Recently, I got a very interesting email from my business coach. He shared the results of a randomized (and statistically significant) survey he commissioned regarding health and fitness. It was completed by 1500 people to ask about their comfort level when it comes to getting back into a fitness facility.
In short, the results show that people are still not interested and relaxed enough to return to fitness centers.
So, in the bigger picture, what do I think this means for your health and fitness?
First, it means that how the majority of our population views health and fitness has fundamentally changed during the Covid epidemic. The line between offline and online has been blurred forever.
People (and many gyms/trainers) have been forced to get comfortable with technology in a matter of weeks, rather than years. Throughout this process, they’ve realized that they can do MUCH more than they thought at home (both work and fitness), and do so with minimal equipment.
For many people, it’s also helped them realize the value of social connection and the energy of a live group. For others, they realize they can get this in other ways.
This means the relevance of having a gym membership has been called into question. In the future, people will be less likely to merely pay to rent access to equipment in a facility.
Even for “traditional” gym memberships, a hybrid fitness option will likely become the norm. This will look like some customized combination of online and offline resources to meet the specific needs of each person.
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This may seem small on the surface, but it’s a fundamental shift in health and fitness, and society.
There have been many changes in fitness over my 30-year career and I’ve seen multiple fads come and go. Yet, this shift in the mindset and mode of how the public views and consumes health and fitness information is seismic.
For years, I’ve argued that workouts and fitness information are FREE. The past few years have made that abundantly clear.
Just go online and see how many free programs, challenges, and exercises are being posted each day. Fitness classes, workouts, and “online advice” have already become a commodity. If not simply a free service accessible by anyone on demand.
Yet, this doesn’t mean that the fitness industry is going anywhere. It’s growing by the day but already looks very different. By the end of this year, things will look dramatically different. I feel we will look back and ask ourselves why it took so long to evolve our perspective.
If fitness is free, what does that mean for the public as well as fitness professionals and businesses? Don’t worry, the professionals and businesses (or at least some of us) aren’t going anywhere.
More than 2 out of every 3 North Americans are either overweight or obese. 60% have high-stress levels on a daily basis. And over 70% are not happy with their job or current status in life.
This means there is A LOT of work out there…but it’s a different type of work than most fitness businesses provide.
Traditional fitness businesses such as big-box gyms are dinosaurs and commodities in a race to the bottom in both qualities of service and relevance. The fact that there are gyms out there offering $7/month ‘no frills’ memberships clearly speaks to this.
They aren’t there to help people. They are landlords there to collect the monthly rent on the space whether you show up or not. Those that do show up are pushed things like supplements, food, and merchandise to make the business profitable.
So what does this mean to you? It means just what I said earlier. Fitness is free and access to equipment is almost free. This is great news if you already:
Know what to do
How to do it properly
How to continually adapt and modify to your needs
Enjoy doing it
Do it consistently
Those who can’t answer YES to ALL of these statements will benefit from the future of fitness and wellness.
Smart future investments by the public will be made in coaching, customization, comprehension, and connection.
Again, these are already being made by many people. But it’s still a small overall percentage of the population that makes this investment.
Technology, the public’s comfort level with that technology, and the shifting mindset towards online health and fitness content will mean that the traditional barriers to accessing personalized coaching and program customization will fall quickly, if not be removed entirely.
Smart and effective fitness will involve the personalization of your programming. Moving properly to avoid injury while maximizing performance. Knowing WHAT to do, WHY you are doing it. And connecting on a social level with like-minded people.
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Even when fitness is free and available everywhere, this is what people will increasingly CHOOSE to pay for.
Additionally, more and more people will move from buying general memberships and workouts to investing in targeted and customized programs that get them specific results (weight loss, eliminating back pain, running a 5K, learning a new skill, etc.). While allowing them to connect with a vibrant community of people…whether in person, online, or a combination of both.
Then again, those are simply my random thoughts on the subject.