It’s back-to-school month — and Childhood Obesity Awareness month. Even if your fitness facility caters mostly (or exclusively) to adults, you can contribute to the effort to draw attention to childhood obesity and its devastating consequences.
Why should you want to? The long-term health of millions of citizens is at stake; as an institution devoted to fostering good health, your investment in the wellbeing of the population at large is crucial. Moreover, the more than one-third of children and adolescents who are overweight or obese in this country make up your future clientele. In ten or fifteen years, they will be coming to your facility to try to reverse decades’ worth of physical damage — or they won’t be coming at all, because they’ll be too ill even to take that step. Finally, showing your support for the community, in addition to being good for the community, is simply good business. Parents and others who care for children’s health and their own will be more likely to choose your facility over another if yours is the one that’s been vocal about fighting childhood obesity.
So what can you do? At the least, advertise your support for Childhood Obesity Awareness Month so your clients know that it’s important to you. Hang up flyers or posters, send e-mails, talk about it on Facebook and other social media sites. Consider inviting experts to your facility to discuss childhood obesity and what can be done to fight it.
If space, personnel resources, and other logistical conditions allow for it, invite kids in for a fun day of physical activity. Have a dance party or set up an obstacle course; incorporate lessons on healthy eating and the importance of exercise. Emphasize the philosophy of personal achievement over competition — kids, especially kids who might feel self-conscious about their weight or appearance, need to understand that they can become healthier by focusing on their own goals and accomplishments.
Consider whether your facility has the resources to serve children’s needs on a more long-term basis. Rather than just a day of physical activity, can you offer classes for kids in addition to adults? If you already offer them, can you step them up in some way in honor of Childhood Obesity Awareness month? And can you offer special family-focused classes for the month, so that kids and parents can have fun working toward their fitness goals together?
Whatever you do, contributing in some way to the effort to raise awareness ultimately will benefit your facility. Give it a shot, and see what you get in return.