Remember the phrase “beach body”?
A decade or two ago, everything seemed to revolve around those two words. Fitness, it seemed, was more about aesthetics than anything else. In other words, it was about how you looked, not how you moved.
Then, around 2009, CrossFit seemed to flip the script. Functional fitness and the ability to move like an athlete were deemed more important than just having visible abs.
And today, things seem to have shifted again, with the fitness world being more about holistic wellness. People are more open to talking about mental health, and fitness isn’t just about hardcore workouts anymore. People are starting to understand and preach the importance of mobility, recovery and self-care.
The bottom line: fitness evolves. And while it’s tough to say with certainty what direction we’re heading in, there might be some insight to gain from what we know about Generation Z, or those born roughly between 1997 and 2012.
Below, what you should know about the new generation of fitness, and what these shifts could mean for your Wix Fit business.
Gen Z is tech-savvy
Gen Z grew up with the technology that wowed previous generations. Members of this generation have little to no memory of life before smartphones, according to Pew Research, and the average Gen Zer got their first smartphone before they turned 12, Insider recently noted. And 31 percent of Gen Z feel uncomfortable when separated from their phones for half an hour or less, per a 2018 study conducted by the Center for Generational Kinetics.
What you can do: “Tech is everything,” says 23-year-old NASM-CPT Cara Carmichael, who adds that one of the first things people her age do every day is consume content (usually on TikTok or Instagram). To appeal to Gen Z as a fitness professional, you’ll need a social media presence. “Be on there, be consistent and be you,” says Carmichael.
In addition to having a social media presence, you’ll want to build online programs and shoot workout videos to meet people on their screens. NASM also offers a virtual coaching specialization, and you can read more about how to be an online personal trainer here.
Gen Z believes in social impact
Gen Zers hold businesses to a higher standard than members of other generations. They’re three times more likely to believe that the purpose of business is to support society, according to a 2019 brief on MarketingDive. They also see purchasing decisions as an opportunity to express their values, per a 2021 article from The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Insider also notes that Gen Z “eclipses all other generations before it in embracing diversity and inclusion.”
What you can do: This is just one of many reasons why representation is crucial for your fitness business, and this generation may expect more from fitness professionals and businesses than just helping them attend to their health. Reflect on a cause that you feel connected to and consider hosting a fundraising event (or multiple events) to support it. But a word of caution: Don’t fake enthusiasm for something you don’t actually care about, because…
Gen Z values authenticity
It’ll benefit you to be as authentic as possible when you’re supporting a cause, Carmichael confirms. You’re not going to attract everyone, she notes, but your message will speak to people who appreciate how real you are. And more generally, outside of the social impact realm alone, we know that Gen Z spends their time and money with authentic brands.
What you can do: One thing you might try, according to Forbes, is breaking down some of the barriers between what you share about yourself as a fitness business owner and what you tell the people you love and trust. So, if you’re learning a new language or loving a new show, consider sharing with current and potential clients. Forbes also noted that storytelling is a powerful way to convey authenticity, whether you’re sharing your own stories or those of your employees and clients.
Gen Z has struggled with mental health
Members of Gen Z are the most likely of all generations to report having poor mental health, according to a 2018 report from the American Psychological Association. The report notes that significant stressors for this generation include “high-profile issues, such as sexual harassment and gun violence.” It was also noted that they’re much more likely to seek professional help for mental health concerns.
What you can do: It stands to reason that Gen Zers have a broader view of wellness that extends beyond the physical realm, and Carmichael believes this to be true. Some advice for trainers: Understand what you can offer—while staying within your scope of practice as a trainer—if and when mental health comes up. As Carmichael points out, you can provide a listening ear for what they’re going through, but providing recommendations and advice crosses a line if you don’t have the appropriate credentials. For more information related to mental health and scope of practice, check out 5 ways personal trainers can help with the mental health crisis.