In case you hadn’t noticed, after decades of near-stagnancy, fitness platforms have shifted in the last few years.
Coming from the fitness industry, where we used to labor over data like market penetration, I can lend some insight.
For a long time, that penetration didn’t move. We were signing up the same roughly 16% of the public every year. Some would quit, others would come back, but we couldn’t crack the percentage barrier.
We could steal members from other gyms, but we any time we were signing up someone for the first time, it was because someone else just quit. The problem? People wanted something else.
Now, it seems, the larger fitness community has responded. We are seeing more and more formats for fitness, but a few key changes to the way we approach fitness that is reshaping everything.
Namely, we’re figuring out how to use group fitness the right way to get more people involved. We’re also toying with more and more platforms for fitness.
This next year, expect more of the same, but we may finally break the 16% barrier. These are the ways it will happen.
There was a time when group fitness meant leg warmers and steppers. The people in charge directed group fitness to a slim demographic; women who wanted to wear leg warmers.
For the rest of us, we had the weight room, the pool or the racquetball court. That movement was no short-lived trend. It stretched from the ‘80s into the recent 2000s.
Thankfully, with developments like Crossfit, functional training centers, and gyms like Orangetheory, fitness proprietors are opening their eyes to bigger world of possibility.
People perform better when there is a community, especially if that community is engaged.
One of the strongest fitness platforms out there is the November Project, which runs on donations, using outdoor spaces and community to drive their growing international member base.
Expect more of this sort of fitness in 2017.
Technology Fitness Mashup
This is already in progress. Gym business models exist, built around wearables, like the MyZone wearable.
These models of fitness will integrate fitness performance data with a community, pairing friends against friends, individuals against themselves or everybody else.
They’ll pull the best parts from community fitness, mashing those parts with the best technology, to build habit-forming communities of Spartan warriors.
Calling dibs on this phrase right now; I made it up.
Even though the Olympics recently recognized parkour as a port, not everybody can jump from rooftops. It’s not really a sport, Olympics.
Besides, the world has enough daredevil parkour nutjobs jumping from tall structures.
In 2017, I predict we’ll see parkour take a more mainstream approach.
Practitioners will call it something else, not Parkour, but the idea of engaging your environment in play (like children) will be more acceptable.
They’ll use every day, low-to-the-ground objects, like park equipment and staircases. They may even use the limbs of the trees in the forest, as in Immersion Fitness.
Read about a version of this in our blog: You’ll Want to Update Your Passport for Immersion Fitness
Call it our nature for violence or pent up aggression from a stressful life, people in the West like to scrap.
If you haven’t heard of the UFC chain of gyms, you will. The same people who started 24 Hour Fitness on the West Coast, started the UFC gym chain.
The UFC brand continues to grow, pulling along the fans of MMA who would join a gym that encourages their desire to spar.
UFC gyms are like normal gyms, (often) with an octagon somewhere in the facility.
Like the Bally Total Fitness before them, they offer platforms to learn boxing and other fighting skills. Big box gyms that don’t offer some kind of fighting will lose ground in 2017.
Pools aren’t just for swimming anymore. In 2017, pool workouts will include submerged spinning classes (they already do) plus modes of cross training.
Instead of mindless laps in the pool, you’ll combine calisthenics and cardio on the deck with laps in the pool. Think Ironman training in the pool area.
In outdoor versions of water training, we’ll see group fitness combined with aspects of the Ironman.
We may also hear of people collapsing from training beyond their ability.
If you’re tired of your current gym, consider a new format altogether.
In the end, the most important aspect of your program is your habit. That you can always redirect, but if your workouts chase you away from your habit, that’s bad.
You can’t improve a habit of zero. In that case, your work is all about starting over, which is lame.
Instead, try something new in 2017. Heck, try something new every month.
There’s a New Year’s resolution I could get behind. You’re gonna have plenty of options if you just look around.