Editor's note: The following letters are reader responses to IHRSA's industry image campaign (see our January issue), a $350,000 PR effort launched to get more people into health clubs. The readers offer their opinions about what the campaign should include, which people the campaign should target, and how the money should be spent.

Dear Editor:
My thinking is that fitness clubs should concentrate its efforts on the family. It is quite challenging for a mom and dad to maintain the self-discipline to work out on a continual basis. But to work out together as a family would be more enjoyable and easier to motivate.

I feel that clubs should have more fitness-type activities for kids.... Without getting into specifics, fitness clubs can improvise with various balls and props to improve both the cardiovascular and muscle conditioning of our youth.

The bottom line is to make the activities fun and enjoyable so that kids will adapt a fitness lifestyle and that mom and dad will be able to stay motivated with their specific training routine.

Gregg A. Zuckerman
Body Zone

The Editor responds:
You should be happy to know that IHRSA and Ketchum (the PR firm handling the industry image campaign) plan to concentrate their efforts on younger generations. Considering that obesity is a major problem for today's youth, children definitely need to spend time in health clubs.

That being said, you raise some good points. Marketing to families will help open up clubs to youngsters, while giving parents more incentive to exercise. Clubs may even end up selling more family memberships.

Dear Editor:
[D]o people want to go to a facility where they do not feel intimidated sexually, physically, emotionally or socially? If so, market [yourself] as a Christian facility.

People want to feel safe and not intimidated. When they walk in they want to feel good.... The music is inspirational, not degrading with sex, drugs or violence. Christiany is sweeping this country. When people come in they are dressed appropriately so as not to suggest anything. Pray about how to market; God will give you the answers....

Roger "Doc" Hunt
Hunt For Health

The Editor responds:
I have to admit that I'm at a loss for words. And that's rare. Still, I must give you points for originality; no one else made this suggestion.

While I personally don't know of any "Christian" health clubs, there is something to be said about examining the aspects of clubs that some people may find intimidating. Re-evaluating everything from the music you play to your dress codes could make a fitness facility more welcoming to a whole new group of prospects.

Dear Editor:
I would probably look at the old anti-smoking ads, which essentially said, "If you don't do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones." There is too much emphasis on the individual, and not enough on the general health benefits and how working out will improve your life span and the quality of life in the long run.

Rudy Fabiano
Fabiano Design International

The Editor responds:
I agree that the anti-smoking campaigns should provide an inspiration for fitness-related campaigns. Keep in mind that the surgeon general's report on the dangers of smoking didn't get people to kick the habit. Instead, health associations spread the word by incorporating the report's findings into their own anti-smoking messages.

Similarly, the fitness campaign could adopt the 1996 surgeon general report on the benefits of exercise. Few people realize that the surgeon general actually came out in support of physical activity. The surgeon general's findings could provide a strong cornerstone for the promotion of fitness clubs.

Dear Editor:
Baby boomers! That's right! Baby boomers. Seems to me that many of our new members finally come through our door because of the news of a friend. Usually that news is bad news (heart attacks, cancer, stroke, etc.)....

Baby boomers feel that they are invincible...until they get the news about someone their age [who succumbs] to a major health problem. So, the boomers are coming in in record numbers.

These boomers have young children and they want to be around to see them graduate college. They want to be around to see mom and dad reach the ripe old age of 90!

I would spend my advertising dollars on the boomers. They have the money, will spend the time if we service them, and they now have the desire.

Dan Amero
Jupiter Fitness Center

The Editor responds:
Although the campaign won't ignore baby boomers, the PR efforts will focus on younger generations. The logic is that baby boomers have already accepted fitness, so there's no reason to promote aggressively to them.

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Club Industry
Intertec Publishing & Exhibitions
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Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
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When necessary, we will edit letters for style, sense and length.