We live in a very difficult time where all the advancements we made in quality of life, is also the main reason why our health has declined.

“Quality of life” items like remote controls, cellphones, delivery services, self-driving vehicles etc has actually resulted in us as a society to become less active and because we are in our biological design made to move around, we are at risk. These quality-of-life items have been designed to “save us time”. You can now work while driving, you can order food and groceries instead of preparing it yourself, you don’t even have to get up to change the channel on the TV anymore, you just sit and binge watch something on Netflix for a couple of hours then go on your phone and browse social media for another hour or so before you go to bed.

Ask someone to go and workout 3 or 4 times a week and what is their response? “I don’t have the time…” But we just designed all the wonderful quality of life items to give us more time, so what happened? We replaced that newly available time with social media, we replaced it with binge watching a streaming TV series and playing online games. Obviously, we don’t admit this to people directly but that is exactly what it is. We created the perfect excuse to not doing the required exercise which is essential to living a healthy life because “we don’t have time”.

This is a theory called Argument from ignorance which is the assertion that something is true or false because there is a lack of evidence to the contrary.

Therefor the statement – I don’t have time – is true for any person because there is no evidence that can be produced to argue the fact that the person indeed has the time to work out. 

So, what is the result of this kind of approach and thinking? Simple. In 2016 the WHO organization released a frightful statistic stating that 81% of the global adolescent population was not receiving the recommended amount of physical activity. Of the global adult population 23% was not receiving the correct amount of daily physical activity. 

So, the WHO produced a 4-point action plan to decrease these inactivity statistics by 15% by 2030:

1. Create active societies – This is to create a paradigm shift in society by enhancing their understanding and knowledge as to why it’s important to be physically activity  

2. Create Active environments – This means the creation of safe places where people of allages can receive fair and impartial access to be physically active

3. Create Active people – The creation of opportunities and programs where people of all ages and ability can engage in to be physically active

4. Create Active systems – The strengthening of leadership, governance and partnerships that will improve the mobilization of resources to effectively combat the increase in physical non-activity 

There are 194 member states in the WHO and presently not 1 has been able to implement all four steps effectively or efficiently.

The reason for this is because it requires collaboration from sectors across the entire Health and fitness industry and industries outside of the Health and Fitness scope. But we are unable to unify in our attack of this growing problem which is invisible to almost every person in the world. 

The paradigm shift in the way society approach physical activity has to start with the Health and Fitness industry. If you are in the Health and Fitness Industry you have a responsibility to assist with the increase of physical activity within your community. But our industry is commercially driven. We are competing with ourselves and competing brands for a small % of activated individuals who already are going to the gym, who already know the benefits of being active and are committed to continuing to be active. This is completely against the responsibility we have as an industry. Marketing should be focused on how to communicate effectively with people that are scared to go and work out. This is 90-95% of the population. Its complete ignorance on the side of the person who has these fears, but its our responsibility to communicate efficiently to them that they have no reason to fear the gym. We need to remove the barrier of fear and make the point of entry simple and affordable. But affordable does not mean you need to make it cheap.

The moment you make something cheap the value in that item, be it a car, nutrition or fitness, decreases and if the perceived value of this item decreases, the demand for the item decreases as well. So this notion that exists within the Fitness Industry that “let’s just make our rates cheaper and we will get more people” is having the exact opposite effect. Its not only driving down the perceived value of your product or service, but it has a chain effect where the competition feels it needs to react by lowering their prices and then in the end none of the gyms increase their own footfall or revenue. It’s not only a loss that affects the gym that thought it’s a “good idea” to reduce membership fees, but it’s a loss for the entire industry.

This is not the end of the impact though. It goes further. The gym now maybe has a few more members, but the decrease in yield, more often than not, is not justified by the very small increase in new members, plus your existing base of members now want to pay less as well because they have been loyal when your price was higher. This is a spiraling effect which most gyms struggle to cope with and even more fail to reverse. The result? Replacement of quality staff with staff of lesser knowledge and experience. Why? Because you cannot reduce rent, you now have a slight increase in use of equipment which increases maintenance and the cost of water and electricity and so the only way to reduce cost in relation to the reduction in revenue and yield is to lay off the staff that has the highest salaries because it is the only cost that you can control directly.

The direct impact of this is that the member feels that they are not achieving their goals, that they are not getting the service they want, that facilities are not clean or maintained etc etc etc until they get to the original objection again – I don’t have time.

The only way we combat the growing increase in physical inactivity is if we work together and collaborate effectively and efficiently with a unified approach and mindset. We need to explore new ways to make technology work for us and not against us and be open to new avenues that will allow more people to have access to facilities and locations where they can be active, regardless of their age, ability or capability. 

Success is inevitable 

…if we choose it to be.