Another trip around the sun and as much as things change the more they stay the same. But what a year it has been what with Brexit and Trump, each telling us that, for better or for worse, people are no longer willing to be bossed around by the established system. HealthGauge has been out there in the field talking to the gym goers, entrepreneurs, trainers and scientists all year long and core to many of the trends we are observing is a realisation that our modern, highly technology focused lives, whilst in some ways more convenient, do also come at the cost of our mental and physical wellbeing. 2017 could see a further “rage against the machine” as more of us try to reclaim what being human is meant to be about.
1. Lifestyle Fitness
Lifestyle fitness is a mega-trend that continues to reshape western society. Health and fitness is no longer isolated to single, purpose specific, products, places and events, but rather it touches every part of our lives:
1.1 Fit is the new cool – Whilst fitness wear of the past featured scruffy looking tracksuits that came off in the changing room and stayed off, modern fitness wear continues to make waves in the world of fashion. Pushing in two directions, fitness related items such as yoga pants and trainers have become accepted as a key feature of modern fashion, with women’s trainers even outselling high heels. Whilst at the high-end of fashion there are a growing number of designers joining the likes of Yohji Yamamoto and Kanye West in creating designs with inspiration rooted in sportswear. The further expansion and integration of activewear into modern fashion is a dead cert.
1.2 Gyms are the new nightclub – Putting aside the superficial similarities of dreadful European house music, women covered in make-up and guys posing for one-another in vests, gyms have started to usurp the nightclub in terms of their social relevance. Instagram, the loathsome window into the souls of the vacuous and self-obsessed, is chockablock with the selfies of gym rats, whereas it’s been a decade since anything associated with clubbing has been seen in a positive light. Gyms and fitness groups are the places that people go not just to get fit but to socialise with friends, make new ones and then tell the world about it. 2017 could see new developments in this space as owners and hosts realise the potential value in the growing cultural significance of these environments.
1.3 Fitness vacations – The idea of working out whilst on holiday still sounds as mad as a box of frogs but the concept is catching on. Again, a shift in what is considered cool may be playing a part. Ibiza, once the spiritual home of Balearic house music and the place to be up until circa 2000, has along with the music lost its cool. For those past spewing up a litre of vodka over the glittery shoes of Geordie girls at Lineker’s Bar, a holiday that actually makes feel good does have growing appeal.
1. 4 Fit for life – One major shift between generations is an improved awareness of health. We are now inundated with more accurate health information and advice than ever. The false information and “wives tales” that our parents lived by, comfortable in the certainty of “getting old gracefully”, just doesn’t scan with generation x. Sure there are more people than not who choose to ignore this information, but many are taking it on board and making lifelong commitments to live as long and strong as is currently humanly possible.
2. Plant sources
The scourge of the veganazi is an annoyance that we must endure for the time-being, but in spite of this fad, which is certain to die down in due course, the appeal of plant source foods looks certain to grow across the board. Many of us are embracing the endless benefits of plant-based foods as a lower cost, environmentally sustainable and animal-friendly source of quality nutrition. We have already seen coconuts sweep across the food market, but the next big hitter is looking to be plant waters as they offer a neutral taste that works both on and off the field with the added natural benefits extra antioxidants and natural minerals.
3. Technology takes a back seat
The fitness world loves to sell us loads of useless garbage that it convinces us we need in order to stay healthy. The truth is that if you want to know whether or not you’ve been eating too much or working out too little, all you need is to stand naked in front of a mirror. Sure we loved the Nike+ Fuelband when it came out but the world has changed and people now want a more discrete form of background health monitoring. This can been seen in the new designs of the Jawbone and Misfit shine which are no longer garish hunks of plastic with flashing lights but rather elegant, solid state accessories. The use of the data we gather is also finding a better function. There is limited value in monitoring yourself on a day to day basis whilst trying to achieve some goal you don’t truly care all that much about. The true value in this data lies is the the long term where it can be used to inform our doctors and enable for medicine to become more preventive and less fatalist. It comes as no wonder that health insurance companies such as Prudential have been keen to issue Apple Watches for free in return for cheaper health insurance.
4. Back to basics fitness
As with technology, many of us have become wise to the gimmick. That ab workout station you bought after watching a 20 minute infomercial that included a full set of Tupperware no longer seems like the wisest purchase after you’ve tripped over it for the hundredth time, despite not even as much as a glimpse of them abs you were promised. We really don’t need all this stuff in order to get fit and people are returning to tried and tested modes of fitness. Classic weight lifting, boot camps and boxing right through to parkour are all booming at the moment because fitness needs to be easily accessible and easy to integrate into our lives without involving winches and pulleys. We expect to see more functional fitness using bodyweight or partner exercises as well as re-functioning our surrounding into a workout environment.
5. People power
Isolation in fitness is to a larger degree seen as an outdated way to workout. This is analogous with how more people are choosing to workout together more often. Group fitness is as strong as ever due to the lifestyle fitness trend and this is also being aided by new social fitness platforms that enable people to break into and share fitness more easily without the restrictions of memberships that separate us. In addition, we are seeing more use of crowd funding to bring new products and services to market.
“Push yourself to the max” and other slogans like it have been thrown around for years, but the reality of pushing yourself to the max “24/7” is that you will inevitably become injured and therefore no longer to be able to walk right let alone push anything to any max. Folks are cottoning on and learning that recovery is an equally important aspect of your fitness game as the work you put in. Foam rolling is a common site in gyms all over and we expect to see further developments in this space in addition to what we are already seeing with the use of electro-stimulation to control and relax muscles after intensive workout