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fast food fitness
December 30, 2004 9:03 AM   Subscribe

An unholy union of fitness and fast food: Bally Total Fitness teams up with Yum Brands to offer free four-month gym memberships to people who eat at Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, Long John Silver's or A&W restaurants.
posted by me3dia (51 comments total)

 
"We're proud to team with five world class restaurants..." said Rob Wildman, Ph.D. RD, Bally Total Fitness.

Why is everyone sarcastic?
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:05 AM on December 30, 2004


Okay, NOW my head has exploded. You can't scan me anymore. The cynic in me is just orgasmic here.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:07 AM on December 30, 2004


This is just...

I mean, it's...

SERIOUSLY??!
posted by OhPuhLeez at 9:08 AM on December 30, 2004


this actually is very smart--playing on guilt usually works (at least to reel them in). Don't the vast vast majority of people sign up for a membership and then don't go? i know i have.
posted by amberglow at 9:09 AM on December 30, 2004


Talk about your synergy, man.
posted by jonmc at 9:09 AM on December 30, 2004


Correction: That should have been four-week memberships. Bally's isn't that generous.

Oddly, some articles I've seen on this have mentioned "unlimited number of memberships," which is just vague enough to sound like you could possibly string along the four-week memberships into a long-term engagement. I'm guessing that's not the case, though.

Note also that neither Bally nor Yum have anything at all about this promotion on its website yet.
posted by me3dia at 9:18 AM on December 30, 2004


The more you work out, the more taco bell you eat. Or, at 4 weeks you sign up for a Bally's 18 month membership and just eat more taco bell by justfying it with the 18 month membership you don't use. win/win
posted by Arch Stanton at 9:18 AM on December 30, 2004


They should put up signs at the gyms:

5 HOURS ON THIS MACHINE =
TWO REGULAR GRILLED STUFT STEAK BURRITOS

posted by digaman at 9:19 AM on December 30, 2004


Normally a true parasite does not kill its host or it would be out of business.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:21 AM on December 30, 2004


I used to work at a gym that had a bar in it.

People are going to eat Taco Bell regardless of a free club membership, if the membership gets them into the gym and some of them become more active as a result (and, of course, of course, paying BallyFitness members) then all the better.

Then again, they could become a gym's favorite kind of member, the kind that pays for the membership and never uses it.

Or maybe they're going with an Eastern concept and balancing out the health of the gym with the poison of the fast food place?
posted by fenriq at 9:23 AM on December 30, 2004


Pure genius.

They go in one end fit, inside they get fat and then fit again, they come out the other end and go right back in the front door.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

GENIUS.
posted by chicobangs at 9:24 AM on December 30, 2004


This is offensive. Particularly because Bally's is, in effect, a working class fitness chain, as are the fast food joints. I say, boycott both sides of this alliance!
posted by ParisParamus at 9:27 AM on December 30, 2004


Talk about creating a revolving door....
posted by ParisParamus at 9:28 AM on December 30, 2004


"We're proud to team with five world class restaurants..." said Rob Wildman, Ph.D. RD, Bally Total Fitness.

Why is everyone sarcastic?


[side issue]

As franchise food goes, Taco Bell and A&W are among the better ones (going strictly on taste, although even I find the idea of a beef and potato burrito disgusting), so in that sense they are world class. Pizza Hut on the other hand, sucks ass, I have yet to eat at a Long John Silvers, since we don't have many of them here.
posted by jonmc at 9:32 AM on December 30, 2004


Hasn't fitness gone out of style yet? I claim 2005 as the year of the unrepentant lardass.

But if you do go for this deal, please keep gym etiquette in mind: Don't leave empty chicken buckets on the StairMaster and wipe the sour cream off the Nautilus machines when you are done.
posted by eatitlive at 9:32 AM on December 30, 2004


In Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens, the Horseman of Famine manages a line of gyms and "health food" companies. He's amazed that he can have crowds of people working their butts off who are (a) fat, and (b) dying of malnutrition.

Day by day, it becomes harder for writers of weird fiction to keep pace with reality.
posted by SPrintF at 9:34 AM on December 30, 2004


they should take it further--spend a 1/2 hour on a treadmill, and a chicken nugget pops out as a reward. ; >
posted by amberglow at 9:36 AM on December 30, 2004


pops out of what, dude?

perhaps they could just hang it on a string just in front of the treadmill like bait.
posted by jonmc at 9:37 AM on December 30, 2004


(Before things get ugly, I should note that this post is not intended to denigrate overweight people, exercise fanatics or eaters of fast food. I do not endorse the comments or other members, their families or agents.)
posted by me3dia at 9:46 AM on December 30, 2004


(offer good at participating locations only, no purchase required, avoid direct contact with pants)
posted by jonmc at 9:48 AM on December 30, 2004


I think digaman has it.

I love the way 'restaurant' is used whenever anyone wants to elevate fast food to 'good idea' status.

But how is this different from drug stores selling cigarettes or Walmart selling booze, guns, aspirin and bandages out of the same store ? Freedom of choice, no?
posted by scheptech at 9:48 AM on December 30, 2004


I have a feeling that this scheme also has been engineered to exploit the "fat but fit" myth, which has mostly been debunked.
posted by randomstriker at 9:49 AM on December 30, 2004


I have yet to eat at a Long John Silvers, since we don't have many of them here.

Consider yourself fortunate. I've avoided the restaurant since high school, when my boyfriend worked there. His story about the process of making the cole slaw (tub of shredded cabbage, tub of mayo, and rubber gloves) became the stuff of nightmares for me.

I remember the World Gym I went to in Austin had a deal with the smoothie place across the parking lot. Fortunately, it didn't take me long to realize that the amount of calories in a post-workout drink exceeded the numbers I could reach on the treadmill.
posted by bibliowench at 9:50 AM on December 30, 2004


I wonder if this will allow taco bell/pizza hut to avoid being sued because they are looking out for fat americans by associating themselves with bally's.
posted by Arch Stanton at 10:00 AM on December 30, 2004


I have a feeling that this scheme also has been engineered to exploit the "fat but fit" myth, which has mostly been debunked.

This a bit misleading as the CNN article that you linked to does not define "obese" or "exercise." It's important that these terms are defined so that intelligent conversation can occur on the subject. Are we talking about women who are at least 100 lbs over their suggested weights and whose "exercise" consists of walking around the block 3 times per week? Or, are these women who were 25 lbs overweight and did 30+ minutes of strength training and cardio daily? Not to mention, what were their body fat indexes? One more thing, the study referred to in the article did not include men.
posted by Juicylicious at 10:05 AM on December 30, 2004


I don't see that link as "debunking" anything, randomstriker--it points out that lean, active people have the lowest morbidity/mortality, which we knew. It also points out that lean, sedentary people have much higher morbidity/mortality than lean, active people, which we knew.

Then it jumps right to "obese" people without considering "overweight" people; most studies to date have shown that the active "overweight" have a significantly lower morbidity/mortality than the sedentary lean, and an only slightly higher morbidity/mortality than the active lean. That, to me, is what many people would find counterintuitive in these studies.

And the other key finding has hardly been "debunked" but rather reinforced--whatever your body mass, becoming active dramatically reduces your risks for morbidity and mortality.

So, yes, obese people will improve their risk profiles by losing weight. But that doesn't happen overnight, whereas they can start exercising today and be on the path to improving their health right away, instead of waiting to reach their weight loss goals to do so.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:05 AM on December 30, 2004


His story about the process of making the cole slaw (tub of shredded cabbage, tub of mayo, and rubber gloves)

Noooooo, no ingredients, noooooo, stop the horror.

Sorry, that was just kind of funny. I know, I know, its what they did with the ingredients and their special sauces. Its a bad idea to have teenage boys working with food, its almost as dumb as handing them guns at graduation.
posted by fenriq at 10:07 AM on December 30, 2004


And Burger King is a corporate sponsor of the President's Challenge fitness program. The President's Challenge logo is on all BK Kids newsletters, etc.
posted by smich at 10:19 AM on December 30, 2004


I have yet to eat at a Long John Silvers, since we don't have many of them here.

LJS is fish for people who hate fish: lots of breading, lots of tartar sauce, and very little fish. It's one step up from chum.

I love the idea of a week long membership to a gym. It dovetails nicely with "save the earth, reuse that towel" mentality. I wonder what the risk is to Bally's? If I were a gym, the last thing I would want would be a bunch of overweight high-risk-for-heart-attack patients trying out the treadmills and the steam rooms.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 10:21 AM on December 30, 2004


don't forget LJS's hush puppies tho--out of this world. I wish we had one in manhattan.
posted by amberglow at 10:32 AM on December 30, 2004


I know, I know, its what they did with the ingredients and their special sauces.

Oh. No. No. Really?
I never mentally "went there." My horror was just from the manual manipulation of mayonnaise. But now that you mention it - oh my god. Of course.

And another portion of my youth now falls under the category of "traumatic."
posted by bibliowench at 10:49 AM on December 30, 2004


They need to get People magazine or Cosmo or Maxim or something in on all this.
posted by furiousthought at 10:56 AM on December 30, 2004


Bally's has always been evil. They have some of the worst deals going, contract wise, for their clients; to get a cheap rate, you have to sign up for 1-3 years, and if you move somewhere in the meantime where one is not close enough to use, they *might* let you out of your contract, if *they* feel the commute is too far, and there are all kinds of restrictions on what each type of membership allows you to do as far as using facilities and different locations. God help you if you stop going and default on your contract, as a friend of mine did; credit card collections people have nothing on the Bally's guys.

That's their right of course, but the whole thing is incredibly byzantine, considering that all you really want to do is get a gym membership so you can walk on a treadmill 3x a week. They're like car salesmen, always trying to upsell you and tie you to a contract. I guess they haven't been able to get enough victims through normal channels and have decided to find some new blood.
posted by emjaybee at 11:17 AM on December 30, 2004


His story about the process of making the cole slaw (tub of shredded cabbage, tub of mayo, and rubber gloves) became the stuff of nightmares for me.

Umm... may I ask why? If you've ever ate Subway's Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad, or Seafood and Crab, the process is similar... and then 90% of customers will ad mayo on top of that. Which has led to my hatred of mayonnaise, but not particularly of Subway.
posted by dagnyscott at 12:01 PM on December 30, 2004


I love mayo. Can't spell it, though.

I might try this out. I love fried chicken and I need to lose weight... seems like a perfect combination to me.
posted by Jart at 12:13 PM on December 30, 2004


dagnyscott: It's not the amount of mayonnaise, although I find it to be one of the most disgusting substances on the planet, but rather my friend's description of the sensation of mayo and cabbage squirting through his fingers while he mixed them all together. Maybe you had to be there, maybe it comes from my impression of mayonnaise as the devil's semen, but I can't look at LJS without feeling physically ill.
posted by bibliowench at 12:28 PM on December 30, 2004


Seems like an odd business relationship to me. Do any of those restaurants offer low cal or low carb food options? On the other hand, anything that gets people into a gym is a good thing. Maybe only a few people will stick with it, but those people will be making a positive change in their lives.

I would also encourage people to check out your local YM/WCAs. They are non-profits and normally don't have contracts. Not to mention that a large portion of the fee goes to subsidize children's & senior's programs.
posted by Juicylicious at 12:34 PM on December 30, 2004


Lotta mayo hatred goin' on here. would it help if they got all fancy pants and called it "aoili?" (or however you spell it, I'm an ignoramus)
posted by jonmc at 12:35 PM on December 30, 2004


Of course, don't forget that these 'free' trial periods, memberships etc. always begin with the would-be-customer sitting down with a trainer/salesperson who will ask the pour soul all sorts of questions about their 'goals.' Since most overweight people enter a gym feeling guilty, ugly, and vulnerable, with the only 'goal' being to get more exercise, they're ripe for the exploiting. Sure, they'll say, you can have your little 'free membership,' but that only allows you to use half of the gym every other Wednesday. Wouldn't you like the membership that will let you come in three times per week and the guiding hand of an experienced personal trainer? And aren't you ready to make the committment of a three-year membership, which is actually cheaper in the long run? Are you ready to be good to yourself? Well, are you, punk?
posted by bingo at 12:47 PM on December 30, 2004


Bingo: bingo.
posted by chicobangs at 1:12 PM on December 30, 2004


bibliowench, "manual manipulation of mayonnaise" ... I'll be having a nightmare of that tonight. heh
posted by menace303 at 1:24 PM on December 30, 2004


I can't help but see this in the same light as tobacco companies and warning labels on cigarettes. At first they fought it tooth and nail, but then later used the label as a legal shield.

1) "Our product is great for you."
2) "Ok, so our ptoduct elevates your risk for cancer, but we warned you!"

This move with Bally's makes it look like Yum! is rounding out stage 1 and into stage 2.
posted by cr_joe at 2:11 PM on December 30, 2004


aioli.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:06 PM on December 30, 2004


mayo.
posted by jonmc at 6:28 PM on December 30, 2004


and creme fraiche ain't nothin' but whipped cream. and don't get me started on "hanger steak." It's London Broil, people....
posted by jonmc at 6:31 PM on December 30, 2004


I can't afford a gym membership. I've never eaten anything at Taco bell, but I'd happily go in and order something off their dollar menu if I could get a free month. A month is better than nothing.
posted by duck at 7:44 PM on December 30, 2004


scheptech: drug stores in Canada can't sell cigarettes (the whole mixed messages thing). They still sell chips and cookies and any number of trans-fat and high-fructose corn-syrup-containing products...You don't get free gym memberships for buying them, though.
posted by duck at 7:46 PM on December 30, 2004


Coming soon: the Bally Total Fitness Vomitorium.
posted by nanojath at 9:46 PM on December 30, 2004


duck: What part of Canada are you from? Drugstores in my neck of the woods DO sell cigs and always have.
posted by chemgirl at 11:39 PM on December 30, 2004


What a strange world.

As franchise food goes, Taco Bell and A&W are among the better ones (going strictly on taste, although even I find the idea of a beef and potato burrito disgusting), so in that sense they are world class. Pizza Hut on the other hand, sucks ass, I have yet to eat at a Long John Silvers, since we don't have many of them here.

I agree with you about A&W. As far as eating fast food goes, it's far better than most of the alternatives and really not all that bad if you don't eat there all the time.
posted by The God Complex at 1:19 AM on December 31, 2004


Chemgirl: I'm in Toronto... I guess it's an Ontario thing, though I had assumed it was federal.
posted by duck at 8:08 AM on December 31, 2004


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