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Social Networking Making its Mark on Fitness and Exercise

Date: 7/14/11

Group Exercise Fuels Participation & Equipment Sales Increase

SILVER SPRING, MD – July 14, 2011 – Social networking and Generation Y’s focus on technology might be having a dramatically different impact on America’s fitness patterns than many assume. Rather than locking young people into an inactive lifestyle, social media may be driving the younger generation into new forms of fitness activities, according to the 2011 Tracking the Fitness Movement, released today by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) and its affiliate, Association of Fitness Industry Retailers and Manufacturers (AFIRM).

Highlighting Gen Y’s (those born between 1980 and 1999) physical fitness trend is the growing interest in group exercise. High impact aerobics, step aerobics and group stationary cycling activities have all increased more than 20% in participation within the past three years.

“Generation Y is probably in closer communication with its peers than any other group in history,” said SGMA’s President & CEO Tom Cove. “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.”

This year’s Tracking the Fitness Movement Report covers a wide variety of topics for just about anyone that does business in the Fitness, Health and Exercise categories. According to Cove, “We are very pleased to see sales of equipment for both home-based exercise and commercial equipment up by 4.3% and 5.5% respectively. In the home fitness equipment category, sales of treadmills and elliptical machines are up by the high single digits over the previous year. This is a nice turnaround from the sluggish sales trends of the past two years.” 

Another trend uncovered by the data suggests increased use of fitness electronics in Americans’ everyday routines, making it easier to work out if one is electronically up to date. 

 “Small fitness accessories and hand-held devices are highly motivational because they allow people to challenge their peers to see who burns the most calories in class.” said Jeff Padovan, former President of Polar, a leading fitness technology company.

Social and technological aspects that are incorporated in exercise will continue to yield a greater number of participants. Considering Gen Y, the activities that are increasing in participation are group oriented or led by an instructor. Group activities not only provide the social aspect that this generation craves, they offer encouragement, positive feedback, and healthy competition.

Special Report: Reaching Out to Generation Y: Advice from the Experts

This edition of Tracking the Fitness Movement features a panel of experts who work closely with the Gen Y group. The shift toward group exercise is a key trend this year, and although somewhat contradicting that this group is expected to be the most isolated due to excessive iPod and smartphone use, it seems to have had the opposite effect. They commented on how this group thinks about fitness and the ways in which they become motivated.

“One thing is clear- when it comes to fitness or anything else, they know what they want,” stated one of the panelists, Todd Miller, an Associate Professor of Exercise Science at George Washington University. “They don’t make any decisions before doing some research on the internet- where there is an unlimited amount of information at their fingertips. As a result, they are smart consumers.”

Another expert, Karen Jashinsky, the Founder of O2 MAX Fitness & Media commented, “In our studio, we have a very social environment, where kids can work out…They’ll often leave the studio, get on Facebook and chat with us. The computer seems to break down barriers and they’re more open. Social Media is the main way to connect, so we do what works for them.”

Miller states of social networking that “It’s very important and clubs have to be good at getting their brands on social networking sites… Companies can use Facebook to target a demographic or a specific type of person.”

This generation has grasped that staying healthy is the best way to maintain physical fitness and prolong your life. Providing socials aspects, integrating tech-savvy workout tools, and making exercise fun and accessible are all key factors in how Gen Y gets moving. 

On July 21 at 2:00PM EST Karen Jashinsky, Todd Miller and Brendan Morrissey, CEO of Netsertive, will join the SGMA & AFIRM as they host a webinar for their members to reveal additional insights from the 2011 Tracking the Fitness Movement Report and to discuss ways to convert industry trends and inactive American’s into consumers/customers. Click here to learn more and to register for the webinar.

SGMA’s Tracking the Fitness Movement Report (2011 edition), may be obtained at www.sgma.com.  It is available for free for SGMA & AFIRM members. The cost of this report for non-members is $495.

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), The #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry. SGMA helps lead the sports and fitness industries by promoting favorable public policies, fostering participation through research, thought leadership, and product promotion. More information about SGMA membership, SGMA public policy platform, and SGMA’s National Health through Fitness Day can be found at www.sgma.com.

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