The advocacy for movement and physical activity has never been more important, with one in four people in the UK doing fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a week. Is the fitness industry and its offer in need of a big evolution and new identity to help those most in need?
Increasingly we are seeing a shift in the type of digital workouts our clients want to create; with a softer, gentler, more holistic approach. This, to me, is an encouraging and positive change. The UK Government’s guideline of 150 minutes of rigorous activity a week is so far away from some people’s real-life experiences that this goal is simply unachievable and can set people up to fail before they’ve started. The fitness sector should have the ability to ‘meet’ people where they ‘are’ and it’s essential to appreciate that all activity, however small, has value and that some activity is better than none.
Online fitness resources should be made available and fully accessible to people who may have a health condition or have mobility issues, meaning they can take part in the exercises, even if they’re seated or a wheelchair user.
Increasingly, we have found our clients are looking for online fitness workout videos to be shorter and easier for their users to digest and to dip in and out of, as well as being lower in intensity, accessible with subtitles, and allowing users to slowly build stamina and confidence. Additionally, the fitness instructors we put forward are now more varied; we’re considerate of age, disability, race, LBGQT+, regional accents and physical size. It’s essential to our clients’ and their customers that ‘real’ people are represented, that the end users see themselves in the fitness content. This has meant we focus more effort in the pre-production and development of the workouts to ensure the tone of voice is correct and takes into consideration this level of new inclusivity.
There is no doubt that online fitness is ideal for the ‘new to exercise’ market and is now making strides where some gym operators and leisure centres are failing to connect. Many health clubs and gyms still assume their new customers already have an understanding of physical activity and are confident to walk through the doors; a strategy that can intimidate and stop this ‘hard to reach’ group on their fitness journey.
Training at home enables people to feel safe, not self-conscious and have the autonomy to choose to try new things, progress and even to rest/stop when required, without judgment from others. This, in turn, allows an individual’s confidence to grow and hopefully encourages them to one day access more mainstream physical activity, like a gym or a health club.