Once More Free Enterprise Dies at the Hand of the State

definition-of-wellnessIn a recent article via The Jackson Sun, the County Commission decided that the integration of two county bodies was more appropriate than any biding process or even the better course of letting their own employees chose the manner that they select due to proximity, equipment, or a manner of other personal reasons when it comes to health issues. Instead the Commission decided to take that personal decision away from its employees and maybe that’s okay since the county pays those fees, I am sorry, you pay those fees via the taxes that are collected from your hard work.

At the commission meeting and several meetings that I have attended in the past, members of the bodies tossed around the term “wellness” as if it was some magic key to longevity when in fact “wellness” is one of those vague new words created to gray up the area of spending of even greater amount of tax dollars. More than ever before, we hear this word in the news, on billboards, in conversation and even at work and we speak of it as if we were experts on the term. Interestingly, there is no universally-accepted definition of wellness. We generally see a reference to a “state of well-being,” which is vague, to say the least.  Also frequently seen is a “state of acceptance or satisfaction with our present condition.” Another vague set of words set to provide some sort of emotional appeal.

Some time ago Charles B. Corbin of Arizona State University, a very renowned retired professor of health, gave us this definition of wellness: “Wellness is a multidimensional state of being describing the existence of positive health in an individual as exemplified by quality of life and a sense of well-being.”

Jack_LaLanne_on_TVA lot of words for good health and exercise. Myself, I tend to listen the Jack LaLanne, whom I watched as a youngster. For those of you not familiar with him, he passed away in 2011.

His primary goal was to encourage and motivate his clients to improve their overall health via the new found media, TV.

Doctors, however, advised their patients to stay away from his health club, a business totally unheard of at the time, and warned their patients that “LaLanne was an exercise ‘nut,’ whose programs would make them muscle-bound” and cause severe medical problems. LaLanne recalls the initial reaction of doctors to his promotion of weight-lifting:

People thought I was a charlatan and a nut. The doctors were against me—they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive.

LaLanne designed the first leg extension machines, pulley machines using cables, and the weight selectors that are now standard in the fitness industry. He invented the original model of what became the Smith machine. LaLanne encouraged women to lift weights (though at the time it was thought this would make women look masculine and unattractive). By the 1980s, Jack LaLanne’s European Health Spas numbered more than 200. He eventually licensed all his health clubs to the Bally company, now known as Bally Total Fitness. Though not associated with any gym, LaLanne continued to lift weights until his death.

LaLanne presented fitness and exercise advice on television for 34 years. The Jack LaLanne Show was the longest-running television exercise program. According to the SF Chronicle TV program archives, it first began on September 28, 1953 as a 15 minute local morning program (sandwiched between the morning news and a cooking show )on San Francisco’s ABC television station, KGO-TV, with LaLanne paying for the airtime himself as a way to promote his gym and related health products. LaLanne also met his wife Elaine while she was working for the local station. In 1959, the ABC network picked up the show for nationwide broadcast, which continued until 1985.

The show was noted for its minimalist set, where LaLanne inspired his viewers to use basic home objects, such as a chair, to perform their exercises along with him. Wearing his standard jumpsuit, he urged his audience “with the enthusiasm of an evangelist,” to get off their couch and copy his basic movements, a manner considered the forerunner of today’s fitness videos.

All of this done at home or for me in the office as a 15 minute break. That with a good 20 minute walk (at my age and the injuries that I have had over the years running is not in the picture) and a couple of free weights I can stay in decent shape. Okay I am no Jack LaLanne nor Arnold S. but for an hour and a half I can take you apart on a tennis court. All this without governmental aid.

During their Monday meeting the Madison County Commission allowed some discussion over the use of the LIFT Wellness Center by county employees as reported by the Sun:

The meeting was held at 6 p.m. Monday at the West Tennessee Research and Education Center. Madison County Mayor Jimmy Harris, who was unable to attend, was represented by Deputy Mayor Tony White.

White said the LIFT Wellness Center was chosen to serve county employees because of its integration of health and wellness in a fitness facility. “Wellness is part of health,” he said.

Harrison Hayes, a representative of Family Care Walk-In Clinic, attended Monday’s meeting. Hayes asked the board why they chose to partner with the LIFT Center, which is affiliated with West Tennessee Healthcare, rather than a small business.

But a majority of commissioners agreed that their initiative was to keep their employees healthy in the long term with a facility focused on overall wellness.

My argument is not in opposition to exercise but the governments insisting that exercise be funded by tax payers as a matter of public health, now that is another question and an even more insulting to my sensibilities the funding going to a public entity purposely designed to compete with private enterprise…. what next might be defined as a enterprise worthy of the governments eye…. maybe flooring as a matter of wellness?

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