Substance and spin in the gym

Here’s some good news for folks like me who hate going to the gym (the sports one, not the brand one). They don’t work.

The Times reports that although there are now 5,714 gyms in the UK, compared to only 200 in the late  1980s, obesity rates have sky-rocketed, with one quarter of the UK population now obese. Furthermore, a whopping 60% of people who fork out cash for a membership drop out after 6 months.
According to Dr Smith Maguire, gyms focus on “image rather than health”.

The Times also reports that "Since the 1950s we have
lost, on average, about two-and-a-half hours of calorie-burning activity a
day." The article recommends you forget joining a gym, and get back to some good old fashioned every-day activities. Here are some examples they suggest, and how many calories they burn:
Clean the bathtub 4 calories a minute
– Play the air guitar 3.5 calories a minute
– Rake the lawn 6 calories a minute

– Go on a “bear-hunt” with children in the woods 5.5 calories a

– Play hopscotch 7.5 calories a minute
– Sing to your favourite CD while standing up
3 calories a minute

This is a good example of the weird world we live in, where people prefer to be spectators, not active participants. Here are a few more:

1. Cooking

– Cooking book sales are booming, as are TV programmes with celebrity chefs. But what about the time  spent on cooking?
– In the 1950s, we spent 13 hours a week on cooking… and 5.9 hours
in 2005
– The average amount of time spent preparing food has fallen to
13 minutes per meal

2. Virtual play
My eldest daughter is 9, and I love the fact she still likes to play with dolls. Last weekend she took polystyrene blocks from my new Time Capsule box, and made them into sofas for her dolls. What a great use of imagination, and practical skills from working with physical objects.

Yet most of the kids in her class are busy, like millions of others, creating virtual houses on some Penguin website. Guess I’m a Luddite, fighting an advancing tide of cyber-play, but I’ll help my kids hold out as long as possible!

3. Do it Yourself (DIY)
The TV schedules are full of programmes about doing up your house or renovating it. Yet the DIY market is in not doing well. Verdict report that "Even with an upturn in sales in 2007, the UK DIY and gardening market will still be
worth less than in 2004."

So what? What is the opportunity for brands, I wonder?

Well, there may be an opportunity for brands that want to "zig when the world zags", by encouraging us, and more importantly our kids, to get off our arses and get doing stuff. More substance, and less spin.

On the other hand, there clearly is a huge opportunity for service. Take DIY, it is transforming into "DIFM" = "Do it for me". And hands up there. I’m one of the many people who fall into the category  "I Can’t Do One-Quarter of the Things My Father Can" mentioned in Boundless Line.

What do you think? Where is the opportunity?