Sometimes, publicity for your fitness facility comes out of the blue and from the oddest of places.
Take, for example, the East Islip Health and Fitness Center in Long Island, NY. The owners, Paul and Leanne Neville, received a call out of the blue from producers of the ABC TV show “What Would You Do?” asking if they could use their club for a segment on the show. Paul said yes, according to Rich Frost, a personal trainer and assistant manager trainee.
“It sounded like it was fun, and he jumped at it,” Frost says, speaking on Neville’s behalf. “It would be good publicity for the gym.”
It certainly has gotten the 2,000 members of the 25,000-square-foot club talking. Ever since the crew from the show shot its footage in December, members have been asking when it will air. The answer is: tomorrow night at 9 pm ET on ABC.
The TV show secretly films people who are confronted with an ethical situation in which they must decide whether to speak up or remain silent about what they are witnessing. Often, the situations are fairly serious—a drunk father leaving a bar to drive home with his son in tow, or a boyfriend in a park verbally abusing his girlfriend. The crew films people’s reactions to see who will step up and who will walk the other way. Then, host John Quinones interviews those who speak up (and sometimes those who do not) to find out why they took action.
The situations filmed at the East Islip club were not the usually serious segments seen on the show, Frost says. One involved a man hogging a piece of equipment and talking loudly on his cell phone. One involved two women talking loudly during a group exercise class. Another one involved someone taking a phone call and getting too close to a person in a yoga class.
Some of the members did get upset during the filming, but once they were told the reason for the “rudeness,” most were forgiving, Frost says. However, one woman who was in the yoga class complained to the front desk that the filming was taking advantage of people and showing them at their worst. Frost hasn’t seen her since.
Filming took place over two days with cameras hidden in the corners of the club and classrooms. A production truck with the crew and equipment was parked in the back of the club. One day the TV crew focused on an aerobics class and a Zumba class. The second day, they focused on the weight area. The club’s staff stayed in the background, and Paul and Frost made sure to be scarce each day so people were less likely to come up to them for assistance with the situation, Frost says.
“For the most part, the members handled this on their own,” he says.
The scenarios involved one or two actors who had to repeat their rude actions several times in different classes or in the weight area. The film crew paid attention to who was in the gym and would wait about an hour between each “reveal” to ensure all new members were in the club before starting up with the same scenario again, Frost says.
“A couple of members who did know what was going on, they kept their mouths shut to see what would happen,” he says.
Paul Neville is not a stranger to TV. He founded Kid Fitness Inc. in 2003 and hosts a Kid Fitness television series for PBS. He also has done some children’s fitness videos.