Attached below is my open letter to President Obama addressing the under-explored and underrated fitness crisis. As Congress strives to draft a workable economic stimulus, I’ve decided the time is right to make the case for a health club stimulus.
Dear President Obama:
I applaud your rhetoric about getting people back to work for a stronger America. I too see widespread loafing at the gym and people stuck on fitness plateaus. In fact, we have a fitness crisis in America. Every day, legions of people wander around the gyms of this country without ever making any progress, if they even bother to show up at all.
Most pundits agree that the root cause of our economic turmoil is the housing crisis. After careful study, I’ve discovered that the pathologies behind our housing crisis and our fitness crisis are strikingly similar. Though one is destabilizing the world economy and the other is disrupting my workout, I think you’ll find that the justification for a bailout applies equally to both.
The housing crisis began when lenders (some well-intentioned and some greedy) permitted people without sufficient resources to purchase homes. The fitness crisis began when gym owners (some well-intentioned and some greedy) permitted people without sufficient drive to purchase memberships. Banks and mortgage brokers colluded to create complicated financial instruments that hid the true cost of home ownership. Gyms and equipment manufacturers colluded to create complicated machines that averted the pain of a serious workout.
In short, home ownership became the province of millions of people who should have been renters. Gym membership became the province of thousands of people who should have just gone for a walk.
The housing bubble and gym bubble inflated in parallel. People took advantage of surging home equity to purchase sports cars, boats and other pricey toys. Gyms used the revenue from swelling membership rolls to purchase oversized kickballs, giant rubber bands and other pricey toys. Banks enabled spendthrifts to refinance with exotic loan arrangements though responsible homeowners stuck with traditional notions of spending and saving. Personal trainers worked out newcomers with gimmicks from the functional fitness fad though knowledgeable gym members stuck with real weight training and rigorous cardio.
Today, the glut of housing inventory continues to pull down the market; with the economy in decline, even fewer people are available to purchase homes. Gyms are now cluttered with equipment no one uses; having maxed out their equipment expenditures, health clubs have no money left to buy the equipment that is good and worthwhile.
Mr. President, we are in need of a fitness stimulus. Gyms require money to rebuild their infrastructure – to invest in better machines, to purchase cardio equipment and to expand free weight offerings. I urge you to give fitness buffs the tools we need to get moving again.