The Future of Fitness: A White Paper Research Completed


The Future of Fitness: A White Paper

Lead Author

Suzie Dale , Sue Godinet, Natalie Kearse, Dr Adrian Field


The Nielsen Company & Synergia

Publication Year



Les Mills International




Jodie Fitzgerald
PR and Communications Manager – Les Mills International
+64 9 366 9900




This White Paper – commissioned from The Nielsen Company by Les Mills International and Better by Design – brings together data, expert opinion and informed speculation to form a view of the future of the global fitness industry.

More than a year in the making, this White Paper is the result of a comprehensive literature review, interviews with several dozen thought leaders in the fitness industry and other fields, focus-group sessions and field observation.

A number of challenging key messages arise from this White Paper:

• It is not safe to take for granted that solving the growing health problems of ageing, obesity, heart disease and diabetes will provide a robust future for the fitness industry.

• The current ways of offering ‘fitness’ to consumers face escalating challenges from innovations spanning science, medicine, communications and information technology.

• Within the foreseeable future, the most popular modes of achieving fitness may be almost unrecognizable by today’s standards. This White Paper speculates that tomorrow’s teenagers may laugh when we recall how we used to ‘go to the gym’.

• Even the key contributions of today’s fitness industry – weight control, physical strength, wellness promotion and beauty enhancement – may be whittled away by technologies that provide easier, quicker and cheaper fixes.

Such outcomes may result not only from the social, health, environmental, business, regulatory and technological trends we can see now, but also from three future influences that are converging to shape the fitness industry:

Permanent connection via the internet is transforming how people do business, socialize and, potentially, manage their health and fitness.

Personalization is increasingly required by discerning and demanding consumers, and is being made ever more available by advancing technology.

Convergence, blurring and blending are permanently breaking down and reshaping existing categories of products and services.

This White Paper identifies five fitness niches around which tomorrow’s health clubs and fitness professionals must adapt their education, skills and services. These niches run the gamut from the dark-side scenario of those who say ‘fitness is not for me’ (with the poor health and social outcomes that result) to the ‘superhumans’ that may exist in the post-2030 world.

This White Paper offers no prescriptive solutions. Instead it is put forward as a starting point to explore how the fitness industry can thrive as the very definitions of ‘fitness’, ‘health’, ‘fitness industry’ and ‘health clubs’ change. The definitive map is yet to be written – by all of us.


Keywords: Fitness, health club, fitness industry, gyms, future influences, solutions, innovations




How to access

Areas of Focus

Population Groups

Settings (location)

Provision (delivery type & infrastructure)


Sport and Recreation Types




February 5, 2014

Last Modified

October 31, 2014

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