Five Trends in Fitness

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Like the cross-section of North American society, active people showcase quite a broad range of diversity in the way they engage in active pursuits. For the last decade, we’ve identified insights about active people and their participation in a variety of outdoor and enthusiast pursuits.  More recently, with Dispatch’s deeper foray into big data on the main active lifestyle categories, we’ve uncovered some trends we think are worth batting an eye to. 


1.  The community mentality drives active participation 
Through our work with several women’s sport programs for K2, Liv Cycling and Bell Helmets, we’ve seen these active women’s programs thrive because of the group activations.  Group training is exploding not just in the budding boutique studio and Crossfit world, but in large health club chains that are offering a host of new trendy group fitness classes. The American College of Sports Medicine named it as its 6th hottest worldwide fitness trend for 2017 – a huge Y-Y increase. 

2. Beyond the adrenaline fix, active people are like minded
Through insights we’ve gathered about North American winter enthusiasts compared to research we’ve culled through Global Web Index about active males, there are common threads among these active groups. When profiling active males age 24-54 who exercise at least 2-3 times per week, GWI revealed that their top interests are music, film, and food. These exact interests, in that order were the same for North American skiers with an average HHI of >$200,000. 

3. Costs of being active  
Choose your addiction, then pay up. The cost of active pursuits of course varies, and thankfully people can choose depending on their interests and financial constraints. Health clubs are a great barometer for cost and participation and we found a huge variance in membership costs and growth last year. According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association 2016 Health Club Consumer Report, the number of individuals joining budget fitness clubs (>$25/month) has skyrocketed by 69% over two years. Boutiques and fitness studios that are often exponentially more expensive have shown a 70% increase over a three-year period. People are paying at all ends of the health club spectrum. 

4. Being active on the road
Active people want to workout when they travel, and the most diligent also watch what they eat. Through researching winter enthusiasts, we found that these vacationing skiers’ attitudes trend towards wanting unique, adventurous experiences. These active skiers care about the full day’s events and want to stand apart. 

Since hotel gyms, by and large, aren't great, age 25-34 active travelers will go beyond the lobby to find a different fitness fix. This creates a great opportunity for more major health club chains with multiple locations to cater to traveling members. Travelers can now use a variety of apps to tap into a great class in a new location and reserve their spot. Brands like Soul Cycle, Reebok, FitBit and New Balance are partnering with resorts to appeal to active travelers, offering exposure to their products or creating unique experiences at the resorts. 

5. Wearables and fitness tech
Wearables are the top buzzworthy trend in fitness realized through media attention, social conversations, celebrity athlete endorsement, and returning as the #1 trend in the ACSM’s fitness trend forecast.  One reason is that this technology is broadly available from niche consumer technology brands like FitBit and Garmin, to America’s leading consumer tech company, Apple (iWatches). 

But what’s the big coup with all of these devices? Data. Mountains of it.  Enthusiasts, once they get their hands on this data, can refine their training and performance. Non-enthusiasts may be inspired to make simple changes to their active routines or choose to up their game to new levels. 

These findings show that it's easier and more inclusive to be active and that there are opportunities for brands to turn active events into lifestyle events. Technology is emerging to create an innovation layer on many active pursuits and we’ll see what the future holds.

Eric Doyne

Dispatch Communications, Inc.