Fitness in the Gap – How 3 Companies are Serving the Underserved
In the growing fitness industry, there’s also a growing underserved population that has been falling through the cracks – busy corporate travelers would like to hit the gym and work with a trainer but can’t get there, senior citizens, people with physical challenges, and many people who are reluctant to work out in public. Fortunately, with the rise of technology-supported advanced fitness coaching, a growing number of fitness trainers are working to close those gaps.
Let’s look at a few stats to understand the scope of the problem. According to the Global Wellness Institute, the health and fitness market reached $3.7 trillion worldwide in 2015, growing 10.6% in just over two years. The U.S. fitness apps and wearables market alone earned more than $43 billion that year.
Part of the industry’s growth comes from the rise of workplace wellness programs that offer onsite coaching to their workers. This approach brings health and wellness to the office, which helps to reach more people. When people don’t have to go out of the way to exercise, it becomes easier and more practical to work fitness into their daily lifestyles. Instead of packing up to go to the gym before or after work, employees can participate right at the office.
While this helps close some of the accessibility gap, there are still large numbers of underserved clients who don’t have an in-office wellness plan, have physical limitations, can’t make it to the gym, or can’t afford an in-home trainer. For them, advanced training solutions are opening up new options in fitness and wellness.
Let’s look at three companies that are leveraging these options to serve specific niches in the personal training industry.
Not Everyone Can Get to the Gym
For many, the idea of working out in public can be excrutiating. Many people find the workouts too intimidating, fear failure, or fear public ridicule. Others don’t mind the gym, but travel a lot or have a schedule that doesn’t allow consistent access.
That’s where a remote fitness coaching platform like Fitliner comes in. They offer a global training platform that allows people to work live with a professional, certified trainer via webcam. Using the ClickMeeting live webinar platform, Fitliner connects clients with personal trainers to give them that level of direct accountability,without the fear, anxiety or inconvenience of a live gym setting.
Katarin Slodičáková of Fitliner adamantly believes that just because you can’t get to the gym doesn’t mean you should forego access to a personal trainer. “I knew that if someone really wants to change their lifestyles and improve their long-term health,” she says, “ideally they should work with professional trainers to learn effective methods of exercise and motivation.”
Fitliner’s online fitness hub allows their customers to create their own profiles, connect with their trainers, get the consultation they need, pay for their sessions, and workout in the privacy of their own space. Slodičáková says the key to their successful business model is flexibility; because her company allows its customers to connect with professional trainers in private, they effectively eliminate a huge emotional barrier.
New Approaches to Physical Challenges
Beyond the emotional factor, there’s another growing challenge when it comes to personal fitness. As the CDC reports, approximately 18.2 million adults in the United States find it difficult or impossible to walk a quarter mile, and another 40 million have some sort of physical disability that makes working out more challenging.
“Since the late 1990s-early 2000s, there has been a steady growth in the diversity of populations frequenting our fitness facilities,” says Hazel Goudie of TrainFitness. “This has led to a significant shift in the type of participant and overall perception of those who use our fitness facilities across England – possibly peaking after the 2012 Paralympic Games.”
Goudie sees a wide range of abilities in people using fitness facilities, as both adolescents and adults with physical limitations seek healthy exercise options. Indeed, as the Paralympics continue to grow in popularity, there is growing recognition of the true physical potential for people with disabilities.
To meet this growing need, TrainFitness offers a specialization certification for personal trainers, so they can create tailored programs for clients with a wide range of physical disabilities.
“As you can imagine disabled clients’ goals will differ greatly to your usual clients with emphasis focussing much more on maximising limited function and independence,” Goudie explains. “Seemingly small advances in the gym will see huge lifestyle improvements for disabled clients in their home and social/work life and being a part of that is priceless.”
Serving the Senior Market
Finally, we see a massive increase in seniors who are renewing their commitment to fitness, or even beginning a workout routine for the first time.
Training the Baby Boomer generation comes with a unique set of challenges; not only are seniors dealing with the same challenges as any adult, they also face more functional impairment, chronic disease, cognitive impairments, muscle loss, frailty, hormonal shifts, and side effects from medications, in particular those related to heart disease and diabetes. They often face an additional obstacle of not being able to drive to the gym to engage with a qualified trainer.
That’s where 60PlusFitness comes in. Based in South Carolina, the company serves clients across North America onsite in retirement communities and senior centers, and even remotely.
They focus exclusively on clients age 50 and up, to help them stay independent and active, reduce fall risk, improve bone density and muscle mass, and reduce the risk of bone fracture. Their programs are designed to give seniors safe and effective exercise options that improve overall health and well-being, while limiting the risk of injury.
Innovations that close the fitness gap
Fitness remains a challenge for many people across the globe, whether it be from emotional reasons that keep them from getting to the gym, physical disability, or the challenges of the aging body.
These three companies are using new technology and advances in physical conditioning knowledge to meet the gaps in the industry, so that even those who are disadvantaged can continue to work on their fitness goals and improve their overall health.