City Disses Cycling, Promotes Sham ‘Heart Healthy’ Event

Beverly Hills Healthy CityWho in Beverly Hills City Hall thinks that marketing a local luxe hotel and medical practice will lead to better community health outcomes? Perhaps only a city that turns its back on cycling for fun, fitness, and recreation could embrace the ‘Love Your Body’ workshop promoted in this city press release. It’s part of a new initiative, ‘Beverly Hills Healthy City,’ which prompts us to get moving. Literally! The Mayor, Lili Bosse, leads a popular Monday morning walk. Now we’re all for active mobility, but we don’t think a workshop offering “inspirational personal wellness solutions” is the best means to healthy ends.

But then who are we to quibble about a ‘heart healthy’ workshop like ‘Love Your Body’? We have a health crisis on our hands! Our sedentary lifestyles kill us slowly, public health professionals tell us. Chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes prey on our vulnerable communities. It’s the calorie-rich diet, the over-consumption of entertainment, and the disinclination to actively perambulate, doctors say, that increases body fat while reducing our ability to efficiently metabolize food. Add in the stress of daily living and you’ve got many attenuated lives. They call it a public health crisis.

Per the city’s press release, the ‘Love Your Body’ workshop at the Spa Montage comes to the rescue!

Learn to live a heart healthy lifestyle with fitness and wellness tips from experts who in their own unique way will inspire Beverly Hills to get moving every day….The 20,000 square foot urban oasis is the largest spa in Los Angeles with 17 treatments rooms, a co-ed mineral pool area, a state- of-the-art fitness center and spacious men’s and women’s relaxation areas.

The workshop will feature “cold-pressed juices and healthy treats provided by Montage Beverly Hills” as well as advice from “experts who in their own unique way will inspire” us to burn off the calories. (Helpfully the city press release urges us at the August 13th event to “learn more about Spa Montage’s Fit and Refresh Package” while we work our mind…if not our body.)

But the target market for this ‘Love Your Body’ workshop is not some needy Southland or Central Valley community; nor is it the low-income apartment dwellers of Mid-City, Mar Vista or Culver City, hard-up against too much fast food. Those might be places where public health interventions might be needed, but that’s not the clientele bid by the city’s marketing campaign.

No, the ‘Love Your Body’ workshop targets one specific needy community, and it’s right here at home: the haute bourgeoisie. They tend to recede into the long blocks of the north side so they may not be on the radar. But nevertheless we have to acknowledge that they need help. They live in environments where hazards like plush sofas predominate; where large entertainment systems beg a sit-down; where large residential lots remote from town discourage active mobility. Yes, we have our own expanding waistlines and phlegmatic metabolism issues right here in Beverly Hills!

And while their sedentary lifestyle may seem counter-intuitive given the terrain (the haute precincts of Beverly Hills are hilly), they are burdened with additional life stresses. Like motoring on congested streets and then having to hunt for curbside parking (when your fellow bourgeois have snapped up all of the handicapped spots using bogus placards). Or being tempted nightly by the omnipresence of valet parking. Who would want to walk to a parking structure anyway?

Physical activity like cycling is a proven pathway to fitness. Yet while Beverly Hills embraces the notion of Healthy City, City Hall refuses to take any step to actually encourage active mobility by making our streets safe for those who choose to walk and bike. Transportation officials turn a blind eye and deaf ear to explicit calls to, say, add a bike lane to our major streets. We’ve been asking for continental crosswalks, too, but to no avail; we’ll stick with the faded non-thermoplastic stripes.

For city leaders, it’s simply easier to gin up a hashtag (#BHHealthyCity) and promote a luxe hotel via this bogus ‘complimentary healthy workshop’ (whatever that means) rather than create the conditions that are conducive to active recreation and active transportation.

This August 13th event won’t get us to better health outcomes, but it will dull the day’s sharp edge, one honed by too much time in too much traffic without much opportunity to move one’s body like nature intended.