From Schwarzenegger to Zen: Commentary on the shift of intensions within the fitness industry.

Updated: Oct 7


mindfulness in fitness

Some of you reading this may remember the era of fitness gurus, with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jane Fonda, and Richard Simmons advising us on how the get the leanest legs or biggest biceps. Even today there is no shortage of celebrity fitness trainers and instructional videos designed to bring you to the edge of death from exhaustion.


Yet, emerging amongst the endless rep counting and results-driven fitness goals is a shift towards more holistic ideals. People no longer associate fitness with just sweat, physical exertion, and improving one’s outer appearance. This traditional concept is being pushed aside and replaced with a lifestyle of well-being and treating movement as a form of mental and physical medicine. Part of this shift is undoubtedly linked to Covid and the impact it had on one’s traditional consumption of fitness activities, as well as their understanding of what it means to be fit – both physically and mentally.

People no longer associate fitness with just sweat, physical exertion, and improving one’s outer appearance. This traditional concept is being pushed aside and replaced with a lifestyle of well-being and treating movement as a form of mental and physical medicine.

Globally, Covid led to a shift in daily habits. Most notably since people could no longer go to the gym and partake in a collective fitness experience, they instead wanted more personalized content tailored to their personal goals, level of fitness, and lifestyle. Key players in the market, therefore, started introducing fitness apps to capitalize on the growing consumer demand, adding new functions and features to enhance the customer experience[1]. During the first half of 2020, health and fitness app downloads alone grew by nearly 50%[2]; highlighting the growing trend of digital fitness as well as a heightened awareness about overall well-being.


Globally, Covid led to a shift in daily habits. Most notably since people could no longer go to the gym and partake in a collective fitness experience, they instead wanted more personalized content tailored to their personal goals, level of fitness, and lifestyle.

Another direct effect Covid had on the fitness landscape, was no longer travelling to the gym to get the fulfilled workout experiences. One study found that 60% of Americans enjoyed their home workouts so much, they now plan on cancelling their gym membership for good[3]. Through mobile apps, people can more easily manage their own health, promote healthy living, and receive high-quality personalized content all in the comfort of their home. Brick-and-mortar gyms quickly hopped on this digital bandwagon, offering on-demand and livestream workout models to stay relevant with the rapidly changing fitness landscape and reach their remote clients.

60% of Americans enjoyed their home workouts so much, they now plan on cancelling their gym membership for good.

However, the solitude of working from home also revealed how much people require social interactions for mental health. Experimenting in alternative forms of fitness was one outlet to focus on one’s overall well-being. As a result, people have become interested in combining exercise and mental relaxation to relieve stress. Similarly, fitness enthusiasts also started looking for ways to promote physical and mental well-being in unison rather than as two separate activities[4]. For example, yoga and pilates are quoted as one method to bring the mind and body into the same “workout”[5]. People want to be more connected with their movements and have a better understanding of safe and correct posture.


Even before Covid, it could be argued that individuals and companies alike were already exploring fitness as a more general form of well-being – taking aspects such as smoking cessation, daily movements, or meditation and combining them with exercise to form positive lifestyle habits. Activity trackers, as launched by FitBit, Adidas, and Asics, are other prime examples of how daily fitness started to be viewed in more measurable and achievable fitness goals. Thus, a culture was created in which people could celebrate smaller, daily achievements and focus on healthy movement as a form of exercise.


Further stemming from that, adding gamification to exercising was yet another impactful way that fitness started to depart from the pre-conceptions of where and how exercising should be performed. Before this, playing games as a form of exercise seemed to be limited to school children in their physical education classes. This quickly changed when Nintendo came out with the Wii, or when apps started integrating challenges and points to keep users engaged and motivated. Such novelties broke down the barriers of ways that people consumed and participated in fitness.


The fitness industry later followed suit. Smart gym equipment manufacturers started adding games and entertainment to their machines as a form of distraction or pairing their devices with new app offerings; not to mention the explosion of fitness apps in general and content available online. As smartphones are ubiquitous in today’s world, this concept of “anytime, anywhere” fitness activities have changed the habits around when, where, and how long people engage with their favourite fitness content. Exercising is no longer a chore; people can start doing it from the comfort of their homes. Further trends such as connected fitness and a demand for higher personalization are enabling people to better engage with holistic health and wellness, irrespective of their backgrounds, motivations, or preferences[6].

As smartphones are ubiquitous in today’s world, this concept of “anytime, anywhere” fitness activities have changed the habits around when, where, and how long people engage with their favourite fitness content.

“People are increasingly starting to value holistic health and functional training. Rather than just striving for that summer six-pack, we see consumers also paying attention to how daily movement makes you feel better, both physically and emotionally. This is where technology can help, with the rapid growth of personalization in the fitness space and increased popularity of wearable activity trackers, home fitness solutions and of fitness apps” Natalia Karbasova CEO of FitTech Company. VAY’s technology, for instance, enables fitness and wellness companies to meet these consumer demands by incorporating the personalization aspect in a digital and scalable form – users can have that connected fitness experience, unique to their goals and fitness abilities.

People are increasingly starting to value holistic health and functional training. Rather than just striving for that summer six-pack, we see consumers also paying attention to how daily movement makes you feel better, both physically and emotionally. This is where technology can help, with the rapid growth of personalization in the fitness space and increased popularity of wearable activity trackers, home fitness solutions and of fitness apps. - (Natalia Karbasova CEO of FitTech Company)

Clearly, “fitness is like fashion”, it changes with the times and our society, and today, fitness is all about mixing it up and feeling good. Society has started recognizing that it is not a “one type fits all” pursuit and this has led to a focus on healthy mobility combined with physical and mental wellness.


Leave a comment below. We would love to read your experiences about the changes you as a fitness provider have incorporated to create more personalized offerings. Not a fitness company? Then let us know how your fitness routine has changed and the ways that you have incorporated mindfulness into your exercises.



Sources:

[1] https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/fitness-app-market [2] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/09/fitness-apps-gym-health-downloads/ [3] https://www.freeletics.com/en/press/news/freeletics-surveys-americans-to-understand-what-is-in-store-for-the-fitness-industry-post-covid-19/ [4] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fitness-trends#78.-Virtual-fitness [5] https://www.perfectgym.com/en/blog/business/fitness-industry-trends-2021 [6] https://www.clubindustry.com/press-releases/breaking-down-barriers-virtuagym-co-founder-emphasises-vital-role-fitness-technology

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