I’ve crawled all over the web to get a sense of how people and exercise are likely to connect as we enter a new year .
What follows is a number of ‘trending’ themes and then my interpretation of why people will be attracted.
Clicking on a red word will take you to an external website; if you go, please come back.
So, here we go:
‘Going Green’ is about people wishing to re-discover the environment. We spend the greater part of our waking lives cocooned inside buildings and have forgotten how beautiful our external environment truly is. So, there is something special about exercising outdoors. How many of us have taken advantage of the recent snowfall in the UK to sledge with family and friends and discovered what fun you can have with the most simplest forms of equipment.
Classless gyms relate to the rise of the low-cost or ‘budget’ club. With membership rates up to 70% lower than the country average rate ($10 US dollars per month if you sign a 12-month agreement), these gyms are affordable to a much broader range of people (hence they cut across ‘class’ barriers that may have prevented people from joining a club, due to cost contraints).
Having ‘fun’ has never been a word closely associated with many health clubs, but that is changing with the arrival of new group classes where exercising plays second fiddle to the ‘F’ word. Take for example ‘Zumba’ which fuses Latin rhythms into a new and exciting class format. The Florida-based company is now expanding overseas using the tagline:
‘Ditch the workout, join the party’.
You will be able to think of many other exercise programmes that tap into this theme, where it is: ‘fun first, fitness second’.
‘Monitor-me’ describes the emergence of devices that help to capture, visualise and share exercise data. It was only three years ago that the word ‘accelerometer’ entered my personal vocabulary. In essence, it is a clever motion sensor that I first saw in a device being worked on by a Unilever team. These small and discreet devices undertake the function of a pedometer, but do it far more efficiently because they can be worn anywhere on the body.
In 2010, accelerometers are ubiquitous. If you have a fairly recent touch-screen phone, chances are there is one embedded inside. So now, companies such as Fitbit, Philips, Adidas and Nike are in the wearable activity tracking business, along with many others.
One of the interesting features of this trend, is the growing acceptance towards ‘wearing’ devices, some of which are designed to be worn, even in bed (to monitor sleep patterns).
As the recession plays havoc with personal budgets, rather than ditch the personal trainer, why not team up with a buddy to share the cost? This means a one-to-one session becomes a one-to-three session.
Something that felt expensive, now becomes affordable.
Associated with ‘gym night, is party night’, this emerging trend combines two, or more exercise formats to create a new hybrid concept. It helps to create a sense of surprise and provide people with a renewed sense of purpose to their exercise routine. As an example, take a look at ‘Spynga’. Spynga mixes a ‘spin’ (cycling) with a yoga class. So, you get a very interesting combination of ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ fitness.
You could think of many other ways of merging two, or more exercise formats to create a new, interesting and fun recipe.
Is this the year where all the great health and fitness content that sits on the web can now be beamed effortlessly onto the family’s main television. This year will see new interfaces that allow us to take an internet-enabled device such as a mobile phone or games console and use it to broadcast web content direct to our living room TV, for free. So turn off the PC and bring those ‘big screen’ health and fitness instructors directly into the living room, courtesy of Wexer.
There is growing acceptance that health and fitness professionals need to quantify the impact they deliver to improving a consumer’s fitness outcomes. Measuring member ‘attendance’ for example as a key means of justifying the role of a health club, seems so 20th Century given the technology now at our disposal (see Monitor-me trend).
As the health club industry positions itself as an important health and fitness delivery partner with governments around the globe, then so providing tangible and robust evidence becomes paramount.
Will 2010 see the rise of the ‘super-coach’? What’s a super-coach? This is where the business coach, meets lifestyle mentor and personal trainer. A realisation that we need to focus just as much on our mental, well-being and spiritual capabilities, as much as our physical state. This requires a hybrid coach who can effortlessly mentor a client on matters as diverse long-term personal goals, clarifying our sense of purpose, nutrition, fitness advice/instruction, confidence and communication skills. Becoming a super-coach requires many years of professional development (none of this silly 12-week ‘intensive’ programme options peddelled over the web).
So, there you have it, a rapid-round-up of trending themes that are coming to a gym, park or other community space near you during 2010.
I hope you’ve found this round-up informative. Please leave a comment.
Sources: I’ve drawn on an extensive web search and my own observations of the world, but would like to give a special mention to the American College of Sports Medicine