At a recent workshop, Bodytribe trainer Maurice admitted to disdain for the word ‘fitness,’ voicing what many of us feel about the modern applications being antithetical to what we believe our industry should represent. It seems a daunting task for us to reclaim the word, I’ve even contemplated removing it from my gym name. But if we love a good challenge within the gym , why not be willing to put up the battle to own the word again, bring back the original purpose and glory of the word Fitness?
Sisyphus wouldn’t envy us. Glamor-and-glitz gym chain Equinox challenges the word fitness, but not with our intended effect. Their motto, ‘it’s not fitness. It’s life,’ reduces the word to something baser, almost repulsive, especially when their campaign is completely steeped in sex appeal, sending the famous ubiquitous message of commercial gyms – ‘you are ugly, we can help’ – but with an even more damaging spin: ‘…and that health nonsense isn’t really important compared to getting laid.’
Although I can be accused to being prone to exaggeration, this case doesn’t need any additional spin from me:
‘“We knew it would be a little controversial,” says Bianca Kosoy, creative director at Equinox in New York, which is owned by the Related Companies.’
Controversy because they’re using sex to sell fitness? C’mon!
“She presents images that are provocative as well as playful, meant to illustrate themes like inner beauty and fantasy.”
What ‘inner beauty’ are these photos representing?
“Indeed, according to Hillary Benjamin, senior marketing director at Equinox, Ms. Von Unwerth ‘is known for making women feel beautiful about themselves.'”
Her work is “sexy,” Ms. Benjamin says, “but respects the female sex.'”
I need someone of the opposite gender to weigh in here. Anyone feel better about themselves, or respected, through this ad campaign (besides the models themselves)? Anyone?
“That dovetails with the company’s goal of “taking a different approach to fitness,” he adds, by stressing “the life benefit of working out” rather than the short-term results (as appealing as they may be). “
Huh? Let’s play a game. List how many ways is that sentence utter bullshit.
I know in this case I’m not even preaching to the choir, I’m preaching at a preacher’s convention. And for this, my tribal kin, I thank you. The wind beneath my tattered wings is the hot air that all of us can produce together rallying against public attempts at dumbing down the word that was originally the banner our passion flew under. So do we dismiss the word ‘fitness’ as beyond saving?
I say not, but we’ve got some to do.