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4 Challenges Facing the Fitness Industry In the Next 20 Years

In the world of fitness, equipment makers and trainers face many challenges. I have two decades experience of being a fitness industry professional and have found that the best way to overcome a challenge is to turn it into an opportunity. We all know the expression, “When life gives you lemons, make some lemonade.” But how can you turn a challenge into ice-cold refreshment? Here are four challenges I predict the fitness industry will face in the coming two decades and the opportunities they present. We all know the expression, “When life gives you lemons, make some lemonade.” But how can you turn a challenge into ice-cold refreshment?

Here are four challenges I predict the fitness industry will face in the coming two decades and the opportunities they present.


Technology is rapidly becoming more affordable and accessible. Just think about what a flat-screen television would have cost you ten years ago versus today? This abundance creates an expectation: Modern consumers want equipment that incorporates technology into their workouts in a meaningful way.

Technology influences education and creates access to information. We no longer need to read a book on how to train for a marathon. We can google it. Technology is a conduit to information and the design of the product should feature that technology. This means embracing the abundance and affordability of technology to craft an experience that directly measures progress and tracks individual performance.

What makes one treadmill more appealing than the one next to it? As business owners begin to invest more money into their studios and equipment, the design of that equipment needs to complement its environment. In the same way as when you enter an expensive house you expect to see a nice sofa. Instead of trying to reinvent the treadmill, design a product that uses technology to create an experience users are demanding. It is an opportunity to immediately differentiate yourself in the marketplace.


Trainers often use the phrase, “Keep your body guessing.” We do this by shocking your system and surprising your muscles with exercises that engage your body in new ways. The problem is, it is just as important to keep your mind guessing. Have you had the experience of being in a gym and finding your attention drift to the wall-mounted television in the corner? That’s because you aren’t mentally engaged in what you are doing.

This is a problem because we aren’t obtaining all of the health benefits we could be. Harvard Medical School discovered “exercise changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills.” The opportunity engaging the mind provides is the ability to completely focus on what you are doing. An engaged mind also provides a twenty minute cocoon from the day where you can turn on airplane mode and find your whitespace. For studio owners, there is the added benefit of saving money on your cable bill because you can take down all those distracting televisions.


Anyone who has taken an art history class or visited a museum has seen the interpretation of the ideal human form change through the years. The measure of ideal fitness is also changing. Fitness is no longer about looking a certain way. People also want to feel a certain way. Do you remember asking yourself who would win in a fight, Bruce Lee or Arnold? I do. Bruce won. Fitness used to be measured by the number of pounds a person could lift/pull/press/raise. Now, the measure of fitness is overall athletic ability. We see this in the rising popularity of “extreme workouts” such as CrossFit and P90X. Slate reported, that in the last ten years these “work out so hard you vomit” programs have found 10 million customers. People want endurance. They want to be more efficient and versatile with their bodies. The growing want is not being big, but to have overall body strength and conditioning. Today’s society wants to be Ninjas. We want to be Bruce Lee.

The problem this presents for the fitness community is creating a method that meets these wants. The big box gyms used to be enough. This is no longer the case. Personally, I have always felt there is a distinction between the word “gym” and the word “studio.” A gym is a place where individuals go to exercise on their own. A studio, however, is a place where people are part of a community. There is a communal experience occurs in a studio where a gym lacks guidance. This is because a studio is a place where you practice your craft. I.E. An art studio. A music studio. A dance studio. A Karate studio. It is a place for innovation and artistic approach. The opportunity the changing measure of fitness creates is the creation of a community.


In December 2012, Popular Mechanics compiled two lists to commemorate their 110th Issue: “110 Predictions For the Next 110 Years,” and “10 Things That Will Remain the Same.” It was the second list I found to be particularly interesting because number nine on their list was the Dumbbell. Look at the growing number of fitness studios you see around the world. What do you see? I see polished hardwood floors, machines that look like they were in designed by Elon Musk at SpaceX, and neon resistance bands. I don’t see many dumbbells.

As our society continues to become more mindful about food, and more mindful about exercise, people will be looking to fitness not to lose weight, but to engage the mind and achieve overall, holistic, health. This means embracing new technologies and innovative training methods to create the supply for what the clientele is demanding. The opportunity this creates is that we as equipment makers and trainers don’t have to be relegated to using such a primitive tool as the dumbbell. By turning these challenges and others into opportunities, we will be able to become healthier and stay healthier for decades to come.

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