Many pundits have taken on the issue of two Americas, divided by income, education, race and more. They usually point to the unfairness of American life, as in some people are privileged and some aren’t. The rich get richer even though they don’t deserve it and the poor get poorer through no fault of their own. Some public school students receive a poor education because their school is underfunded, even though per pupil expenditures are above average. Some other students receive a good education even though the per pupil funding in their school district is below the national average.
But there are two other Americas. Increasing attention is now being paid to what is often referred to as the obesity epidemic. The population of overweight Americans is on the rise, but rarely mentioned is the growth in the population of fit Americans.
One reason for this might be our preoccupation with blaming bad things on people we don’t like. Obesity has an easy target in corporate food processors and fast food chains and the obese among us are seen as their innocent victims. But our physically fit brethren who make their own life style choices are largely ignored by those who see the two Americas as Victims and Victimizers.
Health and fitness clubs in the U.S. are now a $26 billion industry and growing at a steady pace even through economic downturns. There are now nearly 600,000 people employed in nearly 35,000 fitness clubs and gyms across the country. There are fifteen million runners in the U.S., nine million of whom run over 110 days per year. In 2014 nearly 600,000 runners completed marathons in the U.S. and close to two million people competed in half marathons in 2012.
In addition, information on healthy eating is readily available to all. It is clear that anyone who can afford between five and six dollars for a Big Mac, large fries and a supersized soft drink can afford easily available healthy alternatives.
Obviously it is not necessary to join a fitness cub to be fit. Nor is it necessary to be a competitive runner. What is necessary is to make the commitment that millions of people make regardless of socio-economic level, age, race, gender or physical restrictions to eat right and exercise.
Millions of people set aside a portion of their day or week to exercise their body. They know what millions of others have yet to discover, that it is an individiual responsibilitiy to take care of oneself. Two Americas divided by individual choices. Two Americas divided by state of health. It is obvious on it’s face that if more media attention were paid to fit Americans, more people would join their ranks.