It's complicated. We are obsessed with food and eating out, but we also spend $34 billion a year on diet and diet-related products. Add $5.8 billion for home gym equipment and another $28 billion for gym memberships and you begin to see where fitness fads come in. The promise is that for a modest price we can own something that looks effortless and fun, and if we believe that message, become buff and beautiful in no time flat.
And so, for every one person who spends six months to a year in the gym patiently exercising while cutting calories, there are countless others who become enamored of a device while reclining on the couch or even more likely now, cruising on the Internet, whip out their plastic money and in four to six weeks are wallowing around on the floor connected to something that they hope will have them looking like Marky Mark or Katy Perry in about a week.
I know there are some who at this point would like to blame advertising for making empty promises and preying on the weaknesses of the masses. Really? In the case of fitness fads, gadgets and apparel we are entertained, enticed and shown bridges we are told we can own but at the end of the day, we are in on the joke and like lottery tickets, there is some anticipation, but mostly, we're just dreaming.
Larry Woodard is a director on the Advertising Week board and chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies' New York Council.