I belong to a fitness chain here in Canada called GoodLife Fitness. The whole premise of the club is to give every Canadian the opportunity to live a healthier, happier life ” and feel better about themselves. You know, to live a Ã…”good life Ã‚Â, a life free of illness, disease and full of happiness. (Note: I called GoodLife a club, like we’re all in this thing called life and health together as a team). The TV commercials are about people of all shapes and sizes being able to enjoy life with their families, presumably because of the health they obtained by belonging and going to the club. In fact, one quick look at their website demonstrates the kind of values the club promotes. I joined 10 years ago because it wasn’t intimidating or about being the perfect size, not like the more elitist fitness franchises (Note: I called them fitness franchises, like it’s a place for individuals). The environment at GoodLife is happy, energetic, welcoming and accepting. The classes offered are the Les Mills brand of group exercise classes, and they can all be adapted to your current level of fitness. In fact, I introduced a friend to the Les Mills BodyPump class on Wednesday because I knew it was an activity we could support and encourage each other to do together despite our different levels of fitness.
Almost every week I receive a motivational email from GoodLife with tips for things like finding time to balance food and family. This week I received one titled, Ã…”Are You OK With The Weight of The World? Ã‚Â, which included a link to this very powerful YouTube video that was produced by GoodLife:
One thing that struck me was how powerful the video was. It’s powerful without using any terms that could be perceived as offensive or derogatory. Powerful also because it encourages ALL of us, no matter what our size or shape is. It encourages us to THINK about how much time our families, and ourselves spend in front of the TV, or how much soda we drink, or how few veggies we eat. The video is not full of scare tactics that threaten our financial stability because of our size, or by telling us working out sucks.
So what does this have to do with Chuck Runyon and Brian Zehetner?
The world’s largest co-ed fitness franchise, AnyTime Fitness CEO, Chuck Runyon has co-authored a book with Brian Zehetner called, Ã…”Working Out Sucks! Ã‚Â. The book is supposed to be motivational in much the same way the book Ã…”Skinny Bitch Ã‚Â makes us think about the foods we eat. Unfortunately the book uses generalizations, slang, and offensive derogatory terms about the very audience it intends to motivate. In fact, the PR pitch was so offensive, that it led to Leah Segedie, the founder of the Mamavation anti-obesity community to write a heated post about how offensive she found the title of the PR pitch to be. Subsequently, Mr. Runyon and Mr. Zehetner entered into a mudslinging match in the comments of the posts.
Classy gentlemen, very classy.
I ‘m a very active member of the Mamavation community, and have been for close to two years. I also happen to be a fitness professional ” I hold a Specialized Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology. I have a healthy weight and BMI. Yet when Leah forwarded the PR Pitch and book preview to me, I too was offended. The book preview IS offensive, it generalizes and goes so far as to say that people use Ã…”lazy excuses Ã‚Â not to workout. It states that people who exercise are better at sex, that people who own smartphones are holding a lethal gun to their heads because it’s leading to inactivity and surely your own death (FYI Chuck and Brian, my iPhone is actually making me fitter with such apps as the Nike Training Club, and the Couch to 5k training program etc). After I read the preview I totally understood exactly why Leah was offended enough to take to her blog about it. It offended me and made me ashamed that these two are representatives of the fitness community.
After reading the book preview I’ve come to the conclusion that Chuck and Brian really need to study the marketing tactics used by the fitness club I belong to, GoodLife Fitness. I am very sure GoodLife Fitness founder David Patchell-Evans would never enter a mudslinging match on a blog. Afterall, David has created the the largest Canadian fitness organization by adhering to a simple philosophy:
Chuck Runyon and Brian Zehetner, THAT’S how you motivate people!