Trends in the past decade continue to show consistent growth in all areas of the fitness industry, from member acquisition and retention to those actively engaged in programming and/or seeking the guidance of certified fitness professionals. In large part, this consistency is due to the massive turn-around in the public’s perception of health and wellness.
Today, engaging in regular physical activity, eating wholesome, nutritious meals, and sleeping for the recommended eight hours per day is the popular choice among Americans aged 25 to 40. We see that in increasing membership numbers, group fitness attendance and interest in individualized fitness programming. However, many programming options cater to the generally healthy clientele, overlooking a largely underserved market: special populations.
For a better part of the last century, we were told that gaining weight, losing muscle strength/bone density, developing non-communicable diseases and experiencing diminished energy levels were simply part of the natural aging process. However, over the years, we have realized that inactivity — not aging — was the culprit.
Having staff members on hand with the appropriate expertise in managing clientele with chronic diseases or those in need of post rehabilitation (whether cardiac, occupational or physical) will help you tap into a new and expanding demographic. Thanks to the aging of the Baby Boomers, there is a new generation of seniors who are living longer, more active lives and are in need of specialized programming.
In the past 30 years, obesity rates have doubled among children and quadrupled among adolescents. Yet the amount of physical activity in schools continues to decrease. For this reason, more and more parents are turning to their local health and wellness facilities for age-appropriate exercise programs that instill the value of physical activity in a safe and fun environment.
By offering youth specific programming to school-aged children and teenagers, we can help foster a culture for change and positively impact the future health of our nation.
As fitness professionals, we have a professional responsibility to help our clients achieve optimal wellness. As leaders in health and wellness, we have a social responsibility to improve the health of our nation through grassroots efforts in our own communities. We must provide an environment that is supportive, informative and progressive while offering safe and effective programming to fit the ever-evolving needs of the public.