By Patrick Craig, Special FBA Contributor

The last three years since the COVID disaster have seen some amazing, radical changes in the fitness industry. Club owners, rather than folding under the significant weight of club shutdowns and health mandates, responded by finding new and better ways to present their clubs and utterly change the industry.

Those of us who are neck deep in this industry have watched fitness clubs evolve from the old Neanderthal concept of “No Pain, No Gain” to what is definitely a revolution: an industry seeking new ideas and practices and boldly going where fitness has never gone before.

The list of trends for 2024 reads like something out of a science fiction novel or a handbook for building a futuristic community—some innovations are, to say the least, disturbing, but most of them fit right into a society that has consumed and assimilated technology in a way wholly concordant with the times we live in.

Holistic Health Moves to the Forefront

As I said above, the days of lifting weights and rowing to China are behind us. In the coming year, we will see a growing recognition of the undividable connection between mental and physical health. This will lead to an industry-wide move toward wide-ranging approaches to wellness. Fitness clubs will become wellness centers where members can not only concentrate on physical well-being, but will also get involved in stress management, counseling, and mindfulness.

What’s mindfulness you ask? It’s one of the new fitness buzzwords for sure, but it actually has a practical application. To live mindfully is to live in the moment and stay focused on living in the present, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future. To be mindful is to observe and label thoughts, feelings, sensations in the body objectively. Mindfulness can, therefore, be a tool to avoid self-criticism and judgment while identifying and managing difficult emotions. Whew!

All the esoteric hodgepodge of words aside, it simply means to stay focused and in the room. By applying mindfulness techniques, individuals can address their emotional and psychological health. Couple this with staying in shape physically and members move toward a complete health expression.

Medical Fitness

I’ve talked about this before, but we should probably take another look. The fitness industry is moving swiftly toward a solid collaboration with healthcare providers and technology to provide the ability to closely monitor physical activity and health metrics like heart rate, blood pressure, sleep quality, etc. Combined with online access to real healthcare professionals, your members can identify potential health issues early on and take steps to short circuit them.

When I did an internet search for online wellness centers, I came up with pages of references: 13 Best Online therapy, Remote Distance Wellness Center, Online Health and Wellness Programs, etc. The progressive fitness centers are partnering with these centers and offering full programs, from exercise to medical referrals. When the focus is on preventative care and rehabilitation, fitness becomes a fundamental component of overall health.

Experiential & Community Fitness

The fitness industry is evolving into an experience industry, with a focus on creating memorable, out-of-the box life experiences. Forest bathing (taking long walks in the woods), outdoor, camp-style workouts, group fitness outings, planned community events—these all contribute to social engagement and supportive environments, where individuals can share milestones, join others on the same fitness journey, and motivate each other.

We talked about this in my last article, Fitness as Community, and interestingly enough, the scare factor prevalent in 2020-2021, (you remember, the thing that kept fitness buffs at home and leery of social interaction,) seems to have come full circle. Fitness aficionados find that the social aspect of fitness has become a key motivator. It’s really true that what goes around comes around.

Wellness Travel

Along with fitness community has come a new interest in traveling to picturesque, relaxing environments seeking fitness and relaxation. It’s actually not new. Back in the day, particularly in Europe, people traveled across the continent and event to remote and exotic destinations seeking health experiences such as mineral baths and challenging physical workouts. Today, people seek spa treatments, nutritional programs, and fitness activities while exploring unknown places. Wellness tourism is definitely on the rise in 2024.

Retail Shops

Shopping as a sport will reach new highs in 2024. Sportswear and athleisure brands are launching part-retail store, part-fitness studio sites. These first appeared in the U. K where Gymshark has a team of coaches working at its store on Regent Street, Under Amour’s latest UK shop has a performance center for shoppers where you can find next-level coaching and physiological assessments, and Alo Yoga will set up various store/yoga studios.

To avoid being left behind by this new trend, Nike will debut in a US-based boutique fitness space that will sell Nike gear.

Hybrid Gyms Keep on Coming

We’ve been touting this concept for at least three years—traditional fitness facilities that offer virtual fitness classes. This gives your members the flexibility to choose between in-person workouts and online sessions. Combined with the fresh surge in home workout facilities, a hybrid gym can offer training sessions by the leading influencers in the business, many of whom shop their videos and make partnership deals with local facilities.

Of course, you need a great Club Management Software, but there are dozens of top-flight software packages on the market now and they seem to add new features every week. Zoom sessions, live stream, pre-recorded workouts, all customized for the member who can’t make it downtown every night, but wants to stay disciplined in their fitness regimen.

So, it looks like 2024 is going to be jam-packed with exciting new ideas and innovations, all of which will send the fitness industry in an exciting new direction. Stay tune next month for more updates on the latest trends in fitness.

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Patrick Craig has worked in the Marketing Industry for the past twenty years. He is a published author and has written extensively about the fitness industry, particularly the gym software aspect of it. He has been with Money Movers, Inc. for the last six years where he serves as the Marketing and Operations Manager, web designer and coder, and maintains the custom websites Money Movers, Inc. develops for their Online Business Manager gym software clients.

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