From the January 1996 issue of Entrepreneur

Couch potatoes may be an endangered species. A Surgeon General's report due to be released in May targets the sedentary lifestyle as public fitness enemy number one. And by touting the benefits of physical activity, this first-of-its-kind report aims to raise heart rates throughout the nation.

"[The report] has the potential to have as great an impact on people's attitudes and behaviors as the Surgeon General's report on tobacco did when it came out in 1964," says Mary Ann Hill, director of communications for the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, which teamed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the commissioning of the study.

Gregg Hartley, executive director of the Fitness Products Council, sees potential in the Surgeon General's report as well. "This gives [the fitness industry] an opportunity to build something around the report that can, over a period of three to five years, affect the way people think about physical activity," he says.

For the fitness industry, this manifesto on physical activity couldn't have come at a better time. With health clubs reporting membership gains and sports participation levels rising, it seems the American public is particularly receptive to fitness appeals. Looks like couch potatoes will have to shape up . . . or ship out.

Contact Sources

Fitness Products Council, 200 Castlewood Dr., North Palm Beach, FL 33408, (407) 842-4100;

President's Council On Physical Fitness And Sports, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20004, (202) 272-3421;