Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sabatoge, or Capitalism at it's Finest?

I talked with my mom today. This is not a new or rare occurrence, we talk pretty much everyday, but this morning we were talking about about health and such, which is also not rare. I love talking with her as we share and gain insights with each other on a vast myriad of subjects from childbirth to weight loss to shame/vulnerability/guilt to religion/faith to parenting to politics to just general thinking.

Anyways, this morning we were talking about weight loss and exercise. My mom has been going to a gym a few days a week with my sister for some extra exercise. And it was rather appalling to me the amount of sabotage that was going on there. Now, this gym advertises itself as a judgment free zone. This is a good thing. And a popular weight loss competition show advocates for this gym (according to my mom, I don't watch any television, so I wouldn't know). My mom was telling me that at the registration counter, there is a bowl of free candy. And, the place also happens to sell high sugar, HFCS drinks and other assorted junk food. I mentioned that that sounded to me like sabotage. I mean, why would a gym encourage it's members to partake in high calorie, low benefit foods/drinks? I mean, soda? Free candy? How does that fit into the gym's mission statement? Their statement reads:

"Our Mission Statement
We at Planet Fitness are here to provide a unique environment in which anyone – and we mean anyone – can be comfortable. A diverse, Judgement Free Zone® where a lasting, active lifestyle can be built. Our product is a tool, a means to an end; not a brand name or a mold-maker, but a tool that can be used by anyone. In the end, it’s all about you. As we evolve and educate ourselves, we will seek to perfect this safe, energetic environment, where everyone feels accepted and respected. We are not here to kiss your butt, only to kick it if that’s what you need. We need you, because face it, our planet wouldn’t be the same without you. You belong!

The Judgement Free Zone® (haha, they misspelled Judgment on their Corporate page, LOL)
As the most innovative health club brand in the United States, Planet Fitness is known for a lot of things – our absurdly low prices, our Lunk™ Alarm, and most of all perhaps, for our Judgement Free Zone® philosophy, which means members can relax, get in shape, and have fun without being subjected to the hard-core, look-at-me attitude that exists in too many gyms."

Now, I understand that for some people, it can discouraging to work out alongside body builders and model-esque women. I get that, and can see the need for a place where people can work out without judgment. However, here we have a gym full of overweight people (body builders and skinny people are not allowed). Now, in my limited experience, and mostly just my own, putting a bowl of free candy out is a bad idea! It's like inviting a friend over for dinner, a recovering alcoholic, and putting a glass of wine at his chair. Oh sure, you can tell him all you want "don't feel pressure to drink it, it's your choice, I won't feel bad, etc, blah-blah-blah, ad nauseam." Or smoking around someone who is trying to quit, and offering them a pack too. Isn't the sugar/candy/food the reason these people are overweight and obese? So why are they supplying them with their drug? Some of it FOR FREE!?

My mom brought up a story she had seen (also on this weight loss show) about a school that sold all kinds of junk food to the students. When pressed on why the administrators allowed this sort of thing, they tried to make some lame excuse about there being some fruit on the list too, etc. What it really boils down to is the students were addicted to the sugar, to the "highly palatable foods" that the school was offering, and the school was making MONEY off of that addiction. They didn't want to stop offering junk food, because it was going to affect their pocketbook. No matter the effect it had on the students, sugar highs and drops, behavioral, obesity, ill health, etc. No, the almighty dollar ruled.

I wonder if this gym, which promotes themselves as this wonderful tool for weight loss and health recognizes the danger they present by supplying high sugar drinks (and probably other 'highly palatable' items: candy bars, etc) and free candy to their patrons. Or, if they even care? Is it the almighty dollar at work again? Keeping their clients fat so they come back? This, I do not know the answer to, however, I do think it is fair to point out the unhealthy irony. Just as an alcoholic cannot drink in moderation, a heroin addict cannot shoot up in moderation, a sugar or "highly palatable food" addict CANNOT eat those items in moderation.

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