LeBron James. Michael Jordan. Usain Bolt. A few years ago, these athletes were centerpieces to the athletic apparel industry’s ad campaigns. However, 2015 paints a very different picture; now, commercials showcase typical Americans attending CrossFit, jogging down the street or just living active lifestyles. Being an athlete is no longer a title reserved for professionals paid millions of dollars. Today, fitness has become a lifestyle rather than an activity. According to these commercials, fitness is now the number-one sport.
To help us remember that we are all athletes, the typical players will be there to make sure we see commercials, Facebook ads, billboards, etc., depicting unnamed persons just embracing a lifestyle rather than a specific celebrity doing one sport. I am certainly not saying this is a good or bad shift — it has been interesting to watch people become empowered to embrace the active lifestyle (clothing, messaging, attitude) regardless of whether they are engaged in any form of activity or not. The simple fact for the industry is that it wants everyone to consume this lifestyle, regardless of exercise.
Sure, online articles and blogs are still leading with “The Top 6 Ways JLaw Got Fit for X-Men” or “9 Exercises You Are Doing Totally Wrong.” However, the tide has definitely turned from fitness being about actual exercises to embracing the lifestyle of exercise. What will this mean for the future of fitness? What will happen now that we know companies can pour money into this lifestyle and get consumers who were never in their demographics before? It certainly opens up the idea of a wider public inside of fitness, which certainly means new ways for the industry to operate internally and along with other industries.
After reviewing some of the fitness trends on the rise, here is my list of the most notable things to be on the lookout for.
Traditional Fitness & Non-Exercise Brands Competing for You
The lines between fitness and non-fitness companies are slowly dissolving. Just recently, Equinox, a high-end gym, announced it will be building hotels for active lifestyles. This should come as no surprise as its tagline is, “It’s not fitness. It’s life.” Walking into Lululemon recently, I seemed to find more non-workout clothes in the men’s department than ones I could actually use at my upcoming boot camp class. The days of companies that only exist to help you exercise are gone. As the world of fitness starts to include new people, the brands will evolve to satisfy needs of those people. Fitness will become something not so niche but rather more commonplace in your shopping experiences.
Activity Data to Fuel Business
The rapid adoption of wearables has triggered everyday competitions with our closest friends and coworkers for “steps.” It is estimated that one in 10 adults owns a fitness tracker, a number that is only expected to increase. As we have more readily available data that can be transferred to companies like our health insurance providers, they can provide accurate incentives based on our lifestyles. Now that mainstream trackers can read our heart rates, it won’t just be our steps companies are interested in tapping into — it won’t be long before our activity level, steps or heart rate could be used as a form of currency with some vendors.
Mass Personalization of Fitness
As the trend of leveraging technology to help personalize the way we consume services has emerged, it has made its way into fitness. As my company, peerFit, is one of the companies in the space of flexible fitness memberships, the wave of unbundling traditional long-term gym memberships is upon us. With 51 percent of medium- and large-size employers offering worksite wellness plans, solutions to help give every employee his or her own special personalized access to fitness lifestyles will be abundant.
The age of the athlete is upon us now. That means we don’t need to look up to the stars to see our fitness role models; we simply need to look up across from us at workout class, spot our peers while out on a walk or see the mom who has managed to squeeze in some quick squats in between feeding her three young children.