The august 22nd NY Times. Under a fascinating article called “the sofa wars” (not kidding  … and, yes, NY Times is still a great newspaper) there was a small news piece on a gym that offers cocktail hours after their boot camp fitness training classes. Oh. And the cocktail hours (not the boot camps) are sponsored by a vodka called Svedka.

Ok. Couple things here. Let me begin with the vodka sponsorship.

Sweet move on their part.

I have never heard of the brand (although they claim to be #5 globally) and their claim is “Voted #1 Vodka of 2033.” and “You can have it all with SVEDKA – the fastest growing vodka in the world!”

Awesome marketing bullshit stuff.

They get to say #1 (because it is 2033 for god’s sake). Oh. And I am sure some ‘branding consultant’ suggested “hey, if you say #1 in 2033 everyone will think … ‘aspirational! I should buy now when it is cool and I can say I drank it before they became #1 and everyone drinks it!’ …” “SVEDKA is the vodka of the future.”

Fire their ass.


“Fastest growing.” Well. Let’s see. If you have sold exactly one case. And now because of his new deal you sell 200 cases. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm … that may truly become the fastest growing by god. Brilliant.

Regardless of all the marketing mumbo jumbo.

Sveda is actually doing a smart thing in a tough category where differentiation is very very difficult. And the fitness sponsorship loosely ties in with the vodka’s “RU Bot Or Not?” ad campaign (which features a female robot with some “healthy” proportions).

The Sveda “dancing machine” tv:


Onto the second point.

The whole ‘alcohol and health & fitness’ tie in.


I love a good cocktail as much as anyone. Maybe even more than a lot of people. And I do love a good workout and love sports and shit like that.

But please … please … please don’t try and tell me that mixing the two of them is a good thing (if you truly want to claim to be a fitness club).

The owner of the fitness center said he doesn’t mind that it seems hypocritical to tempt his members with a drink that’s not as healthy as water. He says, “It’s better to work out and drink than to not work out and drink. Our members have intense lives, and some people party and that’s all the more need to work out.”

If you want some logic there you go.
Anything else?

“Sweat and alcohol are both great social lubricants,” says the owner of Barton Gym. “I want people to find the gym not just a place to work out, but a good hang as well.”  What this all means is that after the boot camp exercise classes (and a shower one would hope) they get their cocktails made with clementine-flavored vodka, orange juice, sour mix and fresh mint.


And here is some logic on why vodka (just to show they truly thought this through)
“It’s a little weird to serve bourbon or Scotch. Tequila might seem out of control. Vodka seems like the right complement to the gym.”

There you go.

Awesome stuff.


Unfortunately while I love this concept I have written a lot about Healthy Intake and body image and self esteem and anti-obesity and stuff like that so I feel compelled to finish this one off with some nice little factoids.

There has been a boatload of studies on alcohol and abdominal obesity. Yeah. If you look hard enough and at enough studies you can find something somewhere that you could point to and say “see! I can drink and lose weight (or get a better figure).” But. Stop. Just stop. You are being foolish.

Analysis of the study results pretty much conclusively shows alcohol as a factor that hurts your efforts to lose body fat.


Whether alcohol is “fattening” has been a very controversial subject because technically speaking, alcohol is NOT stored as fat – it is oxidized ahead of other fuels (whatever that really means).


Whether moderate drinking is healthy has also been a subject of controversy. Many studies show that cardiovascular health benefits are associated with moderate beer or wine drinking.


Here is the truth about the ‘beer belly’ phenomenon (abdominal fat or that stuff that we lovingly call love handles and belly fat).

There is a study, by Ulf Riserus and Erik Inglesson, was based on the Swedish Uppsala Longitudinal cohort. The researchers found that alcohol intake had a very “robust” association between alcohol intake, waist circumference and waist to hip ratio. They pointed out that a high alcohol intake, especially hard liquor, was closely associated with abdominal body fat, not just overall body mass.

Abdominal fat accumulation is not just a cosmetic problem; it can be a serious health risk. Abdominal fat, also known as “android” or “central” obesity, increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, high blood lipids, glucose intolerance and elevated insulin levels.


And it doesn’t look good if you want to look good (just a self appearance issue beyond all the health gobbledygook).


Tell yourself whatever you want to tell yourself but it sure looks like there’s some scientific support to tie alcohol to “abdominal fat” after all (or at least a “beer belly” according to the study).


I won’t preach or lecture.

It just seemed silly to me for a fitness club to start tying in with alcohol an keep a straight face.

Let me finish with some truth and suggestions if you still want to drink and get in shape.

The best advice I found came from a place called and they had a nice matter-of-fact way of looking at maintaining a normal life (for those of us who love a good cold beer or cocktail on occasion and don’t want to go completely crazy and stop completely) and drinking alcohol:

(disabledworld) To summarize this into some practical, take-home advice, here are 7 of my personal tips for alcohol consumption in the fitness lifestyle:

1. Don’t drink on a fat loss program. Although you could certainly drink and “get away with it” if you diligently maintained your calorie deficit as noted above, it certainly does not help your fat loss cause or your nutritional status.

2. Drink in moderation during maintenance. For lifelong weight maintenance and a healthy lifestyle, if you drink, do so in moderation and only occasionally, such as on weekends or when you go out to dine in restaurants. Binge drinking and getting drunk has no place in a fitness lifestyle (not to mention hangovers aren’t very conducive to good workouts).

3. Don’t drink daily. Moderate drinking, including daily drinking, has been associated with cardiovascular health benefits. However, I don’t recommend daily drinking because behaviors repeated daily become habits. Behaviors repeated multiple times daily become strong habits. Habitual drinking may lead to heavier drinking or full-blown addictions and can be hard to stop if you ever need to cut back.

4. Count the calories. If you decide to have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine or two (or whatever moderation is for you), be sure to account for the alcohol in your daily calorie budget.

5. Watch your appetite. Don’t let the “munchies” get control of you during or after you drink (Note to chicken wing and nacho-eating men: The correlation to alcohol and body fat is higher in men in almost all the studies. One possible explanation is that men tend to drink and eat, while women may tend to drink instead of eating).

6. Watch the fatty foods. When drinking, watch the fatty foods in particular. A study by Angelo Tremblay back in 1995 suggested that alcohol and a high fat diet are a combination that favors overfeeding.

7. Enjoy without guilt. If you choose to drink (moderately and sensibly), then don’t feel guilty about it or beat yourself up afterwards, just enjoy the darn stuff, will you!

In the end?

I love a good cocktail (or five).

I love a good beer (or dozen).

I love a good bottle of wine (or two).

I love the social aspect.

But. If I want to be in shape. And I want to be fit. Alcohol doesn’t enhance the program. I know that. Doesn’t mean I stop drinking. I am just aware.


Silly gimmick by a gym. Very silly.

Written by Bruce