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TALKBACK katie barnes • assistant editor • health club management
everyone’s talking about . . .
celebrity endorsement
Do we need celebrities to get involved and champion our industry if we’re to encourage
mass interest in fitness? If so, how should we go about selecting these role models?
here’s no question that Dixon – fi rst known as a pop star putting this in jeopardy by jumping on
celebrity endorsements before winning the BBC’s popular the frivolous fame bandwagon?
work well for the fi tness Strictly Come Dancing show – in a four- On the other hand, by choosing role
industry: sporting stars from year deal to devise dance and exercise models for the size of their fanbase
Kelly Holmes and James Cracknell to classes for its clubs. rather than for their evident fi tness/
Ian Wright have all been involved with Every new year we’re bombarded sporting prowess, are we widening our
successful campaigns. The US health with exercise videos from music appeal and our ability to reach new
club chain 24 Hour Fitness even sets up and TV stars, but such workouts audiences? As Mike Crockett, MD of
clubs in partnership with star athletes are generally seen as gimmicks with Soho Gyms, recently said (see HCM
such as cyclist Lance Armstrong, little substance. If health and fi tness Nov/Dec 09 p26): “We need more role
baseball champion Derek Jeter and operators choose role models based on models, but not just athletes, because
basketball’s Magic Johnson. their fame or popularity over sporting that’s quite elitist. It’s glamour that
But what about tie-ups with more prowess, could this undermine the tends to reach people, whether we
mainstream celebrities, who may credibility of the services we offer? like it or not. If Cheryl Cole were to
originally have shot to fame for reasons For years now, we’ve been talking promote going down the gym, it would
other than sport or fi tness? LA Fitness, about the need to be taken seriously help persuade today’s youngsters to
for example, has just signed-up Alesha by the medical sector. Could we be make it a part of their everyday life.”
mike crockett kevin yates
md • soho gyms head of commercial development • leisure connection
ll of the most successful brands,
such as Nike, use celebrities for “I
f a celebrity can drive people to
your facility and get people active,
promotional activities. Our industry it can only be a good thing. However,
needs to play catch-up. We can still do there clearly are risks involved: all
the groundwork, but we need to get celebrities, even sports people, rise and
an edge and inject some glamour into fall in status and we need to be hugely
what we’re doing too. LA Fitness, with careful who we choose as role models.
its signing of Alesha Dixon, is obviously We need to ask if the celebrity is
thinking this, while Change4Life has doing it for the love of getting people
brought in footballer Frank Lampard and, most recently, dance active. Athletes like Dame Kelly Holmes and Roger Black clearly
group Diversity from Britain’s Got Talent. are – they’re true advocates of our industry. But the majority
This is opening up the industry to new audiences and makes it of celebrities do it for personal and financial gain: to raise their
more current, but I still don’t think we’re reaching young people profile, sell more fitness DVDs or to help promote something
as much as we’d like to. If you’re going to get to the 16–25-year- else. Does this drive people to a health club? Probably not.
olds, you need a role model who’s in the magazines, who wears Operators need to carefully align their brand with the right
the fashionable clothes, who’s on the TV and who sings the music person. Fitness First has wisely chosen a health celebrity, Dr
they relate to. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get Lady Gaga? Hilary Jones, as its medical advisor. As Leisure Connection’s
How careful do we have to be in who we choose? I think you focus is on getting local communities active, we’d go for people
need to decide what you’re after – the kind of celebrity you on the sporting scene. With the Olympics coming up, there’s a
want and the audience you want to attract – and understand prime opportunity for the industry to align itself with genuine
that things can go wrong. We wouldn’t want a role model sports people rather than wishy-washy celebrities. Choosing
associated with drugs or violence. However, the person should people who are going to win medals, as well as those who have
still have an edge or a bit of controversy. It’s a very fine line.

already won them, is key to inspiring the next generation.

30 Read Health Club Management online march 2010 © cybertrek 2010
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