Virtual Wellness Making Headlines

By | Fitness, Industry, Marketing, Membership, Mission Delivery, Online | No Comments

Recently, Bloomberg Business published an article about innovative cycling company, Peloton. Peloton offers a unique cycling experience that combines a proprietary high-end spin bike with high-quality subscription-based virtual spin classes. This innovative formula has proven to be successful in reaching spin devotees that either don’t have the time or proximity to attend an indoor cycling studio. With just 1/3 the riders of spinning giant SoulCycle, Peloton already boasts 1/2 their profits.

When you add the success of Peloton with other virtual fitness solutions (Wello virtual training, and Daily Burn are a few options) that are on the market, virtual wellness is finding its footing and proving its value. Comprehensive virtual wellness has the power to offer heart pumping benefits as well as well-rounded wellness programs. In fact, Well + Good just named Intensive Fitness programs — i.e. those “which incorporate additional lifestyle elements such as nutrition and health coaching” — as one of the top wellness trends of 2016.

If your health and wellness organization doesn’t already have a comprehensive wellness offering and a way to connect with members in the virtual space, a virtual membership option is a great way to achieve both these goals. To capitalize on the popularity of high-end virtual classes and intensive wellness programs, your virtual offering should have the following:

A Broad Scope – To engage members and help them see the best results, a virtual offering should encompass all possible aspects of wellness. This would include videos, eating plans, nutritional information and as well as recipes and tracking capabilities.

Individualization – Members expect eating plans and workouts tailored to their level of fitness and a program will build and expand as their experience, strength, and motivation get stronger. A virtual offering should also offer a way for members to test their fitness level and track their results to keep them motivated and moving in the right direction.

The Benefits of Running as we Age

By | Engagement, Fitness, Industry | 2 Comments
I recently recommitted to running so I was encouraged to read an article in the New York Times Well Blog, “Run to Stay Young” that suggests running can reverse aging in different and significant ways than walking alone can.
The article describes a small study out of the University of Colorodo in Boulder and Humboldt State University that uncovered that “70-year-old runners had the same walking efficiency as your typical sedentary college student,” while “older walkers…had about the same walking economy as people their same age who were sedentary.” Running into old age may prevent and even reverse some of the typical declines in mobility that happen as we age.
Many feel daunted by the task of taking up running.  You shouldn’t.  According to Runner’s World contributor, Jennifer Van Allen, you’re ready to take up running if you’ve spent at least two weeks walking or doing some other form of cardio exercise on a regular basis.
Remember to start slow. One of the best ways to do this is to add short bursts of running into your walking routine, like intervals. Van Allen recommends starting with 1 minute of running for every 4 minutes of walking and as you get more comfortable gradually increasing the running time and decreasing the walking time.  For more tips on how to get started, view the article.
Here are some ways to motivate yourself to pick up the pace:
  • Use a fitness tracker – I find my fitness tracker is a great way to motivate me for those long runs. When you can get your daily 10,000 steps just from your morning run, then you know your day is off to a good start!
  • Join a social community where you can compete with others for wellness bragging rights.
Walking is still an excellent way to improve your overall health and wellness so if running isn’t an option for you, don’t give up. Just encourage yourself to pick up the pace during your walks or add short bursts of running very gradually.

Responding to the Way Millennials Work Out

By | Engagement, Fitness, Industry | One Comment

An article this year from, 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.

Moving the Needle: The Real Problem with Obesity

By | Engagement, Fitness, Industry, Programs | No Comments

Mike Spezzano leads Daxko T2 Consulting’s Program Leadership and Healthy Living service. His 35-year-career includes 12 years as YMCA of the USA’s National Health and Fitness Consultant where he designed 30 certification courses for the national YMCA movement. He has also appeared as a health and fitness expert nationally in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Men’s Health, and USA Today. Mike works directly with organization staff to develop innovative and effective programs that respond to community needs and keep organizations relevant.

I have long noted that when people talk about the epidemic of obesity, I cringe because they’ve got it all wrong. Obesity is a symptom of behavior: the epidemic is really one of inactivity and unhealthy eating habits. The end result may be “obesity,” although not always. To address this issue one must work with people and help them modify behavior or adopt healthier behaviors one person at a time. So to move the needle, one must first understand what the heck the issue is, and what a desired outcome looks like.

There is so much negativity around the term, “obesity,” and the perception of people who are overweight that we continue to undermine efforts. “Fighting”, “tackling”, and “combating” the issue all come from a negative place. These are people we are talking about, people with feelings and self-esteem who are viewed by society as sick or not normal. I realize the American Medical Association recently classified obesity as a disease, a decision that continues to be hotly debated in health fields. However, consider that the way someone is classified as “obese” is an imprecise and often inaccurate measurement, the Body Mass Index (BMI). Everyone agrees that’s it is flawed, but it’s all we’ve got. A Forbes magazine article on this topic stated “Defining obesity as a disease makes little medical sense, since, rather than judging a person’s health based solely on his/her BMI, a physician needs to examine each patient as an individual, take a detailed history, and assess clinical parameters, such as blood insulin, cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.”

So yes, if an organization were to undertake an initiative to overcome inactivity and unhealthy eating, they would need a sensible system, plan, timetable with methodologies and powerful new tools. Because it’s not something the organization knows how to do, or has done very well. Heck, no one has; all you need to do is look at the state of health in this country. Lifestyle disease abounds and yet we have a “health and fitness” industry still focused on the 15% of the population that would be active and exercise anyway without it.

An organization that wants to make a difference in health in their community would need:
1. A clear, consistent message. One that is about people, not “obesity”
2. A leader who understands this and is passionate about making a difference
3. A team that is fully bought in, with the skills required
4. New, creative programs and methods to help people make the change they desire
5. Tools for data collection, tracking, communication, motivation
6. Community partners to bring expertise, clout, know-how, and funding