This article was brought to you by Power Plate
Over the last few years, our industry has seen major changes, with many new or emerging fitness trends coming to light.
Now, consumer behaviours are shaping the way we ‘do fitness’ and once again our industry needs to be ready for change.
According to a 2023 cross-sectional survey in Southern Europe by AIMS Public Health; five national surveys were conducted across Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus with varying results.
It is not necessarily a one size fits all scenario with Circuit training, Pilates and core training proving to be popular mostly in Greece and Cyprus and somewhat popular in Spain and Portugal but not in Italy. Whereas functional fitness, body weight training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training with free weights and outdoor activities are popular trends in all of the selected Southern European countries.
In Southern Europe; personal training, licensure for fitness professionals, exercise is medicine, employing certified fitness professionals, functional fitness training, small group training, high-intensity interval training, fitness programs for older adults, post-rehabilitation classes and body weight training, were all identified as the top 10 trends for 2023.
Breaking this down, fitness professionals deemed the following to be the top three concerns across Southern Europe Fitness landscape;
EXERCISE IS MEDICINE: BIOHACKING
In the countries stated above, specific health-related diseases are on the rise, creating significant concerns for the public health status with several lifestyle-related health issues being a common occurrence; sedentarism, unhealthy weight, glucose intolerance, raised blood pressure and impaired blood lipid profile significantly impacting the masses in Southern Europe.
An increase in awareness of these health related concerns has led to an explosion of Biohacking - described by Gymdesk as “Do it yourself biology” it involves making incremental changes through diet, exercise, lifestyle, and supplementation to improve health, well-being, and cognitive performance.
Increased popularity of devices such as continuous blood glucose monitors, fitness wearables, and implanted sensors are bringing biohacking to the fore. This growing trend to include Combination Therapy into our daily routines (Whole Body Vibration, Cryo, Heat, Red Light Therapies and Intermittent Fasting) has been coined the high-performance lifestyle (HPL) as it aims to optimise our existence.
Steve Wright, VP Performance Health Systems, EME says “As we gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of biohacking technologies in relation to metabolic health, body composition, bone density, balance, flexibility, strength and having a pain free existence, we start to see a shift in goals in relation to healthy longevity.”
According to a recent article by Fitt Insider - preventative interventions with high-end amenities mean longevity clinics are blurring the lines between wellness and healthcare; A global network of “healthspan clinics” opening in Zürich, longevity-focused firm Apollo Health Ventures is also developing its own clinics in UK, Germany and Holland and The Longevity Suite is opening “biohacking & anti-age clinics” across Italy, with plans to enter Portugal and the Middle East.
In Leeds, UK, Performance Health Systems (PHS) partner DexaStrong has opened a state of the art longevity clinic providing high-end private services specialising in bone and muscle health including;
- DEXA Bone Density Scanning
- Body composition scanning for muscle and fat composit
- Bone-loading therapy
- Individual consultations (Face to face and remote) with our medical experts (Including menopause and bone and muscle health and sarcopenia)
With the longevity market projected to reach $44bn by 2030 (Allied Market Research) the quest to slow ageing is clearly big business.
EDUCATION: CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINERS
With personal training, licensure for fitness professionals and employing certified fitness professionals highlighted as one of the top trends, it is clear that the industry is under regulated.
According to NASM - There are currently no national or state licensing requirements for working as a personal trainer like there are for doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, physical therapists, and athletic trainers. With no licensing requirements, anyone can claim to be a fitness professional and offer personal training services.
So what can we do to pave the way for more certified fitness trainers, with clear credentials?
At a recent conference in London, UK Jenny Patrickson, MD of Active IQ discussed the need to constantly update the training curriculum to successfully support and deliver more diversified offerings and said “As an awarding organisation, we're constantly pushing boundaries, equipping people with the tools they need to thrive in the dynamic world of fitness and leisure. It's all about empowering individuals and making a lasting impact."
Steve Wright, continues “By utilising industry expertise outside of our business, we hope to bring new skills and renewed enthusiasm into the health, fitness and wellness sector. Developing market specific education for our partners across Europe is our ambition - we believe this will give them the tools they need to expand their businesses and be successful in new markets.
PROGRAMMING: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
This same study by AIMS Public Health also identified;
- 5 trends relating to fitness activities (outdoor activities, high-intensity interval training, functional fitness training, strength training with free weights and bodyweight training),
- 4 trends related to fitness modalities (personal training, small group training, health/wellness coaching and group training)
- 3 trends related to programs oriented to specific populations (exercise for weight loss, fitness programs for older adults and children and exercise)
- 3 trends related to health (post-rehabilitation classes, exercise is medicine and lifestyle medicine)
Such findings may support customers to engage in positive exercise experiences while creating impactful prospects for exercise professionals, shaping new and innovative business opportunities for gym operators in the health and fitness industry.
Some trends relating to fitness activities were popular in specific countries, such as circuit training (Greece and Cyprus), core training (Spain and Greece) and Pilates (Portugal, Greece and Cyprus) - giving us a good steer on how we can adapt our product and service positioning for these specific audiences.
Steve Wright says “It’s important to recognise that within every region, there are different trends, preferences and cultures that we as a global business need to be aware of. What works in one country may not be so popular in another and therefore it is crucial that we listen to our partners, and support them with whatever their customers are asking for.”