Sunday, 9 September 2012

Fashion or Fitness?

Jillian Michaels tweeted an interesting article tonight. It's from the New York Times, about a gym chain called Equinox which is about to open it's first branch in the UK. You can read it here.

The piece focuses on Bianca Kosoy, the Creative Director of Equinox. First off it seemed a bit weird to me that a gym has a Creative Director, but I guess they're always on the lookout for new clients, right? And not everybody loves to workout, so perhaps selling a gym as a lifestyle choice - rather than a life choice - isn't so crazy.

Bianca Kosoy, and some chains (unexplained).
 The article paints Kosoy as a pretty unsavoury character - a drinking, tattooed tough-talking sexual predator, using exploitative sexual imagery to sell a gym. Well, you know, if the journalist doesn't like you, they're not going to flatter you. I'm not going to judge Ms Kosoy when I haven't even met her.

“I never work out,” Ms. Kosoy said. “I think fitness is a fraud. That’s why I try to make it look like fashion.” Let's leave aside for the moment the epic statement "fitness is a fraud" - I'd really like to unpack that, but the journalist seems to have left it out of the article. The Chief Executive of Equinox says "Bianca’s unique vision blurs the traditional lines between fashion and fitness,” which sounds to me like a ringing endorsement of her approach - she's no loose cannon, and is clearly taking the company in the direction it wants to go.

I don't go to a gym. It's been 9 years since I've been a member of a gym, and I can't remember how many people I thought were there to pose, or look at other people posing. I do remember lots of sweating and feeling really rather unattractive as I skulked back to my office desk with sweaty hair. Not much of fashion statement.

If you go to the gym in the same way you buy the latest clothes - not the clothes you love but the clothes you simply have to be seen in, well, you're not doing me any harm, but I'm not sure you're doing yourself much good either. Frankly, I'm don't think I'd like to be going to the same gym as you. I don't think my pants would be up to scratch in the changing room - although I'm sure my performance on the gym floor would.

Fitness is about finding a goal - weight loss, muscle mass, event training, endorphin rush - and pursuing it. It can make you a stronger person, physically and spiritually. It can make you a healthier person, enabling you to live a longer, happier life, giving you more quality years with your children. I don't think fashion achieves these aims.

Maybe this is exactly why the fitness industry needs Creative Directors. To make very clear the dividing lines between the sort of gym you go to as a fashion statement, and the gym where you can pursue your fitness goals.

Me, I'm happier than ever working out in my living room and running on the shore.

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