THE WEEKLY HOWL IS NOW THE WEEKLY BLOCKCHAIN

Motivation: The path of least resistance guides a great deal of human behavior and nutrition is no exception. We are in the midst of an obesity epidemic and a lot of that is the result of having cheap junk food within arm’s reach at all times. You can attach this from 2 angles. The first is trying to remove all that junk food from arm’s reach. San Francisco tried this a few years ago by banning vending machines from city property. The second is by trying to make all that junk food not so cheap. From Vox:

Now researchers from New York University and Tufts writing in the American Journal of Public Health are making the case for shifting food prices in ways that steer consumers toward healthier diet choices. 

More specifically, they argue, a junk food tax — on “non-essential” foods like candy, soda, and potato chips — should be the next frontier in public health. 

According to their review of the scientific literature on junk food tax bills and laws, a federal tax on unhealthy foods would be both legally and administratively feasible in the US. Instead of a sales tax that would show up at the point of purchase, the researchers argue for an excise tax on junk food manufacturers. That should increase the shelf price of junk foods and beverages, and deter consumers from bringing unhealthy food choices to the checkout counter in the first place.

                  Believe it or not, this has been successful in other counties. Passing that would be a challenge here but it is heartening to know that there are some possible solutions.

The World Health Organization has looked at the Hungary tax, and found that junk food consumption decreased both because of the price increase and also the educational campaigns around the tax — an effect also seen with soda taxes. “Consumers of unhealthy food products responded to the tax by choosing a cheaper, often healthier product (7 to 16 percent of those surveyed), consumed less of the unhealthy product (5 to 16 percent), changed to another brand of the product (5 to 11 percent) or substituted some other food (often a healthier alternative).”

                  Soda taxes would have been unthinkable a decade ago but we’re starting to see them now. It can take a while for public perception to shift but it can happen.

It costs how much: Boutique fitness isn’t cheap. In fact, it is very expensive. How expensive? Let’s find out. Carrie Carrollo from PopSugar kept track of all of her fitness purchases and added them up:

Grand Total: $452.89 for 11 boutique classes, a pair of cycling shoes, and a monthly gym membership. Yikes! After I subtract the shoes and factor in POPSUGAR's (totally awesome) $50 employee wellness reimbursement, my actual total comes out to $272.36 out of pocket.

Well, folks, there you have it. You're probably looking at that number and judging me — and that's totally OK because I'm judging myself a bit, too. Of course you can stay active for significantly less — or even free — but do I regret it? Not one bit. Working up a good sweat and finding alone time (preferably in dark rooms with loud music) is one of my favorite things in the world. That being said, I'm still a 22-year-old who pays her own bills, so it's not quite the most sustainable habit. As a result, I've since dialed it back and shifted how (and where) I spend my money on working out. Group fitness keep me accountable, so I joined a gym that offers a range of classes I enjoy the most and which has awesome amenities to boot. I'll continue to pop into boutique studios when I feel like I need it or simply want to join a friend.

                  That’s a lot of money. I have to wonder how sustainable all of this is? I’m the first person to say that fitness is priceless but we all have to live on some kind of budget. Is there some kind of business model that can make boutique fitness affordable without destroying what people love about it? Maybe it’s streaming or possibly some kind of bundling. For all of ClassPass’ success, it seems that they are struggling to pull this off and now it looks like they’re pivoting to streaming.

How to Make Friends and Blast Your Quads: For some reason, I never seem to get sick of articles about how working out is replacing golf as the premier networking activity. It’s probably because golf has never interested me and I never liked the idea that not playing it would hold back my career. Anyway, from Bloomberg:

Most health trends come and go almost as fast as you’ve unpacked your cold-press juicer. 

But the business world’s affinity for combining client meetings and workouts is only getting stronger at intensive fitness spots such as Barry’s Bootcamp, SoulCycle, and Rumble, as well as gyms like those of Equinox Holdings Inc. The trend has been building for a while with professionals in media relations and the entertainment industry in such cities as New York and Los Angeles. With bankers slowly embracing the model in recent years, Wall Street is now fully engaged in this approach.

“Instead of going out, I see so many entertain by going to workout classes before and after work,” says Sean Liebowitz, a director and energy/industrials trader at Sanford Bernstein& Co., who specifically mentions Rumble, SoulCycle, and Ripped as popular venues.

            Who has time to play golf anyway? Playing 18 holes takes up at least 4 hours. I can’t even imagine when I would try to squeeze that in. I love fitness and it’s a battle to find 1 hour every day to do something that makes me a better person. It sounds like Wall Street is starting to feel the same way:

The high-intensity biking destination SoulCycle now has a four-person corporate sales team to accommodate demand for events and special business requests. “There are only so many steaks business people want to eat in a week,” says Gabby Etrog Cohen, senior vice president of public relations and brand strategy. “Across the board, people are time-strapped, they don’t have four hours to hit the golf course, or two hours for a boozy meal. Plus, they want to do something good for themselves, plus they get networking out of it.”

                  There are a lot of things wrong with the world right now but an increased focus on fitness is not one of them. It’s also never been a better time to be a fitness professional.

Don’t be this guy: The owner of a CrossFit box in North Carolina thought that it would be a good idea to post pictures of his female members’ posteriors with sexualized captions to Instagram. Needless to say, this has turned out the way that he pictured in his head.

A person upset with the video took still shots from it and posted them on Facebook, stating that it was inappropriate. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 850 people had offered reviews of Blue Ridge CrossFit, dropping the gym's rating to 1.5 stars out of five and leaving often blistering comments.

While Tomlo contends the video was shot in a sense of fun and with the women's consent, at least one woman in the video disputes that.

"To me, it’s disgusting," said Arden resident Amanda Turlington, who said she's in the video but did not see it until it was posted to social media on Instagram and a friend alerted her. "Here we have women in a vulnerable position, and what does he do? He takes the opportunity to take video where we're all inverted and you have no idea what we're doing, and he takes that when we can't tell what he's doing, and then posts that inappropriate video and inappropriate hashtags on the image of our bodies on Instagram for everyone to see."

                  After the initial backlash, did he realize the error of his ways and offer an apology? Of course not.

The controversy erupted over the weekend, in part because of a profanity-laden response Tomlo posted, chastising those who were offended. 

"It has been brought to my attention that some people chose to get butt hurt today and make a public post in this group," Tomlo wrote, suggesting that if members are upset they should schedule a meeting with him to discuss the matter or "find a place that is a better fit for you."

"Creating some sort of delusional and ignorant drama is not your option here," Tomlo wrote.

                  What a dumbass. How can you expect people to feel comfortable in your gym if pictures like this are going to show up on Instagram? It really pisses me off when someone like this jackass thinks that he should be able to dictate what someone is allowed to be offended by. If you want to be funny, make yourself the subject of the joke. Objectifying women and then trying to defend it as humor is pathetic.

Bitcoin Bubble: Fitness apps are very hot right now. Investors are interested in the potential of software to help people work out. But you know what’s even hotter? Crypto-currencies! If only there were some way to combine the two. From TechCrunch:

Want a way to workout and earn some coin? Sweatcoin has risen to the top of the App Store for helping folks get something more than just a glow for taking those daily steps.

The startup says it has accumulated more than 5 million users in the past year and increased revenue by 266 percent in the last quarter. There are more than 2 million weekly active users on the app, and growing, making it one of the fastest-growing fitness apps in the App Store and second to the top in the free apps, next only to the Google Arts & Culture app that blew up over the weekend.

It works like this: users sign up and then hook up their smartphone’s health and fitness data and GPS location to the app. The app then tracks how many steps you take in a day and rewards you a monetary “sweat” value according to your movements. For every 1,000 steps recorded, the app will pay out .95 in “sweatcoins.” Users can later trade these coins in for fitness gear, workout classes, gift cards and a number of other offerings.

                  Also:

Co-founder Anton Derlyatka also told TechCrunch he’d like to “even include the ability to pay taxes with sweatcoin” in the future. Other co-founder Oleg Fomenko also mentioned plans to develop an “open-source blockchain DLT technology that will allow Sweatcoin to be traded like any other major crypto- or fiat currency.”

“We are out to fundamentally change the value ascribed to health and fitness and provide the motivation for people to lead better lives,” Fomenko said.

                  Are they serious or is this just an attempt to pull a Kodak? Do they really believe that Sweatcoins are going to become an actual currency? That sounds like some weird, dystopian future ala Idiocracy. The thing that I really want to know is how they plan to make money. Paying people to work-out has not panned out for other startups and I don’t see what’s different about SweatCoin other than a tenuous connection to blockchain.

Lead by example: Donald Trump had his annual physical last week which inspired Splinter to propose that he complete the Presidential Fitness Test instead:

On Friday, Donald Trump received his first physical exam as president. On Tuesday, his doctor, Ronny Jackson—who also served under George W. Bush and Barack Obama—did his best to reassure the White House press pool, the rest of the country, and the world that the president is the picture of mental and physical health.

Physical examinations: No fun! So boring! Rather than undergoing a monotony of blood and pee tests, I have an exciting alternative option for the president: compete in the Presidential Physical Fitness Test.

If you went to public school in the United States between 1966 and 2012, you should know what I’m talking about. Each spring, your gym teacher would pull out the ol’ clipboard and announce it was time to compete for the Presidential Physical Fitness Award, created to honor the most boneheaded jocks in your class and humiliate everyone else.

Then the tests would begin: the pull-up (for boys); the flexed-arm hang (for girls); the standing broad jump; the sit-and-reach (aka the Dreaded Box Test); and of course, the beep test, also known as the pacer test, also known as the shuttle run.

                  I have a better idea: why doesn’t the President complete the military PFA (Physical Fitness Assessment). Active duty service members have to pass a PFA every six months. It would be great to see the Commander-in-Chief show some support by doing one as well. It would be a magnificent photo opportunity and at the same time it would build awareness of what the military lifestyle entails. Plus, a 4 year term would allow the President to cycle through the PFA’s of the 4 service branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines). It’s almost impossible to imagine Trump doing a PFA since he treats exercise with disdain (and has the physique to show for it) but I could picture Barack Obama or George W. Bush doing it.

                  Let’s make this happen once we get a President who’s not afraid to break a sweat. The media would love it, the military would love it, and voters would love it. And it would be a great way for the Commander-in-Chief to display his or her fitness as the leader of the free world.

Performance Enhancing Drugs: If a sport isn’t conducting random, year-round drug testing, then its drug testing program is a joke. Scheduled testing allows athletes to cycle off and piss clean when they need to. Testing has to be random to even have a prayer of catching anyone. Even then, cheaters will find a way to cheat. Just ask Lance Armstrong. Why am I bringing this up? Because I was pleasantly surprised to see that CrossFit is doing random, year-round testing. From The Barbell Spin:

The Wodapalooza Fitness Festival is one of the largest functional fitness competitions in the world. Top CrossFit athletes have descended down to Miami, Florida, for the last competition before the start of the 2018 CrossFit Open. CrossFit Games veterans like Katrin Davidsdottir, Kari Pearce, Dakota Rager and Garret Fisher are in attendance.

But CrossFit athletes are not the ones in attendance. CrossFit HQ has sent its drug testing partner, Drug Free Sport, down to Miami to conduct drug tests of some of the top athletes.

CrossFit is coming out of a year that saw its 3rd place finisher at the CrossFit Games, Ricky Garard, fail a drug test. As the Open approaches, Dave Castro and CrossFit appear to be making its drug testing program front and center.

                  It’s refreshing to see a sports organization try to get in front of the PED problem. CrossFit hasn’t had a full-blown drug scandal yet but it appears that they are trying to prevent one instead of sticking their head in the sand and pretending that it’s somehow exempt from the temptation to cheat.

TidBits:

-Fitness app Zeamo has info on 25,000 gyms worldwide

-MTV is starting a fitness vertical

-You can now register for the CrossFit Open

-“Wellness is the new nightlife”

-Planet Fitness stock is up 70% over the last year