Tuesday, December 12, 2006
  Fear Tactics in Advertising

On the whiteboard in the women's workout area:

The average American gains 8-11 pounds during the holiday season.

WRONG. Not only is this wrong, it even exaggerates the 7-10 lb here and here for that. These all use different calculating methods. They are still not quite as good as using a scale in water(runs usually around 300 dollars), or caliper measurements (technically difficult) but much closer than the devices that measure electrical resistance to estimate body fat.

Just losing weight will make you a smaller version of what you are now. You will just be a skinny FAT person.

Please note that this sign is in the women's weight training room of a gym. The women who will read this sign aren't just dieting. They are exercising. This simply is not true of this population. Not only that, but the statement encourages the culture of anorexia.

The rest of the sign is about seeing the in house personal trainers for a free one hour consultation. I have plenty to say about that in another post. But for today, the point is that this advertisement isn't about encouraging these women to reach a little farther, be a little stronger, a little better, and most certainly more confident. This advertising is telling them that if they don't sign up with these guys, they will gain weight or if they lose it, they will still be fat. It is all about fear.

Guess what, women (and men). You don't need them. They aren't worth your time or money. Need some encouragement? Get a friend. Need some knowledge? There are plenty of books, magazines, and websites out there that will tell you everything these guys will teach you, and more. The last thing getting fit should be about is being afraid of failure.

I'm printing this out, along with the references, and bringing it in tomorrow.
 
Comments:
My employer self insures and in an attempt to lower the cost to itself for health insurance has instituted a great program for losing weight and getting in shape where employees can get a personal trainer, meetings with a nutritionist and other help in identifying the triggers that cause them to be less healthy.

Last year, after a few years of living the consultant's life, I was seriously overweight. A fellow employee was at the exact same weight and in just as poor shape. He elected to use the company program, I went it alone. 12 months later, I'm down 30 lbs and he's down 20 (both of us in pretty good shape, good blood pressure, good cardiovascular health). As you point out, you don't need a trainer, you don't need a special program. You do need self discipline.

The company program is great, because it gives people a support system and focuses on the right way to lose weight and get into shape, but it isn't the only way to go. With three kids, I needed a more flexible approach and couldn't be at the gym at a set time every other day.

I'm looking forward to the gym in January, it's fun to see the crowd that shows up after Jan. 1 and then disappears by the end of Feb. Quite the racket signing these people up for annual memberships #:o)
 
Ack! whole parts of that topic were chopped off somehow. Wierd, frustrating. It will be fixed, after this doll's hair is fixed.

Thanks Kevin. And your last comment also really emphasized what I was trying to say.
 
I do find the hectoring and abusive tone of such notices to be both offensive and disturbing. They are designed to tap into insecurities and self-loathing that can be assuaged with the purchase of expensive intentions (I'll go to the gym every day if I have a membership) that will never be realised in reality.

Regards - Shinga
 
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A Mormon housewife who loves truth, science, rational thought, and reasonable action.

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