By Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D.

At a time when fitness is being delivered to our wrists in the latest but surely not the last iteration of workouts and meditations powered by the Apple Watch, when a most recent year ending Wall St. Journal headline points to Omicron threatening to upend the “fragile recovery” of gyms, when IHRSA reports that nearly 30% of gyms and studios have already shuttered and the workforce in the industry has contracted by 47%, when the notion has been firmly planted in the minds of the public that you can exercise anywhere (see the latest “trend” predicted by the ACSM), it’s time to practice the pause and ask yourself what’s most needed now in a re-evaluated value proposition to attract and retain audience segments?

HAA…no, that’s not a laugh. That’s, “Health Above All.” That is what is front and center in the minds of the public. Is that what genuinely shapes your offerings, truly guides those who serve your members, and accurately fills your marketing messages?

It’s no longer about muscle. It’s about the health of those muscles. It’s no longer about sexy six-packs. It’s about being healthy enough to enjoy sex. Get it?

Gyms that have not moved – honestly – into the health arena are losing. You see the headlines, the screaming broadcast alerts. It’s not about which exercise is better, or how many reps one must do to add inches to one’s biceps.

Those days are long gone. Those days are so far in the past, that they can no longer be seen in the rearview mirror. The headlines today and tomorrow are alarms to protect health against the latest variant of COVID. Gyms can expertly and competently step into that conversation since physical activity, movement, exercise, are recognized by all as an essential piece of the health puzzle. Aligned with local physicians, gyms can become a part of a community’s healthcare system fully attracting a despairing public that is seeking to prevent and reduce stress and anxiety while supporting their physical and emotional wellbeing.

Helping the public meet their wellness goals, not simply their fitness goals, is the language of today. Are you offering emotional education classes? What can you bring to members, in a hybrid fashion, that will promote their physical health beyond exercise?

Let’s continue this discussion at Active Entities Consulting and create the trends, not simply follow the trends. It’s time to be a health trailblazer and pivot around the body building dead end that so many are still babbling and dithering on about.