Can't We All Just Get Along?


I was listening to Howard Stern the other day (yes, I'm willing to admit it publicly) and an interesting discourse came about from the trouble the show is having with Clear Channel and the FCC.

Howard was talking about rock acts playing concerts in Clear Channel-owned venues and imploring them to come together in a boycott to show a united front against censorship. Howard's long-time sidekick, Robin Quivers, shot back, “Oh Howard, you know people never come together on anything.”

I'm not going to go on about the recent moves of the FCC (oh, I could) but that statement got me thinking about the obesity problem in the United States.

As we face the growing epidemic of obesity there are random initiatives to combat it from various clubs, organizations, the government, and others — even some fast food companies.

I commend all of these people and groups. The problem comes from the fact that each is working, for the most part, independently from one another. Sure, there is some cooperation and some teamwork, but is it enough to really make a difference? That's hard to say. I hope so, but I'm not confident.

For example, IHRSA's Get Active America program is a great, short-term way to drum up interest in using exercise and health clubs to combat obesity. Unfortunately, it is for IHRSA member clubs only. Then there is the government's Healthier US initiative and the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sport's Presidential Challenge. Again, these are great ideas but often working independently of others in the fitness industry (although I am sure the PCPFS would be happy to partner with every club). And there are countless examples of clubs working locally to help educate people on the importance of exercise and proper nutrition in the battle against obesity.

Unfortunately, much of the focus in the mainstream media in this country is on the causes (bad diet, lack of exercise) rather than the prevention/cure — a cure that is readily available inside every health club in the country.

Perhaps it is time for all the elements of fitness from associations to clubs to manufacturers to the government — and those of us in the media — to come together and provide a united front in this battle.

In fact, Club Industry is trying to get the conversation flowing between many of these segments at a panel at Club Industry East in Baltimore next month entitled, Beyond the Bottom Line: Building a Healthier America — How the public and private sectors can work together for a fitter nation.

Sure, an industry-wide initiative may mean putting some money where your — our — mouth is. It may even mean (gasp!) teaming with a competitor. But in the end it may be the key not only to a healthier population, but a healthier industry.

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