Full of Surprises: Dietary Supplements and the Gym, or, a Tale of Corporate Social Responsibility

Synopsis: Working out at the gym is a healthy endeavor, but many gyms endorse unhealthful practices.  They may advertise or sell dietary supplements for weight loss or muscle building that not only fail to do what they promise, but contain potentially dangerous ingredients.  Callie Guertin is a primary care physician in Hamilton, in the fictitious U.S. state of Columbia, and a daily gym-goer who is slowly awakening to the fact that her chosen new gym, MuscleTone, sells weight-loss supplements at its welcome desk.  She wants them to stop; but what can she do on her own?  With some guidance from a young activist, Stacie Lubin, and her sympathetic personal trainer, Rudi, Guertin learns skills of coalition building to pressure the MuscleTone chain to change its practices. Perhaps, using principles of corporate social responsibility, or CSR, MuscleTone can be made to realize that abandoning sales and advertising of supplements can produce a good result for everybody—healthier customers, of course, but also a new marketing campaign touting MuscleTone as the gym for “healthy living”?  Guertin and her allies are working on MuscleTone to make just this case.

Skills: Through this case students learn how to use principles and strategies for motivating corporate social responsibility to promote health and well-being in consumers.

Narrative Document for Students

Lesson Plan for Teachers