Fitness trends evolve, keep people active

Story image for Fitness from Omaha World-Herald

Boutique fitness studios, CrossFit and FitBits are as popular today as Jane Fonda, the ThighMaster and Tae Bo were in the 1980s and 90s.

Roughly 20 percent of the $30 billion health club industry are boutique fitness concepts, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. Those studios specialize in everything from boot camps to dance classes to indoor cycling.

The CrossFit brand, meanwhile, is an industry of its own, annually bringing in roughly $4 billion worldwide. FitBit, which looks like a watch and tracks steps taken, earned revenues of $2.17 billion worldwide for fiscal year 2016, the company reported.

Every so often, a fitness movement comes along that gets people pumped up in the seemingly never-ending quest to lose weight and get in shape. Thirty years ago, it was workout videos or devices that now seem weird. Today, it’s specialty workout classes and tech-minded fitness.

Why do people need to jump onto whatever is trendy to get motivated? And, with a recent University of Washington study estimating that more than 107 million children and 603 million adults are obese — is it working?

Hopefully, said Julie Cobos, supervisor of clinical fitness at Lakeside Hospital in west Omaha. Trends come and go, but the desire remains.

“This is nothing new,” she said. “It’s whatever new thing people are seeing, the marketing and the visibility. Everyone wants to look good and see results.”

But while some fitness crazes end up being short-term fads (anyone remember “Buns of Steel”?), others appear to have staying power, perhaps because they can work. They also can inspire people to push themselves harder than they thought they could, subsequently changing their lives.

“We gained nearly 70 members our first year in business and have nearly 150 adult members after being in business for three-plus years,” said James Kuna, co-owner of CrossFit Viral near 165th Street and West Maple Road. “We have all levels of participants, from elementary-school kids to young college-aged athletes to middle-aged soccer moms to 60-plus year-olds looking to restore some physical function.”

Advocates believe CrossFit is unlikely to go the way of pole dancing fitness classes.

CrossFit in particular has become arguably the biggest fitness trend in the world, with more than 4 million devotees at 13,000 gyms in 120 countries, according to its website.

Individuals of all fitness levels can take part. Professional CrossFit athletes compete at the national CrossFit Games every year. Elite athletes and regular folks can exercise at their local gyms and get really, really good at it.

People who go to CrossFit are told what workout to do every day, and since they can spend a lot of money on it, they can be more motivated to show up.

“Many people simply need accountability as it pertains to physical fitness,” Kuna said. “If they spend X amount of dollars on a personal trainer, there is someone expecting them at the gym every week. When they might otherwise find a reason to not go to the gym, they now have both a personal and monetary commitment to someone to show up.”


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