Do You Know Your Fitness Age?

By | Engagement, Industry, Membership | No Comments

If we didn’t need another reason to become involved in a fitness routine, a New York Times article recently outlines why our “ fitness age” may be even more important than our chronological age. This article adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests that exercise and movement throughout the day is vitally important to our health.

Norwegian scientists compared individuals’ aerobic capacity (measured by estimating their VO2max) against death records later in life. Those who had not measured well on their estimated aerobic capacity “had an 82 percent higher risk of dying prematurely” than those who scored better on the aerobic capacity measure.

While fitness age may be a concerning idea for many, the good news is that it – unlike chronological age – can be reduced.

Interested in calculating fitness age? The authors of the study at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim have come up with a simple quiz that should pretty accurately tell anyone their fitness age.

This quiz is a fun way to engage members at your organization. It appeals to our newfound love of digital tracking and the idea of the quantified self – that we can track all sorts of biometric data about our bodies typically in order to improve our health. Encourage your clients or members to take this quiz and use it to either pat themselves on the back or to encourage themselves to add a little more exercise into their daily life.

Responding to the Way Millennials Work Out

By | Engagement, Fitness, Industry | One Comment

An article this year from MillennialMarketing.com, talks about the unique ways the millennial generation views their workouts. As a millennial fitness junkie myself, I can relate; it’s no longer simply about heading to the gym to do a few bicep curls. The millennial workout is more connected and more experiential than ever before.

What makes the millennial workout different?

Millennials, more than any other generation, value meaning and experience in their fitness routine. The number of “experience” races has exploded as millennials now have the spending power to attend these types of events on a regular basis. Obstacle runs (Tough Mudder, Spartan), color runs (The Color Run, Color Me Rad), and even blacklight runs are everywhere. The reason? We want to combine our fitness routine with an experience that will last forever.

Millennials are connected. The growth of fitness wearable devices and fitness-related apps speaks to this trend. Sharing fitness progress and even the types of activities is motivating and says something about who we are. We’ve grown up with social media and we feel comfortable, even energized by sharing our fitness activities online.

Millennials value quick workouts. Heard of T25? It’s a new workout from the makers of Insanity. It takes an intense workout and condenses it into fast paced 25 minutes. Les Mills is in the action with a quick HIIT workout series, Grit. CrossFit workouts are often over in less than 30 intense minutes. Why? Millennials want the same results but don’t want to spend forever in a gym. We are connected at all times to so many things (our work and our families to name a few) that quick routines are extremely important.

What does this mean for member-based nonprofits like YMCAs, JCCs and community centers?

Think about what you can do to facilitate these trends. Can you offer smaller, more intense group exercise classes to mimic the feel of an elite training gym? Can you help your members stay connected to your facility whether they are working out on a treadmill or training outside for an obstacle race? If your members can track their progress both inside and outside your facility with a wellness engagement app, it goes a long way towards keeping them engaged with your association.

Finally, work to help your members understand the mission of your organization. Working out at a YMCA or JCC is a way to connect with the community on a bigger level. Connecting millennials to the greater nonprofit mission is a way to foster the sense of meaning millennials crave in their fitness routine.

Time Magazine: Exercise Doesn’t Help You Lose Weight

By | Culture, Healthy Stuff | No Comments

Weight Loss has long been thought to be a calories in, calories out type of thing that was aided by exercise.  Now, Time Magazine’s throwing one of those cover articles out (titled, “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin”) that’s sure to make a lot of people say “A-HA!!!”

More from the Time article:

“In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless,” says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher. Many recent studies have found that exercise isn’t as important in helping people lose weight as you hear so regularly in gym advertisements or on shows like The Biggest Loser — or, for that matter, from magazines like this one.

The basic problem is that while it’s true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn’t necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

Earlier this year, the peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE — PLoS is the nonprofit Public Library of Science — published a remarkable study supervised by a colleague of Ravussin’s, Dr. Timothy Church, who holds the rather grand title of chair in health wisdom at LSU. Church’s team randomly assigned into four groups 464 overweight women who didn’t regularly exercise. Women in three of the groups were asked to work out with a personal trainer for 72 min., 136 min., and 194 min. per week, respectively, for six months. Women in the fourth cluster, the control group, were told to maintain their usual physical-activity routines. All the women were asked not to change their dietary habits and to fill out monthly medical-symptom questionnaires.

The findings were surprising. On average, the women in all the groups, even the control group, lost weight, but the women who exercised — sweating it out with a trainer several days a week for six months — did not lose significantly more weight than the control subjects did. (The control-group women may have lost weight because they were filling out those regular health forms, which may have prompted them to consume fewer doughnuts.) Some of the women in each of the four groups actually gained weight, some more than 10 lb. each.

What’s going on here? Church calls it compensation, but you and I might know it as the lip-licking anticipation of perfectly salted, golden-brown French fries after a hard trip to the gym. Whether because exercise made them hungry or because they wanted to reward themselves (or both), most of the women who exercised ate more than they did before they started the experiment. Or they compensated in another way, by moving around a lot less than usual after they got home.”

The article’s a good read, so give it a run.  The problem with mass media articles like this is that they tend to not change anything, with the exception of making those avoiding exercise feel emboldened like they are somehow doing the right thing.  I haven’t been exercising, but guess what?  Time ran that big article that said exercise doesn’t work – so there’s no reason for me to start.

Meanwhile, regardless of the reality regarding exercise’s impact on weight loss, that same group gets none of the other positive impacts of exercise in their daily lives.

Worse yet, their kids grow up with no exposure to exercise as a part of a healthy lifestyle.

Thanks Time…