It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s a new gym being built. They seem to be almost as ubiquitous as banks. But why? And is there really that many people exercising?
According to the IHRSA (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association), the $30 billion health and fitness industry in the U.S. has been growing by at least three to four percent annually for the last ten years and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. If anything, it’s accelerating. Currently about 20 percent of American adults have a fitness club membership, a number which could double in the next ten years.
WHAT IS FUELING THE GROWTH IN THE FITNESS INDUSTRY?
The cost of healthcare. As the cost of healthcare continues to rise, people (and employers) are realizing the value of a healthy lifestyle. Many employers and insurers now cover the costs of a health club membership or studio classes.
The growth in organic foods. Gone are the days when McDonald’s was the go-to for dinner. As more people care about what they put into their bodies in terms of food, there is a trickle down effect in terms of what else they can do to be healthy.
Fitbits. Who would have thought that the idea of tracking your step, your heart rate while working out, and the number of calories burned while exercising would fuel a growth in exercise? It has. Having your Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin, and even many of the smartphones at your fingertips has raised awareness of your health and gotten more people to realize health is important in their lives.
Streaming exercises. Many people don’t exercise because it’s just one more thing to add to their already busy lives. Getting to the gym can take valuable time. Hence, the growth in the idea of attending a class at home at your convenience has taken root and, surprisingly, had not caused a dip in gym memberships. Research has shown most of these people do maintain a gym membership, but also utilize streaming as well.
Two segments of the fitness industry have been responsible for the majority of its recent growth in members and number of facilities: Boutique fitness studios and “high-value, low-price” (HVLP) health clubs. Inexpensive gyms with great equipment has exploded as gym owners utilize the fact that 150 people who can pay $30 is more revenue that 30 who can pay $130 dollars. Plus, by stripping out the amenities (like towels) provided by traditional gyms, HVLPs save money, which they pass on to their clients. Less impactful, but still important, are boutique studios, which have also been growing very quickly all over the country. These studios are usually small and specialized. Spinning, high-intensity interval training classes, circuit training, barre, and Pilates are examples. They are also generally on the higher end price-wise, ranging from $20 – $50 a class, or $150 – $200 month. Selling points for these are the central locations (since they can fit almost anywhere), the specialization, and the camaraderie fostered by the smaller, more quaint environment. For the time being, consumers certainly don’t seem to mind the prices, but time will tell – especially if the economy changes.
Outdoor obstacle races. The Tough Mudder and The Spartan events usually draw huge crowds, mainly from the sense of teamwork and personal accomplishment that comes with completing one — not to mention they are a blast. These races have been growing in popularity for many years and with the races now broken down by skill level, the appeal of them has only grown. But what makes these one-off events have such a major impact on the fitness industry’s growth? You have to train for them —hard – and many times people do it in a health club.
According to Forbes Magazine, “all these factors have combined to create a fitness industry that is growing faster than it ever has before. The current U.S. health and fitness facility count is approximately 32,000, though there are likely thousands of boutique studios that remain uncounted. Look for that number to go way up – and potentially double – in the next decade or two.”
There are many benefits to an exercise class, especially if you’re someone who wouldn’t exercise normally. Below is the top reasons to join an exercise class today.
TOP REASONS TO JOIN AN EXERCISE CLASS
Accountability. This one is huge. If you commit to a class, you are more likely to attend. If you attend a gym or a workout facility that charges you if you miss a class, this percentage jumps dramatically. This is an even better way to make sure you exercise. These are usually specialty places like HIIT gyms, kickboxing, or cycle classes where they reserve equipment for you and don’t let others in.
Extra push. You do work harder when there are others around you to “compete” against, even if you aren’t necessarily competing. We can thank our inner drive most of us have to beat others, which is also the reason humans are where we are technologically. The drive to be the best and be the first has resulted in major innovations over time.
Workout with a friend. Working out with a friend also contributes to
accountability as well. However, the primary reason to attend an exercise class with a friend is it’s fun. It makes the hour long class go by a lot faster when you can chit-chat in-between moves or during transition times.
Mindless. It’s nice to show up to the gym and not have to think about what to do, especially if you’ve been at work all day, thinking. Furthermore, an exercise class provides this much needed structure, so your time is maximized — important when so many of us lead very busy lives.
Learn about exercise. Exercise class instructors will teach you about exercise. They will show you proper form for moves, give you new moves you didn’t know existed and/or ideas to add to your own workout routine, and extra tips like nutrition and supplement advice.
Routine. Attending the same classes every week is an easy way to develop a routine. You are more likely to stick to exercising in a routine than just going it your own, hoping for the best.
Variety. We all know how mind-numbingly boring running on a treadmill can be. However, you run on a treadmill in a class setting with the instructor telling you what to do and pushing you, and this mind-numbing has suddenly turned into a butt-whipping that you crave.
There are many benefits to attending exercise classes as well as working out alone. Try both and see what works for you. What really matters is staying active and healthy. How you stay active and healthy is up to you.
I just did a HIIT (high-intensity, interval training) workout for 90 minutes today at Orange Theory Fitness and got my butt kicked. I ran almost 5 miles at different intensities, and then had to row and do dumbbell moves afterwards. By 1 hour and 20 minutes, I was done. I was barely moving. I’m pretty sore now already.
WHAT’S A HIIT WORKOUT?
HIIT workouts are high-intensity interval training workouts designed to increase the
body’s need for oxygen and create an oxygen shortage, causing your body to ask for more oxygen during recovery. This afterburn effect is referred to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and is the reason why intense exercise will help burn more fat and calories than regular aerobic and steady-state workouts.
Over time, high-intensity workouts can increase your VO2 max, or your body’s ability to use oxygen for energy. This translates to better endurance, which leads to more energy and the ability to sustain more work for a longer period of time.
Working different aerobic systems improves endurance while building stronger fast-twitch muscle fibers, which can help deliver that final kick needed to finish strong. Working out at 70 percent to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate will deliver the greatest EPOC effect.
However, recovery is important. We only get stronger when we recover, and it can take 24 to 48 hours to fully recover from a high intensity interval training workout.
WHY YOU SHOULD TRY HIIT WORKOUTS
Increase your metabolism to burn more calories faster and longer
Increase your VO2 max to increase endurance
Force yourself outside your comfort zone to do things you otherwise wouldn’t
Increase performance across all sports
I can tell you right now I would never have done this on my own. The advantages to working out in a class setting is you do do things you otherwise wouldn’t. It was fun. I got an amazing workout. I burned 741 calories. And I feel great! I can’t wait until my next class!
I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, had a long day at work, and then had to get ready to leave town for Christmas. So I slept in.
Thus, I felt rushed to squeeze in lifting, exercising, and a workout before I left. However, I told myself, “Something is better than nothing.” It made me think how doing just a little is better than doing nothing at all.
5 Quick Tips for Squeezing in a Workout When You “Don’t Have Time”
“I don’t have time to exercise,” is a common excuse amongst those who don’t exercise.
Let’s face it, we all lead busy lives. And we all can find 20 extra minutes to squeeze in a workout. If this has become your mantra, then here are tips to get in an extra workout:
Get up earlier. Even if you get up just 20 minutes earlier, that 15 minutes you can squeeze in some kind of activity. Whether this is walking your dog, a quick 5×5 session at light weight, or a quick circuit of bodyweight movements, getting up sooner will give you the time to workout.
Cut your TV time. All it takes is to watch one less episode of “Game of Thrones” or whatever you happen to be binge watching to do a quick run or bike.
Cut your Internet/Social Media time. You’re not losing weight Instagraming your latest photos or liking blog posts. Twenty minutes of less Internet time is all it will take to get moving.
Skip your after work happy hours. If your work happy hours are turning into an every day thing, then start skipping them and hit the gym instead. Plus, when you consume less calories, that’s less you’ll have to burn off later!
Maximize your wait times. When you’re waiting for your kids’ soccer practice to get over or you are stuck in town for an hour, waiting for gymnastics to end, try hitting the gym during that time or walking around the field.
We all waste some time during the day — sometimes we can’t prevent it, but sometimes we can. Staying healthy doesn’t have to take long. It only takes minutes a day that add up to health and wellness. Ask yourself where are your wasted minutes during the day and how can you use those minutes more wisely?
Over the weekend, I got food poisoning. Luckily, it didn’t last that long. However, I lost all my energy and overall felt like I was hungover. Yet, I wanted to return to training as soon as possible. In the past, I have been sick as well and getting back to exercising when you’re not feeling 100 percent is tough. Here are some tips to help you return to exercise after you’ve been ill.
Tips for Exercising after You’ve Been Sick
Take it slow. Don’t go all out to crush a workout (especially a CrossFit workout) after you’ve been sick. It’s okay to return to exercise not quite 100 percent, but don’t push your body to its limits. You open yourself up to injury and a longer recovery period from your illness if you do.
Drink more than usual during a workout. Stop at logical breaks or at least every two minutes and take a sip of water. Your body needs extra nourishment as it’s trying to fuel your body and recover from an illness.
Recovery after the workout is key. Drink your protein shake and recovery drink immediately after you’re finished and don’t cut the dosage. Your body will need all those electrolytes.
Listen to your body. I say this a lot, but it’s true. Over the next several days, your body will let you know when it’s ready to be pushed and return to your normal level of exercise. This is different for everyone who has different levels of fitness and a different degree of sickness. Food poisoning is quite different than pneumonia.
Be smart. Fitness will always be there. Recover and then hit it hard. Injuring yourself is just not worth it. If your body needs rest, then rest as hard as it is. You’ll be the stronger for it if you do.
Illnesses are a part of life. Luckily, as our immune systems get older, they aren’t a big part of our life. When you’re active and you get sick, take a break. Let your body concentrate on recovery and not performance. Use the time to catch up on a book you want to read or a TV series you want to watch. The mental break can be just as good for you as the physical break. Feel better soon!
Exercise after surgery is a delicate balance. You don’t want to strain yourself, but you want to get back in the game. Here are some tips to find that balance after surgery:
Tips for Returning to Exercising after Surgery
Listen to your body. You’ll know when you’re ready or not, and if you feel you’re doing too much, stop. Exercise can slow the healing process, so be cognizant of your “push” level.
Take it slow. Return to easy workouts for the first few days with some low-grade cardio and moderate strength training. You’ll want to ease yourself back in the game.
Proceed with an abundance of caution. If your doctor says you’re good to go, add in an extra day or two. There’s no rush. Your workouts will still be there in a few extra days.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Don’t go run a 5k the day after you’re cleared. Run a mile instead.
It was so good to feel my heart rate elevated again. I didn’t realize how much I had missed it. I waited an extra day before I worked out. Then I only did mild cardio and my squat program. I’m taking tomorrow off and will return to a real workout on Monday.
I should be cleared on December 11th, so until then I will be cautious. Listen to your doctor. Listen to your body. Soon enough, you’ll be back!