Health and wellbeing have become ingrained into our daily lives.
In a nutshell
- Millennials are driving the cultural transformation towards health, wellbeing and balance.
- Millennials have heightened the social aspects of their sports and fitness endeavours and lowered those around competitiveness and winning.
- Millennial's enthusiasm for experiences translates into the wellbeing industry, with the rise of fitness festivals and events.
Yoga pants are the new jeans, Fitbit is the new watch, and strong is the new sexy. Health is a status symbol which connotes quality of life and the education, money and time to spend looking after yourself.
Millennials have been at the helm of much of the popular transformation we see in modern health and wellbeing. While the 80’s were about money, aerobics and diets, there has been a distinct shift recently to values of paring back, mindfulness and equanimity.
Less talked about are elements of community, socialising and experientialism in contemporary health, fitness and wellbeing practices. These are offerings to which millennials are flocking.
Saying goodbye to competition
As millennials have grown up, so has the professionalisation of sports. The ability to gain incredible wealth and fame through high performance has altered how sports are approached at the school and community level, and experts have noted that the focus on high performance is creating a rift that (together with the many other recreational alternatives at hand today) is driving younger athletes away.
Many of us exist happily outside the elite athlete tier, and millennials have heightened the social aspects of their sports and fitness endeavours and lowered those around competitiveness and winning, making pure enjoyment and accomplishment as a team a huge drawcard. What’s important is that they took part, not how fast they went.
That’s not to say the desire for individual progress doesn’t exist, but the motivation is intrinsic rather than extrinsic – more about quiet, personal goals (meeting the step quota on my Fitbit) than about loud recognition.
It has also been suggested that millennials’ parents, the most hands-on parenting generation ever, praised and protected their children so much, that millennials have difficulty facing failure, and choose to turn away from competitive elements.
“Socialising is super important to me. It makes me feel so much better and more in touch with my friends and family.” – TRA’s The Listening Project: Millennials
Tough Mudder, an extreme obstacle course that involves mud, pools of ice, and even electric shocks, operates under the overarching principles of teamwork and overcoming fears. Neither individual nor team times are posted; the onus is on finishing. 95% of people enter as part of a team and in five years it has grown into a US$100 million business.
Likewise, The November Project, a three morning a week free Boston-based running club insists that their members hug on arrival, as hugs function as equalisers and icebreakers. Workouts are not segregated by ability, like traditional running clubs. The November Project grew from two guys in Boston to multiple states in just three years. They build community through verbal accountability (encouraging and motivating words) and social media – a life beyond the workout. Boston numbers rarely drop under one hundred on any morning and communications take place solely through social media.