Today’s poll question:

Growing up, when you had a box of cereal that included a toy, did you:

A). Patiently eat your way to the toy?
B). Dump the box out to get to the toy?
C). Negotiate ‘rights’ with your parents to ‘manage’ your siblings’ take
D). Share both with your siblings

Talk about stressful! A weighted decision because each option carried its upside and consequence: you delayed gratification but enjoyed the food if you ate your way to the toy, scored the toy by dumping the cereal into a mixing bowl but conceded the cereal for it was then…in the mixing bowl, secured the rights to both the cereal and the toy if you negotiated but alienated your siblings likely setting yourself up for revenge. Net/net, there was a price to pay to enjoy the cereal and obtain it’s prize. Harsh, but such was life.

As far as I’m considered cereal makes for a perfect meal. One bowl-one spoon-portion control-can be mixed together for a custom medley; so much upside, can’t it be left well enough alone without the complication of an added toy?

I suppose not. Food is big business, and food marketing is its prominent arm, so as long as cereal is hot for market share brands will do what they can to entice kids to beg for theirs, which means savvy marketing teams determining just which small plastic toy does the trick.

The parallel to physical activity? Fitness is also big business. Even in a sluggish economy, we spent millions on memberships, trainers, apparel, equipment, videos/DVDs, and entry into organized events. As well, industry marketers/gym owners did their part to sustain our credit card ding with a steady diet of new classes, clothing lines and updated editions to previously released media.

The take away – good for us! We are willing to pay for our wellness (and help grow the industry) even when discretionary spending goes on lock down.

But at what price is the growth? In some ways, the industry has become as complex as the cereal aisle. It’s volume is fabulous for anyone who can see through the clutter to stay on track, but so overwhelming to others fitness paralysis sets trying to navigate all the options, or sense of purpose is diluted by looking for every new market gimmick.

Yikes!

In our consumption of fitness we need to be aware of how its big business feature can adversely affect our motivation, mainly steering clear of how ‘the toy’ can distract attention. Newly developed group fitness hybrid classes or those that focus on specific body parts can be fun for their novelty and useful to routines for their uniqueness but we can’t just do ‘abs and thighs’ and think we are fully nourishing our fitness.

The best toy the fitness industry can offer is barrier-free access to movement opportunities that will help deepen our ‘Iron Footprint.’ As a reminder, this can be as simple as put shoes on – open door – walk, or pick up heavy object – put down heavy object, repeat. If you get hungry grab a handful of cereal.

Postlogue – The cereal of my childhood was toy-less Wheeties. It was only through that wonderful thing called the neighbors I stayed toy current. How lucky was I to be besties with the family that always bought every kiddie-marketed brand. So I learned. I happily ate my Wheeties, then excused myself to go to their house to play and oh yeah, have a second bowl and negotiate the toy…