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The beginning of January is like the Superbowl for fitness and wellness brands.

You would think fitness brands would be going all-in to capitalize on this momentum, right? Well, upscale fitness chain Equinox had other plans.

On January 1, Equinox updated the company website and shared controversial social posts claiming the company “Doesn’t Speak January” and isn’t allowing new members to join during the month to prioritize those who are dedicated to fitness year-round.

The statement has been controversial, with some consumers criticizing the brand for shaming those at the beginning of their wellness journey and being exclusionary.

Reading through the tweet replies left me wondering: do we truly expect a company that charges upwards of $330 per month for membership dues to be the poster child for inclusivity?

As a consumer, frequent year-round gym-goer, and former fitness professional, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and disagree with Equinox discouraging new members from joining in January.

If the goal of a brand is to help people live healthier lives, forming the habit of exercise should be encouraged year-round especially when people feel motivated and excited to do so. But I would argue that isn’t the primary goal of Equinox.

Instead, the goal is to sell a lifestyle that prioritizes upscale experiences and social status, not accessible wellness solutions.

When exclusivity is part of a brand’s ethos, exclusive messaging may be disappointing but is ultimately on-brand.