Indoor Tanning: The Skin Cancer Risk You Don't Know About
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A $5 Billion Business
Health clubs that house tanning salons usually get a flat fee or a percentage of the tanning profits from this $5-billion-plus-a-year industry. "Gyms really only need a small percentage of their clients to take advantage of the tanning beds for them to be cost-effective," says UltraSun USA president Fabels.
How can fitness centers -- the very image of good health -- feel comfortable with such a partnership? Although the American Council on Exercise doesn't have an official stance, its chief science officer, Cedric Bryant, PhD, says the organization will likely address it in the future, asking its members to "think twice about whether partnering with tanning salons is a safe or healthy practice." Representatives of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, an organization for health and fitness professionals, declined to comment.
Many of those we interviewed, such as Peter Taunton, CEO of Snap Fitness, put the onus on the customer to make healthy decisions: "We hope club members will choose to tan in moderation, at a level that makes them feel more healthful." Only one of the gyms we spoke to denounced the gym/tanning alliance. Cassie Findley, director of continuing education and research for Curves, said, "It's irresponsible for any gym to present tanning in a positive light. To imply tanning is as good for you as working out is grievously misleading."
Above all, gyms that offer tanning say they're giving people what they want. "Providing everything under one roof simplifies women's lives," says Planet Beach CEO Smith. "Partnering with gyms creates an opportunity for an individual to incorporate total wellness into their weekly regimen." But Dr. Barich points out, "Gyms don't offer tanning to help make people healthy; they do it for money." Which puts the power to condone or condemn gym tanning in the lap of consumers. If it were in your health club, what would you do?
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