Why Gen Z look set to shake up the fitness industry

Never before has an entire generation been unable to remember a world without the internet. But Gen Z, the digitally entrenched generation, are expected to shake up a number of industries including, according to US-based Center for Generational Kinetics (CGK), exercise and fitness.  

A study conducted by CGK revealed a number of interesting discoveries, one being that Gen Zers have grown up hearing all about the benefits of an active lifestyle and regular exercise, so might possibly be the generation to reverse the alarming trend of large waistlines and high levels of lifestyle-associated diseases. 

“As our whole society begins to take more notice of health, wellness and nutrition, we predict that Gen Z will follow suit and start leading that trend,” says CGK CEO Denise Villa.

“Generation Z will know much more about healthy lifestyles, from a very young age, than any previous generation. Having a health-aware generation means a great future for the fitness and wellness industries."

The study also uncovered Gen Zers desire to search for information about health and fitness on YouTube. “I think one message we're seeing is that if you’re not on YouTube, showing people what you do, giving people information and building your following – be it as a personal trainer or a gym – then you’re totally missing this generation.

As well as Snapchat, YouTube is where Z-ers go to search for information, to learn how to do things and to follow influencers they admire."

It also appears that Gen Z will push gyms and fitness centres into the tech age. Les Mills CEO Phillip Mills, who regularly offers insights into the fitness industry, believes that traditional gyms and clubs need to evolve technologically. By offering free wifi and phone charging points, as well as making their social media channels accessible in their facilities, will help them compete with experiential boutique studios, preferred by Gen Z.

Villa believes that there are some excellent opportunities for influencers and smaller fitness operators to capture the interest of Gen Z too. "Generation Z definitely doesn’t look for – or immediately trust – a brand just because it is a big name,” she says. “They have grown up in an environment which is saturated by advertising. They have a mistrust of adverts and aren’t going for big brands, they're going for best value.

“Instead of brands, Z-ers are looking to online influencers to guide them: popular social media accounts, bloggers and real people – on YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat – to tell them about products.”