With this year already whizzing by, I thought it would be interesting to write about a few of the developments I have seen in the world of fitness that have taken place over the last several years. I am not an influencer or “thought leader” in the health & wellness space, but I do my best to stay up to date with various trends, fads, and actual impactful changes. Here are four trends I believe are here to stay:
1) TECH & TOUCH: Utilizing our smart phones for positive personalized human interaction rather than downloading the newest cookie-cutter app.
Since society began to switch from using desktops to iPhones, numerous people and companies raced to develop the latest, greatest app for fitness, nutrition, mental health, telemedicine, and tracking various health biomarkers. I should know because I worked for a startup company in Singapore doing exactly this! Overall very few apps succeeded and many failed due to user retention and a lack of a customer base.
The truth is it is extremely challenging to create “addiction” to an app, hence the reason you see so many people return to the major social media outlets—FB, IG, YT, Tik Tok, etc. Since the start of the Covid-19 Pandemic we witnessed a major shift in work and “life” to the online world, fitness included.
I believe online coaching is here to stay for the very reason that people still crave a human “touch” when it comes to health, with more and more people seeking out coaches, counselors, nutritionists, trainers, and other health professionals in place of a random app for help.
2) THE HYBRID ATHLETE: Blending of different fitness modalities.
As humans we crave comfort, even within the realm of something inherently uncomfortable like exercise. Over the last decade we have seen increased popularity of sports and competitions that combine multiple elements of fitness: Cross Fit, Obstacle Racing, Hyrox, Dekafit, Parkour, Ninja Warrior, and more. These new fitness challenges are here to stay as long as people seek them out, and I believe they will continue to increase in demand–especially for adults and older athletes.
Not only do these competitions demand training outside your comfort zone, but also they are arguably healthier for the body as there are different stimuli required to compete and do well. Endurance, strength, body awareness, a strong grip, mobility, flexibility–all of this is important but rarely do we train in all these ways as we flock towards what we enjoy the most. I am not saying a “pure” activity such as running, weight lifting, or yoga is bad! Obviously anything is superior to nothing at all. But recognizing the health and longevity benefits of challenging your body in different ways is what makes these newer competitions exciting and an integral part of the fitness world.
3) Complete Lifestyle Commercialization of Fitness & Sport.
With billions of people on social media, it is no surprise that we will continue to see a unification of fitness and marketing of products. At the end of the day the world of fitness is a business like any other, and people in this space will need to make a living through their events, coaching, apparel, and products. However I foresee the way in which this is done to evolve, as people are numb to the copious amount of direct advertising they experience each and every day.
Sports nutrition companies, wearable trackers, athletic apparel, shoe companies, and most fitness businesses will continue to seek out and partner with individuals who best represent their products. This partnership (usually financial or sponsored) will conduct the vast majority of marketing and sales for years to come, as consumers want to “be like Mike” or “look like Mary” and see what he or she wears, uses, buys, and tries to do the same.
4) BEFORE BIOHACKING….?
The notions that we can ‘reverse our biological age’ and ‘push the boundaries of human longevity’ are extremely popular. There are been several prominent doctors, coaches, and online influencers who have cultivated massive followings they are able to push their products and ideas on.
I remain skeptical yet cautiously optimistic in this area of health & fitness. Despite some clear marketing ploys, there are some fitness wearables and other tracking devices that seem to provide semi-reliable data on blood, sweat, sleep, calories, and more. However this whole area remains the “cherry on top” of health. It is very clear that most people do NOT need to get wrapped up in the biohacking world without addressing the basics of movement, nutrition, and recovery. Why should someone shell out hundreds of dollars on nootropics, wearables, and special coffee or superfood blends when it is clear they do not workout regularly nor do they meet the basic nutrition requirements their body expects of them? Just my two cents.