Plato, Peloton and Prescriptions – Frank Ancharski breaks down how Exercise is Medicine in health clubs and at home.
“Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”
Who once said this prophetic quote? Was it Dr. Ken Cooper, the father of aerobics? Was it Billy Blanks, Denise Austin or a Spartan/Tough Mudder competitor? Not even close, it was Plato.
It was an ancient B.C. philosopher who spearheaded the thought of exercise’s importance in our lives. Such importance has been advanced by others mentioned above. And yet still other fitness industry, governmental and academician leaders over the decades contributed to the importance of exercise.
Even the Surgeon General proclaimed physical activity’s relevance in our daily lexicon of health. In fact, the Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health released in 1996, commissioned in 1994 by Donna Shalala, then Secretary of Health and Human Services was to lead our industry to the promise land by catalyzing a new physical activity and fitness movement. Perhaps even help to increase the higher percentage of the population exercising in our clubs.
It was the first landmark report by the Surgeon General on par with the 1964 report about a major risk factor to health, smoking. The effect of that report, pre cable TV and social media, took a good 30 years before smoking behavior changed significantly for the public and the nation. Then in October of 2014, Harvard Health Publishing, Trusted Advice for a Healthier Life, proclaimed in a headline “Exercise is still the best medicine.”
So, since Exercise is Medicine (EIM) is very much alive and well, then how is it that EIM went from No. 6 on the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM’s) top ten list in 2020 and now to No. 7 in 2021? Can one say Peloton, who is now the proud owner of long-time exercise equipment manufacturer Precor? Yes, we can. More specifically, Peloton, a virtual training trend, is just ahead of EIM on the 2021 list at No. 6. Virtual training’s twin, online training is now ranked No. 1. How great – that is just what we needed in the middle of a pandemic, not just No. 1 but two trend shifts that makes our operational heads spin like a Johnny G bike.
There are many arguments about the long-term staying power of both the No. 1 and the No. 6 trends after the pandemic. In small circles before the pandemic, many fitness professionals knew such trends were on their way, but when, was the real question?
I can hear all of those who want to dimmish these trends as fads. People want and need the socialization, I agree. People are getting Zoom fatigue and do not want to exercise in front of another screen, I agree. The experience is not the same as feeling the energy of people and music live, and in-person. The Peloton bike and treadmills will become an expensive clothes hanger eventually, perhaps.
However, the club operators who embrace both online and virtual offerings and monetize those will shine through this dark period in our history. The live streaming of club instructors for your club’s classes in between work Zoom calls or personal trainers using their own home to train members and non-members alike are opportunities. People want what they want, when they want it. If we make it easy to use our services when they cannot make it into our clubs for any reason, they will be customers for life.
So, between Peloton and prescriptions, let’s give a prescription for the medicine we call exercise, both in club and at home, or even while on vacation. And to members and non-members alike, in our markets, and even those out of our market, virtually. I am sure Plato would agree.