Dear Editor,

While the national image of our industry may be damaged by a “worst case” scenario regarding Bally's investigation, the opportunity for local area gym owners has never been better (March 2005, “Bally Is the Fitness Industry”). Done correctly, local owners embed themselves in the community in a way the national chains cannot. The exposure we receive by supporting local events, fundraisers, charities, festivals and businesses outweighs the chains' national advertising. Furthermore, the ability for us to brand our clubs with advertising that embraces our community (we just won a gold Addie and the judges choice award) gives us a competitive edge. Our commitment to community involvement, ancillary services and partnership with Corporate Wellness Solutions allows us penetration into our community that no national health clubs currently offer.

The “black eye” that our industry suffers from the most comes from the “gym owners” who are not business people.

Victor Vilardo
Senior Partner/Human Resources
World Gym Colorado Springs

Dear Editor,

Your article, “Breaking Through the Bulge Bias,” (March 2005) finally hit the nail on the head. Not only did I read this once, but I read it again and again. The comments were things that I've said for years.

In 2001, I started an exercise program just for plus-size people. At the time it was totally thinking out of the box, but now it has stepped up to a whole new level. I have battled my weight all my life and can't count how many times I joined a facility only to feel defeated when I stepped inside. The people really didn't look like me, and I was left alone to do what I thought was getting in shape. The result was the club getting my money and me left with all the pounds.

When I started this program, I had no idea how passionate I would be about it. Now, a team of six (and counting) plus-size instructors who really understand and relate to weight issues are teaching classes around town with the hopes of having a fitness facility for plus-sized people.

Delia Robinson
The Plus Factor
Knoxville, TN