Social Media Influences Fitness Trends

Facebook and Twitter make it easier than ever for people to keep in touch without ever actually meeting face to face, but does that make users less social? The answer is no, according to the 2011 Tracking the Fitness Movement report, which says group exercise classes are increasingly popular among people born between 1980 and 1999, often referred to as Generation Y.

Participation in these activities has increased by 20 percent in the last three years, in part because they provide an opportunity for socialization that young adults have come to crave in the era of social media, according to the report by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) and the Association of Fitness Industry Retailers and Manufacturers (AFIRM).

“Generation Y is probably in closer communication with its peers than any other group in history,” says Tom Cove, SGMA’s president and CEO. “People in their early 20s to early 30s are using social media on all levels and at all times. One of the by-products of this steady communication is the surge in popularity of group exercise classes among Generation Y. Group cycling, step aerobics and dance to music classes are all very popular with Gen Y.”

That desire for communication may have helped popularize fitness electronics, another trend included in the report. Small devices appeal to exercisers because they make it easy for users to monitor their exercise, share workout information with friends and family and even compete to see who can burn more calories or lose the most weight.

Although young adults seem to be driving the trends in the health and fitness industries, they are not the most active age group, the report says. (That title goes to 45- to 54-year-olds.) But Generation Y's influence might be stronger because people between 25 and 34 are more likely to work out at health clubs compared to those over 45, who prefer to exercise at home.

And those home exercisers seem to be buying more equipment. Both commercial and home equipment sales are up by around 5 percent, and sales of elliptical machines and treadmills for home use increased by a higher percentage.

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