that promise the viewer that he or she can lose 12 inches and countless pounds in no time and with no or very little effort. “You can even sit while doing this exercise if you're tired from a long day at work,” one pitchwoman proclaimed.
Now I'm not saying that I wouldn't love for these claims to be true. Dragging myself to the gym or out for a run after sleeping in one- or two-hour intervals (is that really sleep?) is not my idea of fun. But I know better. Unfortunately, many people don't, so they keep buying the products, programs and pills (can you even listen to the radio without hearing a pitch for a pill that'll help you lose weight in your sleep or let you eat pizza or drink beer at will because you won't get the affects of carbohydrates?) without getting the results that healthy nutrition and exercise can provide.
It is more important than ever when competing with outrageous claims (ab machines that can tone your whole body?) and inexpensive products that club owners take the initiative and truly get behind educating the masses on the safe and effective (albeit not as sexy) way to get in shape, get healthy and stay that way. This will keep consumers' beliefs realistic so they will not only join a fitness club, but they will be happy with the realistic results they'll achieve and rejoin when their memberships are up.
This can be done locally through grassroots initiatives, seminars in the club or off-site, or by working with local media as a source for stories on health and fitness.
And perhaps, if the industry as a whole could work together to mount a national campaign to combat the myths that these infomercials sell, consumers would be more likely to join a fitness center rather than look for the easy — and non-effective — way to fitness.