This is how you sell exercise to America

If you are trying to sell something to America, how do you do it?

  • Celebrities
  • TV/Media
  • Excitement/Fun/Sexy

So why is it that when “the experts” try to convince America that it’s in bad shape and that it needs to drop a few pounds and get fit…they resort to boring education programs and pamphlets handed out at the doctor’s office.

That’s not how Sony sells Playstations or Ford sells cars or Beyoncé sells her music.

And that’s why I love this ad campaign for the “Let’s Move! Flash Workout”

This is how you sell exercise to America.

You create a marketing campaign that focuses on an A-List celebrity who is fit, healthy & sexy while not being an anorexic stick-figure. She is obviously proud of her body and enjoys being active and isn’t afraid to get sweaty.

Combine that with a hit song that makes you want to dance…and then throw in a group of happy looking people who match the appearance of your target demographic.

Then, you reduce the barriers to entry by providing easy, step by step instructions on how to be just like the kids in the video.

Now imagine what would happen if Let’s Move had the advertising budget of a major international corporation like Coca-Cola or Nike.

  • Imagine if different versions of this video were splashed all over tv & the interweb.
  • Imagine if new videos were created for other demographics.
  • Imagine if this marketing effort was part of a long-term, well funded, health promotion program.
  • Imagine if you were exposed to this type of advertising day after day, week after week, year after year.

Imagine if marketers could brainwash America into believing that being fit, active & healthy was fun, exciting, cool, sexy, etc…

This is how you sell exercise to America.


  1. What…and totally abandon the food pyramid? Are you kidding :-)?

    Seriously though, have you heard about the school fitness programs they have experimented with in Naperville. Not the same exact thing but essentially redefining how we introduce something like exercise to the masses.

    If you haven’t heard of them, a visionary PE guy essentially built a state of the art health club for his students. The emphasis was no longer on meeting some sort of arbitrary fitness goal of running around the track in x seconds or performing x number of sit-ups, but instead at getting into a target heart-rate zone.

    It has gotten pretty fancy but the results are astounding. In addition to increasing academic performance and test scores, schools implementing the program have seen a decrease in violence and get this…something like 97% of their students are at a healthy weight. (I forget the exact number but it is high.)

  2. […] on how to do box jumps over at Project Swole.Doug at Health Habits has more than a few ideas on how to sell fitness to America.  Just imagine if there was a fitness initiative that had the advertising budget of Coca […]

  3. Meh. I must not be in the right age range, because it didn’t make me want to start dancing.

  4. We asked PE Teachers to “weigh in” on this promo piece. Those who teach dance lessons are modifying the dance but using the music. The basic landscape of comments is that they are grateful to have any kind of spotlight on movement in schools PE in schools as so often left out the of the childhood obesity conversation. Others seek to see a real strong national message that doesn’t dance around the issue that PE is schools is underfunded, needs to be daily and become broad based fitness to reach every child. We have seen the Naperville project and are working to see about duplicating that kind of program in the elementary schools in that community. There are wonderful models of fitness in education that succeed. This is what we believe will sell fitness in America. Not the flash and dash of an event….but what you see on any given day when you walk into a school, business as usual. Are they truly empowered to create a sustainable school environment where children are not just becoming smarter as a result of going to school, but becoming healthier too? We have seen this first hand it does and can happen.

  5. While I agree with your thesis, that when kids, and adults, think something is cool, they are more likely to try and engage in the activity, I guess my issue is that most people are already sold on the product of exercise in America.

    The fitness industry is booming and compare it to thirty years ago: think about all of the health clubs available today and how many people have a gym membership and are consciously trying to exercise more.

    I posted about this idea of video games as the driver in the obesity epidemic and how the number of inactive people has significantly decreased in the last thirty years:

    So, I do agree that the current marketing of physical activity leaves something to be desired, and the ad you mentioned is a step in the right direction in terms of selling people on the idea.

    But I also think America is in fact brainwashed into believing that being fit/lean is sexy and cool…I just don’t know if conscious exercise alone is a means to get there.

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