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Les Mills Study Examines Changing Landscape of Fitness

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND — Will future teenagers laugh at us when we tell them how we used to “go to the gym” to work out?

That's one of the questions addressed in a recently released study titled “The Future of Fitness.” The study was researched and written by The Nielsen Co. and published by Les Mills International, Auckland, New Zealand.

Les Mills Founder Phillip Mills says that the current model of the industry asks fitness enthusiasts to fit themselves around a gym-centric entity, but they may not be as compliant in the future.

“[Consumers] are less likely to embrace fitness through hard work,” Mills says. “They will want fitness to be shaped around them. They will ask our industry to become more people-centric.”

The study concludes that as fitness enthusiasts use the Internet to work out in their living rooms or offices, the term “fitness” will less often be defined by going to the gym. Furthermore, “fitness” will be defined differently if a pill or plastic surgery can maintain health and restore beauty.

The three key challenges and opportunities for people working in the fitness industry, according to the study, are staying relevant to current members who already commit time and effort to fitness, improving the offering of a fitness opportunity to those who enjoy fitness but do not like going to the gym, and keeping the industry fresh, relevant and competitive in the face of changing demographics, technology, medicine and competition.

“Smart businesses will capitalize on the changing demands of articulate consumers,” Mills says. “Our industry has the opportunity to lead the change by, for example, helping to ensure that consumers' changing tastes are informed by knowledge and are linked to good health and wellness outcomes.”

“The Future of Fitness” was the result of more than a year's worth of work, including a comprehensive literature review, interviews with several dozen leaders in the fitness industry and other fields, focus group sessions and field observation.

The study can be downloaded from the Web site

Phillip Mills is scheduled to lead a workshop session about the study at the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association show March 10 in San Diego.

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