Where will the fitness industry be in 20 years? Will people still walk inside the doors of a building to run on a treadmill, take a group cycling class or participate in small group training? Or will the industry look much different with programs outside of clubs? Will the Exercise is Medicine campaign take off to the point where every doctor will actually prescribe exercise? Will health insurers routinely pay for this “medicine?” Or will people simply take a pill or drink a shake that will automatically balance their systems, negating the need for cardio workouts and strength training?
It is hard to say what the future will bring, but I do think that the medical connection will be greater and the personal connection between the exerciser and a wellness expert will still be needed, whether that is within the walls of a fitness facility or in the exerciser’s own home.
So what does that mean for the people who work in the health and wellness industry? It means you will still be needed, but your job and your business might look different. And it means we must ensure that we are preparing a new generation of personal trainers, dieticians, group exercise instructors, swim coaches, physical therapists and the like to join our ranks. What are you doing to help facilitate that?
I visited the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado-Denver in Aurora, CO, last month and found out what the staff there is doing. (Read the related story to learn more.) In partnership with a local school, the center offers career chats with students to show them career possibilities beyond being a professional athlete. Students hear from personal trainers, dieticians, researchers and others who have dedicated their lives to helping others in their fitness and wellness needs.
But the wellness center also is preparing children to be healthier adults, regardless of their future careers. As part of a program called 5th Gear Kids, which is led by James O. Hill, the executive director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, staff from the facility visit schools in the Aurora Public Schools and Cherry Creek School District to teach children how to balance the energy they take in with the energy they put out. The program focuses on exercise, smart shopping and healthy eating. Children can build points by doing healthy activities, such as going for their annual physical, exercising and buying healthy foods. Local businesses partner with the program to offer rewards to children for the points they build.
The goal of the program is to make participating in healthy lifestyles more desirable to fifth-graders, according to the program’s website.
But that preparation also means these children will grow up with the belief that their health is important and that eating right and exercising is a part of that. That likely will increase this generation’s propensity to become members or employees and owners of fitness businesses of the future—whatever those may look like.
What is your business doing to prepare the children in your community to become active and fit? Do you have programs in place to mentor children in fitness jobs? If so, comment so that others can learn from what you are doing.