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Takeaways from Global Wellness Institute’s Future of Fitness


Susie Ellis, the CEO of Global Wellness Institute, presented “The Future of Wellness and Fitness” at the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association’s (IHRSA) 2022 trade show last week.

Ellis discussed how several wellness trends identified by the Global Wellness Summit for 2022 will specifically impact and define the future of the fitness and wellness industry.

Here are some of the major developments community recreation centers should watch for while we continue to climb out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fitness Heads Outdoors

We all lived through the pandemic and remember how difficult those first few months were. We had to find ways to stay sane and physically active. Thus, the outdoor fitness boom began, and Ellis insists the trend is not going to slow down anytime soon.

“Many of us turned to the great outdoors: walking, hiking, cycling, climbing, gardening, camping, flocking to lakes and oceans to swim,” she said. “The result? An outdoor equipment market that is exploding, rustic glamping that trumps five-star luxury resorts and an explosion in outdoor fitness programming.”

Therefore, what’s next for outdoor fitness isn’t a decline — it’s an evolution. Ellis described how these experiences in nature will become more creative and soulful.

Examples of this include farm-focused fitness, travel destination getaways and surf therapy. With so many people using the outdoors as mental health escapes, that passion is set to grow and become increasingly spiritual.

Also, there has been an upward trend of urban playgrounds in major cities where nature meets wellness. These areas are any manmade space acting as a host for fitness classes which are also expected to only grow in number.

Toxic Muscularity

It’s no secret that social media led to a poisonous expectation of what the perfect female body should be. However, those effects are also creating what Ellis calls toxic muscularity for males.

It’s not just social media. Hollywood is also creating unrealistic expectations of what men should look like. Actors often suffer muscle dysmorphia from obsessive dieting, weightlifting and steroid abuse just to land a starring role.

Luckily, some famous names, like “The Batman” star Robert Pattinson, are speaking out against these harmful habits and unrealistic goals.

“I think if you’re working out all the time, you’re part of the problem,” said Pattinson in GQ Magazine. “You set a precedent. No one was doing this in the ’70s. Even James Dean — he wasn’t exactly ripped.”

Ellis said it’s time for the fitness and wellness industry to do some “soul-searching” to combat toxic muscularity. She specifically said the Global Wellness Institute predicts more fitness brands will step up soon to publicly combat this issue.

Attention For Older Bodies

Our world’s population is aging faster than ever before.

In fact, older adults are projected to outnumber kids for the first time in U.S. history within the next few decades. With this in mind, Ellis questions why the fitness industry isn’t doing more to accommodate beginner-level exercise.

“The future of fitness is simpler, more joyful, less punishing, more accessible, more welcoming, and more inclusive of all bodies and ages for people who don’t want to get ripped and instead seek a basic strength and movement approach,” she said. “A new generation of fitness leaders are focusing on simple skills that make an impact.”

One example Ellis pointed out is Planet Fitness’ sustained success while having a beginner-friendly, low-cost business model within the industry.

It’s still very beneficial for facilities to have advanced fitness classes for experienced individuals. However, more community recreation centers will need to embrace these trends to properly evolve and provide for community members.


John Reecer

John Reecer is an assistant editor at Peake Media.

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