You can imagine my shock when I saw that Men’s Fitness magazine named Philadelphia, my hometown, the fattest city in America. I mean, here I am working for a magazine dedicated to fitness, and I live in a town with so many unhealthy habits, it porked past every other city in the country.
Men’s Fitness cited plenty of reasons for giving Philadelphia its dubious distinction. Thirty percent of Philadelphians are obese. Only 16 percent exercise every day — compared to 50 percent who get a daily dose of television. Philadelphia is home to 498 pizza parlors, the most in the nation. Furthermore, Philly, the birthplace of freedom, is also the birthplace of some of the fattiest cuisine on the planet, including the heart-busting cheesesteak.
While I wanted to blame the city for tarnishing my image as the editor of a magazine serving the health and fitness industry, I know I helped fatten up Philadelphia in the eyes of Men’s Fitness. As a vegetarian, I don’t eat cheesesteaks, but I do sample slices from many pizza joints. And, to be honest, I’ve gotten a little paunchy lately. My mom thoughtfully pointed this out to me at a recent family get-together when she poked my stomach and inquired whether I was drinking more beer or Lisa (my wife) was feeding me better.
That poke, combined with the Men’s Fitness declaration, gave me quite a wakeup call. I decided to cut back on the calories. Also, I joined a new gym five minutes from my house. Now I have no excuse for blowing off a workout. So I think I’ll be OK.
Still, I’m worried about other Philadelphians. And I’ve been thinking about the people in Kansas City, Mo., Houston, Indianapolis and New Orleans — cities that Men’s Fitness also ranked as unhealthy U.S. destinations.
If you operate a health club in any of the cities mentioned above, Men’s Fitness may have done you a favor. In your marketing, let people know your club is committed to getting your hometown off the list of chubbiest cities. Tell members and prospects about the tools you provide for building healthier lifestyles: personalized exercise programs, nutritional counseling and so on.
Oh, and if you’re thinking of expanding, come to Philadelphia. We need more health clubs.
We don’t need more pizzerias.