People exercise. Well, most everyone I know does, so most people must. Right? Well, according to a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS], my friends and I (and all of you I'm sure) are really in the minority. In fact this study shows that a whopping seven out of 10 people do not get enough exercise.
An even more disturbing bit of news from HHS is that recent estimates indicate that 38.8 million adults are considered obese (meaning their body fat is 20 percent above desirable weight), and, in addition, there has been an increase in body fat levels in children and youth over the past 20 years. All of this in the face of increased awareness of exercise, low-carb diets, and even fat-free Twinkies.
OK, so we've found out through these sobering statistics that more people are sitting on their couch than on an exercise bike. That is a good thing. Yes, you read that right. Well, not the fact that these people are not taking care to make themselves healthy, but, the fact that as an industry, fitness is fairly successful (or so we believe), while only bringing in 30 percent of its possible audience. Unless you are playing baseball, hitting .300 is pretty low [heck, Mike Piazza leads all active hitters with a .325 lifetime batting average — higher than the fitness industry]. If health clubs are thriving and growing with these numbers, just imagine the potential success when the fitness industry somehow taps into the audience that is just sitting there (quite literally) and gets them involved and enrolled in fitness facilities.
Ah, there's the rub. How is the industry going to do that? I don't have the answer. I wish I did (since it no doubt would pay better than editing a magazine). But I believe that it is possible. Of course, we won't get everyone into the clubs — or even working out at home — just like we won't get everyone to eat right or stop smoking, including current members and some staffers (you know who you are).
But I believe that if the industry — that includes clubs, vendors, retailers and anyone connected to making a living by encouraging fitness — was to work together on a campaign to encourage fitness (think of the pork industry, it has the country convinced it offers health food) and, in turn, use of health clubs, that number could rise to 50 percent or higher. Now, batting .500, that's impressive, and, more importantly, profitable.