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The Obesity Epidemic - How Helping Fight It Can Increase Your Revenue

Dec 23, 2007
According to recent research (The Culprit and the Cure, Dr. Steven Aldana), 60% of company CEOs state health care costs and lost productivity as their number one concern. An overweight employee can cost an employer $450-$2000 annually in health care costs and lost productivity. Seventy percent of health care costs come from tobacco use, poor nutrition and lack of exercise. As a personal trainer or health club manager/owner, you can help in the fight against obesity and increase your revenues at the same time.

The World Health Organization sites that 17 million deaths annually occur because of obesity and that number is on the rise. Officials believe it will reach epidemic proportions in the next decade. Furthermore, being overweight puts a person at higher risk for chronic disease, which in turn taxes the already burdened health care system.

In addition 67% of Americans do not get enough exercise to reap the benefits. Changing their minds about exercise, (how to do it, when to do it, where to do it and that it can in fact be FUN!), can help increase your membership, clientele numbers and retention rates.

BENEFITS OF EXERCISE

As a society, we have done just about everything possible to avoid physical activity. We have drive through restaurants, banks, ATMs, and even pharmacies. We have garage door openers so we don't have to get out of our car to pull right up to our door so we don't have to walk any distance before walking in our back door. We have TV remote controls. And how many times have you driven around the grocery store parking lot looking for a closer space so you didn't have to walk as far?

Because of all of these modern conveniences and advances in technology, we now have to go to great lengths to make sure we are getting the recommended amount of physical activity to maintain good health. Committing to an exercise program is often the most difficult challenge we face. As a health club owner/manager or personal trainer you can help fight obesity while also increasing your business.

But, since there is so much competition out there, how do you get people to commit to a workout plan and more importantly, how do you get them to choose your facility or select you as their personal trainer?

The first step is to make sure that your target audience is aware of the benefits of exercise. Use websites, direct mail pieces, in club or community challenges with prizes to get the word out. Part of the problem is that the general public doesn't even realize the risk in obesity. Sure, they know it isn't healthy but do they fully realize the risks? Or the benefits of exercise? Now it is up to you to get the work out and get the business in!

- Prevent or lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. If you compare the long-term health of people who exercise regularly to those who are not physically active you'll see that the risk of heart disease, instances of heart disease death, and stroke drops dramatically with a consistent increase in physical fitness and physical activity.

- Lower blood pressure.

- Lower cholesterol.

- Maintain or obtain a healthy body weight.

- Prevent or lower the risk of certain types of cancer. People who exercise regularly have a 30-40% lower risk of colon cancer than their sedentary counterparts. Researchers are still working to determine why exercise, not diet, is a key factor here but in the meantime, we know that exercise does reduce the risk. Some studies show a reduction in the instances of breast cancer among those that exercise as well. Again, we don't know exactly why that is, but we do know it is beneficial.

- Relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

- Improve mood.

- Improve self esteem and self confidence.

- Reduce the symptoms of stress.

- Have fun!

HEALTH CLUB AND PERSONAL TRAINER PROFITS

According to the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC), it is a national objective to cut the obesity rate to 15% from 31.6% by 2010. Since 1980, the increase in overweight individuals in the United States has grown marginally (32% to 33%) but the rate of increase in those individuals who are obese has grown dramatically. The number of obese individuals in the United States was 14.5% in 1980 and today nearly two thirds of the population is considered obese. A new category is even being added by the CDC to include those considered morbidly obese.

As health club owners and personal trainers, now is the perfect time to get in on the profits of this national objective. First and foremost, your goal should be to help reduce the obesity rate. However, as a business owner, if you are able to build business and profit from a positive national objective, why not do it?

- Talk to your local congress members about what your city, county and state are doing to support this national objective. Find out how you can get involved.

- Set up meetings with local doctors, physical therapists and hospitals in your area to create a referral system. If a person they are treating can benefit from your services (and who couldn't), set up a system of working with each healthcare professional to design well rounded programs that they are happy to recommend to their patients.

- Hold a meeting at your facility emphasizing the growing obesity epidemic and the problems it presents. Then explain the benefits of exercise. Perhaps you can get a well known health care professional to speak at the meeting and support this information.

- Talk to local health care corporations to see if they would be willing to pay a certain portion of employees' health club or personal training costs to help keep rising health care costs and lowered productivity to a minimum. Explain how investing the money in prevention will benefit them and their employees in the long run.

- Sponsor a local weight loss/shape up challenge for your health club members as well as non-members. Non-members can see what your facility can offer and may become members to maintain their progress after the challenge ends.

Now it is time to put your knowledge and your skills to work to do all you can to help in the national objective and join the fight against obesity. Unlike other diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, and certain genetic cancers, the obesity problem is linked directly to lifestyle choices. There has never been a better time to be a personal trainer or be in the health club business. You can increase your own business while helping to fight obesity, one person, one choice at a time.
About the Author
Michael Greeves, CEO and founder of Hyperstrike, wanted to develop an affordable fitness program for individuals and athletes that could be customized to their personal abilities and goals, and be delivered to any one, any where, any time. Learn more at HyperStrike.com
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