At what point in time did it become justifiable to spend £20 on an hour of samba infused dance spinning in an underground “rave” after work? Why is everyone suddenly referring to their “training” plan, are you competing at the Rio Olympics? And I hold my hands up, I did take a personal trainer video of myself doing lunges and squats and put some upbeat music behind it and posted it on my Instagram and hashtagged fitness, and thinking back, what motivated me to do that? Now not having a nutribullet cup on your desk in the morning is the un-norm, and fast-food is a laughable phenomenon. You can wear your Free Runners to the pub, but your Airmaxes are so last season. It appears in London we have been submersed into an explosive new sports culture and social sharing fitness obsession.
My first conclusion is that the landscape and transport system in London makes you fit, and the people here are competitive. The city is technically a hub of smart, driven, beautiful people, who want to be successful and get rich. Londoners walk an average of 2.2 miles a day, barely anyone has a car, and they care a lot about their image. Unlike many other areas of the UK, there is no driving culture, and obesity rates are lower. I have never seen an obese person on the tube, have you? No one is obese in my office, or any office I have ever worked in. With the rise of online dating and networking, people are more concerned about their body, and it is now the norm to take an hour out of your working day to work out. I am the number 1 culprit as I get up at 6am 4 days a week to run around Hyde Park. I often think when my 5.55am alarm goes off and I shine my Snapchat story light in my face in an attempt to wake up and laugh at unemployed drunk people, is this weird? But then if I didn’t go, I would feel the guilt, as everyone on my team is up spinning and gyming and boxing. I simply must run.
To enhance this competitive nature, social media now runs the world. My social streams are filled with athletes, sports brands, personal trainers, body builders and naked beach models. So is it motivation or intimidation? For me, seeing Active Beach Escapes bikini 10k morning run along Bali beach is a motivation to get your fat ass off the sofa #bodgoals #summerbod #eatingclean. And social media has made fitness trendy. It is now socially acceptable to send a Snapchat of a sweaty selfie. It’s cool to Instagram a picture of the boutique gym class you are being ripped off by, your protein shake, or your new LuLu Lemon sports bra. People “like” it when you Map your run on Facebook. 10 years ago would you post a Bebo status about doing an 11k run? Would you upload a picture of your post-work out Avocado meal? Would you pay £70 to download an Australian woman’s “fitness plan” that involves jumping up and down on the spot…times really have changed.
Compounding all of these landscape and social aspects of the 2016 fitness obsession, is the change in the gym market’s offerings. 2015 saw the rise of low cost budget gyms such as Pure Gym and Easy Gym. No staff, all the basic equipment and 24 hours. However in 2016, Boutique fitness clubs have swept over London, as both the city slaves and yummy mummies are increasingly looking for new and exciting ways to work out. And they have the cash to do it. Rebel1, Kobox, Barry’s Boot Camp and Soul Cycle are charging up to £250 a month for intense, instructor led, ever changing bizarre and “trendy” workouts. These new high-end gyms, offer a complete end-to-end gym service. You are given spinning shoes, there is Molton Brown soap in the showers and you can pre-order your protein shake on the way out. These new gyms have created fitness tribes, with strong social bonds and online communities that share and shout about their exercise regime. People pay for the “atmosphere” and want to be associated with the concept of a boutique health studio. Maybe in 2017 we will go to gymnastics training in our lunch breaks, and underwater swimming classes in the Thames in the evenings.
There is strength in variety with fitness, and working out is no longer a straightforward activity. Fitness is now a personalised fun experience, and working out could even be the new going out. Well, not just yet.