The Fitness Industry is a Fraud

By Jennifer Sage On September 13, 2012 Under studio management

It’s starting to make sense.

Those of us in the fitness field who got into fitness because of our combined love of helping others get into shape and our passion for being healthy and fit ourselves, have a hard time understanding how some so-called “fitness” facilities—and some trainers and instructors—seem to be missing the point. We believe that a fitness club should be all about fitness and health; about seeking the most effective and safe way of moving the body towards a healthier state of being. We believe in the wisdom of exercise science. We (er…most of us) believe that gimmicks in the industry are just that—false, short-lived, and potentially injurious ways to sell fitness. We prefer a combination of the tried-and-true and innovative training techniques, all while respecting the principles of kinesiology and biomechanics.

You know…techniques that work without sending the student to the chiropractor.

I could never understand how an unfit person could own a fitness center—but I’ve seen it. I can’t understand a proprietor or fitness manager who didn’t absolutely ensure that safety and proper technique were a priority when considering a program for their facility—but I find myself sadly in the minority. Sure, I understand that money will drive decisions in this industry more than passion for correct technique, the validity of the program, or even safety. But perhaps I believed that programs that actually DO follow proven techniques, promise (and deliver) success, and reduce chances of injury because they CARE about biomechanics can actually be the moneymakers in the industry if given a chance. That is…they are not a gimmick.

But maybe I am an idealist.

However, after reading this article about Bianca Kosoy, the new creative director of Equinox, I’m not sure of anything anymore. Kosoy—employed by Equinox fitness—believes fitness is a “fraud,” does not work out, prefers Johnnie Walker, and calls herself a “pig.” The fact that Equinox would not only hire her, but actually glorify her choices for their brand brings me great sadness for the future of this industry. I thought it was bad now…it’s only going to get worse if more big brands follow suit.

No, Bianca is wrong. Fitness is not a fraud. Because of the likes of her, and Equinox, the fitness industry is a fraud.

Now I completely understand why Equinox bought Soul Cycle.

[Don’t worry, I won’t let up on my fight to keep indoor cycling safe and effective and to promote the Keep it Real concept, but this article just let the wind out of my sails a bit. I’ll recover in a few days!]

UPDATES: I found another blog that is as disappointed as I am about Equinox’s choice of creative director and her views on fitness, as well as on their ad campaigns.

This blog post from Club Industry also expressed disappointment, not only because of Kosoy but because the president of the company endorsed the “Fitness is a Fraud” article in the New York Times. But they also posted an UPDATE a few days ago that Kosoy is no longer there. That was a very short-lived term for Miss I-Hate-Fitness!


6 Comments Add yours

  1. julieannef
    September 13, 2012
    11:07 pm #comment-1

    I suspect that the people who go to Equinox, are like Kosoy. More interested in be able to say what gym they belong to, what they are wearing to the gym, what they are doing after being at the gym, rather than the sweat and tears of getting a fantastic workout.
    Chin up Jennifer. You’re doing a great job and the rest of us are doing our best to help you spread the word.

  2. ChristineB
    September 13, 2012
    11:28 pm #comment-2

    Hey Jennifer, I read this article myself and was shocked that she said that in the New York times. It would be interesting to see if she keeps her job. I mean for goodness sake the NYT has a lot of readers, so to blatantly spit in the face of your employer is a bold move. But to the defense of Equinox, I’ve never been, but I can say that most of the Schwinn Master Trainers work for them to a certain extent and they are the best in the biz. I went to SCW and took classes from all of them and they are truly phenomenal. I would say that her views probably don’t represent theirs as a company, but I can’t be sure. Interesting post.

  3. pascal
    September 14, 2012
    12:30 am #comment-3

    Fitness is a business like any other, those persons and compagnies work with that in mind increase theyr benefices.
    Fitness is the same as any other field in our society … health system is the SAME … MAKING money; healing people will not make them rich FAST. You can still find good gym, physician, plumber, … but value have change for a big part of the population.
    We will not change everything as what we are fighting is more complexe than just CI or unqualify instructors but you as some of us who care and have some knowledge are doing something to help the change, we have to keep it, the few we have help, are helping and will help will thanks us forever.

  4. Yanira
    September 14, 2012
    2:50 am #comment-4

    Jennifer, I have been introduced to your site my the spinning master instructor who certified me through mad dog. She wanted all of us in the class to get sound advice as we started our teaching journey. I have to say I read your articles and as a new instructor that as you mentioned in your post above does not have a science background, but has passion & respect for the industry. I try to educate myself as much as I can & refuse to mislead any of my students. Please keep up all the great work you are doing. After reading your posts I see what other instructors do & shake my head I feel your frustration but feel that by educating others your will make an impact. You did with me. I teach what a real sprint should be, I tell my students to embrace lactic acid it’s not something you “flush out” that made me chuckle! & my motto in class is if you don’t do it on a road bike…you don’t do it in a indoor bike! We train & we respect the sport. My students tell me they appreciate the education. They change their minds & bodies. Thanks for what you do and for making me a better instructor.

  5. Annonymous
    September 14, 2012
    6:31 am #comment-5

    Hey Jennifer:
    I have mad respect for you and the content you put out with this website to instill the values of keeping it REAL for the Indoor Cycle Rides, it is wonderful. But as an employer of Equinox in the group fitness department, I am proud to represent the company and go on the record to say that I am managed by an extraordinary team of fitness professionals, who like you, deeply care about the health of our members and strive daily to make a difference. When it comes to teaching indoor cycling out here in the West Coast, we have top notch Schwinn master trainers and most teachers (including myself) go through an extensive review to keep our group fitness classes effective, current with exercise science research, and safe to stay on the schedule. Do I agree with the content described against the fitness industry in the mentioned article, not particularly? But that is a department that I have absolutely no part of at all. I will stay firm in my truth as a fitness professional, and the Equinox motto is “Fitness is Life!” With each class I teach at Equinox, I strive to make it my goal and I know my talented colleagues would agree that we work VERY hard to motivate, inspire, uplift, and hope the members who participate in the group fitness classes leave with a positive experience. In the last part of my bio seen on the company website, I say that I hope to safely set a positive example of using physical movement as an optimal way to obtain mind-body health. Watching the progress of my students work on staying connected and committed to their workouts, feels incredible. Change really can happen, and I am glad the investment people make into their regularly health improves their life for the better.

  6. Jennifer Sage
    September 14, 2012
    10:58 am #comment-6

    This is not a reflection of you at all.
    There are always excellent instructors like you, and I do know quite a few others who work at Equinox who are some of the best instructors I’ve met. But Kosoy words and actions are a sad comment on the state of the industry and do not help our industry one iota. Do you agree with the Equinox ad campaign with the buff males, and skinny model-type women who obviously do not work out, who are not the strong type of women we are trying to promote? Ads that denigrate women to subservient roles? Do you agree with them that they are selling fashion instead of fitness?

    You are what these clubs need more of, instructors who care about their students, who love what they do, who love inspiring others, and who see success.

    The good news (the recent update I posted) is that SHE IS NO LONGER WITH EQUINOX!! That didn’t last long! Maybe too many people were like me and just couldn’t accept that viewpoint.

    All I can say is keep doing what you’re doing Lori! =)

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