Everybody benefits from being active, no matter the stage in their lives. However, how and why we exercise has changed throughout the year. From the lycra-filled high-energy exercise tapes in the 80s to inspiring yoga channels and viral TikTok fitness trends, different generations have found various ways to find motivations to move. Here are some of the channels and types of exercise that may appeal to each generation, from older baby boomers and gen Xers to generation Alpha entering their teenage years.
Gen Xers: The Main Motivator Is Improving Fitness (Dominant Years 1965-1980)
Generation X, and in a lesser measure, baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), were at the forefront of the idea that exercise belongs in everybody’s routine and could be incorporated into a busy lifestyle. With a strong, lean body representing the height of fashion and fitness instructors, such as Richard Simmons or Jane Fonda, becoming household names, exercising became perceived as fun as much as necessary.
Fitness for baby boomers and Gen Xers escaped from the gym and organized fitness classes to make their way to living rooms across the country, allowing participants to work out when and wherever they wanted.
How Has Generation X Influenced the Industry?
Gen X fully embraced the fun aspect of exercising. New fitness trends are more iconic than the high-energy dance and spinning classes rhythmed by blasting pop music and cheerful instructors of the 80s and 90s. X gen gym often offers classes and activities that are entertaining and engaging, involving fun choreographies, or expanding to activities such as rock climbing and martial arts-inspired fitness classes.
What Are Gen X Priorities for Gyms?
Most members of Generation X want fitness to be as fun as it is effective. They are result-oriented and enjoy challenging workouts and classes, but they want these activities to remain engaging, varied, and entertaining. Gen Xers enjoy classes, which are the perfect occasion for socializing and comparing their performance with others. Both men and women appreciate a set-up that allows them to integrate fitness as part of a more fulfilling lifestyle rather than seeking exercise to get fit and healthy.
Marketing Fitness Towards Gen-Xers
Generation X members often lead a busy lifestyle. They are often at the peak of their career and occupying leadership positions that can be consuming and stressful. In addition, they may have a demanding family life, caring for their children and aging parents. Therefore, fitness classes should be effective but also provide an outlet. Here are some ways to create an X-Gen gym that appeals to this influential generation:
- Fun activities to help relieve stress: fitness classes for generation X should help participants relax and unwind while providing measurable results so they do not feel like they are wasting precious time. Activities can include martial arts, Pilates, yoga, Zumba, spinning, rock climbing, etc.
- Classes allow them: interact and create social bonds outside of work while promoting a supportive environment and positive competition
- Associated services: nutrition, personal training, informative sessions, etc., allow gen X to feel more informed about their choices and in charge of their fitness program as part of their lifestyle choices.
Millennials: Most Health-Conscious Generation (Dominant Years 1981-1996)
The Millennial generation came of age when the impact of the obesity epidemic, particularly among younger people, became fully known. They practice a delicate balancing act of staying fit (with sayings such as “strong is the new skinny”) while being surrounded by video games, cell phones, and sedentary activities.
Millennial fitness statistics show that they integrate fitness into their wellness journey. Rather than intensive cardio training and draconian diet regimens, fitness Millennials “eat right” while incorporating fast and effective workouts into their busy schedule. The social aspect of exercising is also extremely important, with fitness groups flourishing online and in community gyms like CrossFit.
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How Have the Millennials Influenced the Industry?
Millennials’ health and wellness play a crucial role in their lifestyle choices and how they allocate their time. Having come of age at a time when social media gained importance while at the same time isolating individuals, Millennials rely on the support of like-minded communities to encourage, motivate, and guide them in their fitness journey.
Millennial fitness is all about being part of something bigger, intertwining social interaction and training with people with common goals that can support them inside and outside the gym. Millennial fitness influencers have created communities that expand outside training videos to branch into lifestyle tips, such as nutrition or business bits of advice, creating tight-knit groups of followers.
What Are Millennials’ Priorities for Gyms?
For a generation used to personalizing their drinks at the coffee store, Millennial fitness trends are all about that personal touch. They want to feel special while being part of a bigger group and see their contribution to the overall organization. Interactive systems, such as leaderboards and point-based rewards, can be big motivators. They also lead a busy lifestyle and prefer quick and effective workouts like HIITs and pay-as-you-go rather than one-fits-all membership systems.
Marketing Fitness Towards Millennials
Millennials are not shy about spending the big bucks if it can give them access to the experience they want. So, how much do Millennials spend on fitness? Millennials spend approximately $7 billion annually on gym memberships. However, they also have high expectations and do not hesitate to switch if their current gym is unsatisfactory. Here is how to create the perfect Millennial community fitness center to attract and retain members.
- Set up the perfect membership package: Millennials believe that gym memberships are too expensive. They do not want to spend money on services they do not use. Instead of global memberships, create customizable and flexible plans even if clients may end up paying.
- Create a specialized, high-end studio: Millennials are not fans of big box experiences. They prefer boutique studios targeting specialized workouts, such as barre, team building, or boxing, even if they may need several gym memberships for all their fitness needs.
- Offer quick, efficient workouts: Millennials often complain about not having enough time to fit a workout into their busy routines. They are likelier to join regular short classes under one hour than longer workouts. They want results quickly, with varied, targeted, sweaty sessions they can integrate into their lives easily.
- Make technology a significant part of your business plan: Millennials are tech-savvy and always connected. They take instant and easy communication for granted. Offer a wide range of connected tools, such as apps with exercises they can do from home, personalized pieces of advice, direct messaging their coach, integrating portable devices such as Fitbit, and creating an easy check-in and sign-up system.
Generation Z: The Ultimate Wellness Consumer (Dominant Years 1997-2012)
Gen Z fitness is having a moment: as the oldest members of this generation are graduating college, attracting them could be a make-or-break moment for gyms. Although they retain some similarities with Gen Y, such as viewing fitness as part of an overall lifestyle rather than fulfilling a specific purpose, there are also some differences. Instead of aiming for a particular shape (i.e., “fit”), Gen Y members are more body positive and acceptant. They celebrate diversity and integrate fitness into their physical and mental wellness journey.
How May Gen Z Influence the Future of the Industry?
While Millennials and Gen X physical fitness was at the core of their motivation to join a gym, Generation Z has a significantly more holistic approach. Although they still consider physical health essential, it is more likely to be part of a more balanced approach, with key concepts such as “feeling good” or “feeling confident” rather than looking a certain way.
Stress management and lifestyle balance are also perceived as extremely important. For example, Gen Z fitness influencers often include mental exercises such as meditation as part of their workout practices.
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What Does Gen Z Want?
Generation Z has never known a world where information was not instantly accessible via the Internet and where brands and customers were not connected at any moment. Therefore, they are extremely technologically advanced and, despite their youth, not gullible. Before you try to sell them a product or a service, they are more likely than previous generations to check in depth about the verifiability of your claims.
They will not hesitate to call you publicly if you fail. It is also not surprising that Gen Z fitness trends are all about accessibility and connection. In addition, the key to approaching Gen Z and fitness is to understand that, to them, working out is part of the bigger picture of a balanced lifestyle.
- Fitness as a lifestyle: Gen Z is passionate about making conscious choices and wants every product and service they adopt to be part of this narrative. When marketing your brand to the younger crowd, ensure that you have a backstory and mission in line with the value you promote and that your product contributes to something bigger than a sale, like an environment, social values, etc.
- Focusing on mental health: Gen Z-ers have been exposed to harsh realities since their childhoods, such as political, sociological, environmental, and economic issues. Thanks to the continuous stream of information, they are very protective of their mental health. They see fitness as an emotional outlet, and a means to build resilience and fortitude and protect themselves against stress and anxiety.
- Clean eating on demand: Members of Generation Z typically live an on-the-go lifestyle, especially in urban settings. They rarely have time to cook at home or go grocery shopping. However, this fast-paced environment does not mean they are willing to bypass healthy eating habits. In recent years, meal delivery services have exploded along with on-demand trainers who make themselves available whenever their clients have free time.
- Using fitness to overcome challenges: Generation Z often feels powerless when confronted with the many difficulties they face in their personal and professional lives following global events such as the pandemic, the looming economic downturn, and social inequity. However, they see fitness as a means to control their stress and anxiety and eventually overcome these issues.
- Fitness is about tech and connectivity: Gen Z takes the ability to measure anything and access any service on their smartphone for granted. An excellent app that allows them to keep track of their health, help them make better decisions in real-time, and connect with their trainer and the rest of the community is essential for this generation active.
Marketing Fitness Towards Generation Z
Generation Z currently represents just over one-quarter of gym users. However, as they get older and their financial power increases, their approval will likely determine the success of your gym. Therefore, it is essential to position yourself to entice these customers as early as possible.
Gen Z lives and breathes through social media. They have little time and a short attention span and do not hesitate to change gyms if they are not immediately satisfied with your offer. Therefore, to successfully market your gym to the younger generation, it is essential to offer an experience that is easy to consume and flexible enough to provide little constraints on the user. Here are some ways you can attract Generation Z fitness enthusiasts:
- Create an Insta-worthy environment: Generation Z is eager to share their experiences and accomplishments on social media, making them natural brand ambassadors. However, they also expect a stylish and comfortable facility where they do not mind being seen as well as a functional workout environment.
- Social media: Make it easy for students to share their workouts on social media and encourage other members of the team (such as instructors) to interact on social media as well. Having a dedicated hashtag or accessible sharing functions like a QR code can also help with engagement.
- An excellent app: Where customers can get instant access to on-demand workouts, sign in and check in for classes, communicate with teachers and other students, keep track of their success, etc., is non-negotiable. It is your primary means of interaction with this generation, and its ease of use and functionalities could determine whether your Gen Z users remain faithful to the brand or not.
- Gen Z has limited time and little money. It may be a good idea to include an affordable, flexible, on-demand video membership option.
Generation Alpha: Increasing Self-Care (Born in or After 2010)
Although children born in or after 2010 have limited buying power due to their age, they nevertheless have the potential to become future customers. Millennial parents are already sensitized to the importance of leading a healthy and active lifestyle despite the sirens of screen time and sedentary activities. Therefore, if you want to encourage parents and children to think of spending some time at the gym as a fun activity they should include in their routine to stay healthy, it is a good idea to create classes geared towards the younger crowds.
Most children naturally love to play and be active, especially in an urban environment where they may not have as much room to burn energy. Therefore, it is unsurprising that indoor play spaces, trampoline parks, and indoor adventure centers have become increasingly popular. Fun classes like kids obstacle course fitness classes as a complement or alternative to competitive sports can contribute to putting children on the road to an active and healthy lifestyle.
Besides physical health, these active classes and activities offer countless benefits. They can help children develop qualities such as resilience, help them build social skills outside of a school environment, encourage teamwork, and how to solve problems by thinking outside of the box. Children can also use these fun challenges to learn to handle disappointments and the rewards of hard work. They can also benefit children’s mental health, providing an outlet to overcome anxiety and stress while building self-confidence, which is key to success later in life.
Different generations often have different views on how and why they should incorporate fitness into their lifestyle. Generation X may consider spending some time at the gym as an excellent way to improve their overall health while staying social. In contrast, Millennials consider that it is a component of a healthy routine. Meanwhile, younger individuals of Generation Z adopt a more holistic approach to exercise as a means to improve their overall well-being, both mental and physical. However, all agree that exercising is essential to their health with many far-reaching benefits.
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