I’ve had a bee in my bonnet for a while about what I see as the broad perception among the health, diet and fitness profession that being fit & healthy = going to the gym.
Apart from the super fit fitness fans and some of my Dad’s 60+ mates (who seem to use the gym as a pub type social club with exercise as a minor added bonus), I don’t know many people who actually enjoy going to the gym. Which seems to me to be the problem.
If you enjoy something, you’ll keep doing it. You’ll make an effort even when you’re tired, or busy, or it’s raining sideways. But if you don’t really enjoy it you’ll go less frequently and eventually stop – witness the massive influx of new members to gyms every January who quickly drop off again – the first year gym membership drop out rate has been variously estimated from 30-40% (The Independent) to 60-70% (The Mail).
We do seem to be gradually shifting from a ‘diet and lose weight quickly’ message to a ‘lifetime of healthy eating habits’ approach, but apart from a bit of Change 4 Life 150 active minutes messaging the Powers That Be don’t seem to have addressed the issue of finding exercise activities that people actually enjoy and will keep up.
Thanks to regular horse riding (some of it side saddle) I’m fairly fit (and halfway to a six pack) yet I haven’t darkened the doors of a gym in ten years. I keep at it because I really enjoy it. It was the same with most of the older ladies I used to meet at my tap dancing class who turned out once a week without fail for a giggle and a dance.
You have to find something you love. It might be the gym, but it equally might be swimming, jogging, canoeing, hill walking, bellydancing or mountain biking.
With Change 4 Life funding unfrozen, it feels like now would be a great time for a ‘try something new (and keep it up)’ campaign from them. Or maybe this is an opportunity for a brand to step up and claim the territory (and moral high ground). Nestle did ‘Get Set Go Free’ last year but that talked about trial, not lifestyle.
I really think there’s an opportunity here – or has someone just done this and I’ve missed it?