Fitness businessFitness trends

Why is fitness trending towards the slow workout?

Something interesting has been happening in the fitness world over the past couple of years: there has been more of an interest in slowing things down. In other words, the high-intensity workout may be giving way to the the slow workout.

In other words, thoughtful alternatives to popular high-intensity and uber-competitive workouts are sprouting up all over fit urban centers and inspiring devoted fans. These programs are emphasizing mindfulness over reps, enjoyment over sweat, and togetherness over declared winners.

I’ll show you what I mean.

From time to time, I like to play around with Google Trends. If you’re not familiar with how it works, it shows how often a particular search-term is entered relative to the total search-volume across various regions of the world. In other words, it will tell you how many people are curious about whatever keyword you’re wondering about.

While I don’t think that looking at Google Trends will provide a comprehensive snapshot of a trend’s market share, I do feel like it can offer a very practical look at a trend’s popularity, and even future popularity.

So, to start things off, let’s take a look at that very popular high-intensity workout, Crossfit.

When I punch in the keyword on Google Trends and let the process churn, the resulting chart shows a slow decline on the now 18-year-old franchise.

[Topic: crossfit, past 5 years]

However, high-intensity interval training as a whole is a different story. It is still trending upwards and has captured attention over the past five years.

[Topic: high-intensity interval training, past 5 years]

The popularity of fitness concepts like SoulCycle and Orange Theory Fitness provide further evidence that high-intensity training is here to stay, as for a few more years.

But what about the other, slower, fitness trends out there? How do the slow workouts stack up through the perspective of Google Trends?

Yoga, as you might imagine is steady as a rock, as it has been for decades now. But yoga’s not too distant cousin — mediation — has been slowly gaining traction.

[Topic: meditation, past 5 years]

So, what does the future hold then? HIIT and meditation are trending upwards? What does that mean?!

I think that what we will begin to see is a polarization of contemporary fitness between the high-intensity-sweat-sweat-sweat workouts and the slower and less competitive varieties.

I suppose that here with Motus, we fit someplace in the middle. It’s not entirely the slow workout, but it’s certainly not a high-intensity and highly competitive approach.

Regardless, I think that there’s no better time for fitness entrepreneurs to offer up their slowed down approach than right now. In preceding years, I feel like a lot of great concepts just never made it to fruition because the creators were worried that if it didn’t have enough high-intensity programming built in, that it wouldn’t be relevant.

But things are changing.

There are even a handful of studios that specialize in just meditation. There’s an emerging Lululemon competitor called Outdoor Voices, whose manifesto aspires to build “…a community of exercisers who approach activity with ease, humor and delight.”

This mindset at Outdoor Voices does a nice job of capturing the collective disposition of many millennials as they settle into their 30’s: that they want to slow down, but just a little.

Our hyper-intense lives spent on our phones — jumping from text message to snap to Instagram and back again to texting — is a tremendous amount to juggle. And I think that the last thing many of us want is to deal with more of the same at the gym!

Therefore, meditation and “ease” with our fitness are two themes that I think will only grow in the coming five to seven years.

And I think that what we’re seeing is just the beginning.

Yet looking at all these trends sometimes deflects attention from perhaps the bigger issue: the nation’s obesity epidemic, which continues to grow no matter what cult-like fitness trending is hot right now in urban areas.

But I think that if any trendy fitness concept can begin to chip away at the obesity problem, it’s probably a slower (i.e. less intimidating) style of fitness.

What are your thoughts on the slow workout emerging trend?

Would you give up your HIIT routine for something a little slower? Why or why not?

Why is fitness trending towards the slow workout? by

2 thoughts on “Why is fitness trending towards the slow workout?

  1. > What are your thoughts on the slow workout emerging trend?

    It will peak about 36 months after the first “box”/”store front” opens that caters to it.

    > Would you give up your HIIT routine for something a little slower? Why or why not?

    I already do a mix of HIIT, traditional lifting, aerobic conditioning and ‘low and slow’. You have to train for what you’re training for not to some trend.

    > Why is fitness trending towards the slow workout?

    Because there’s a brazilian Crossfit “boxes” out there (market saturation), you have Orange Theory and whatever showing up all over the place and every half-wit fitness preacher is on YouTube pushing whatever they think will get them eyeballs and clients.

    Marketers going to market, they’re going to try to get eyeballs on glass and butts through the door, it’s what they do.

    I have no idea what “slow fitness” is exactly, but I see a lot of it in the gym–80 year old guys on the rowing machine pulling maybe 60 watts. Grandmas on the ellipticals spinning against almost no resistance, overweight moms doing curls and overhead presses with 10 pound dumbbells.

    Hey, but at least they’re *there* doing something, right? Burning calories and using your muscles is better than not. And no, that sentence was neither written as sarcasm nor intended to be. I may grump because the geriatrics take up pool time when I want to do my laps, but at least they are doing something.

    As above I have no idea what “Slow Fitness” is, so this could be totally missing it.

    If it’s just people moving *more*, but maybe not pushing themselves to move their discomfort thresholds, then it’s probably better for them than *not doing anything*. Which is a hell of a slogan “The Slow Workout, it’s not awesome but it’s better than nothing”.

    > But I think that if any trendy fitness concept can begin to chip away at the obesity problem,
    > it’s probably a slower (i.e. less intimidating) style of fitness.

    Exercise will *never* chip away at the obesity problem for the “general population”. Losing weight means discomfort, and the faster you do it the more discomfort–whether from exercise or caloric reduction.

    And people HATE to be uncomfortable.

    I’m a big proponent of exercise, and I think it’s REALLY important across a range of outcomes from optimizing your brain function to keeping your heart healthy to being able to get you and your office mates down 15 flights of stairs when there’s a fire and the elevators are shut down, to surviving lots of random bad things that happen in life.

    But to use exercise to lose weight requires a level of discomfort tolerance that would be *more efficiently* used to just not shove so much stuff in your mouth–if your only goal is smaller pants.

    Because of injuries, an utter lack of self-discipline, a wife and daughter who like to bake, I have cause to lose about 40 pounds (this will put me at about 12-15 percent body fat assuming some muscle gain. I have lost ~9 pounds since the 2nd of January using a mix of exercise (of various kinds) and just no putting some much in my mouth. Heck, I’m hungry right now and going to go to the gym as soon as I commit this comment.

    To actively lose weight using exercise you really need to burn about 400 calories a day more than you take in–part of this is that it’s really hard to accurately measure both calorie intake and use, your body will compensate a little for extra workouts (you wind up being more “settled” after a workout than if you didn’t). And finally you can lose weight if you burn less, but at around 400 calories a day you’re going to lose one pound of fat roughly every 30 days, or 3 pounds a month (fudging a bit here, as extra precision is lost in the diversity of results). You have to burn this much to “see” results and not get discouraged. If you burn less your loss gets mixed in with the daily up and downs and you don’t “see” it unless you’re measuring and plotting VERY closely.

    So we’re looking at burning ~400 calories in a workout every day, or 800 every other day. This isn’t all that hard if you’ve got 2 hours to work out, but if you’re trying to get up from your desk, get to the gym, work that s*t and get back during your “lunch hour”. That would be for most peoplebut it’s *uncomfortable* because you’re going to have to spend most of that with your heart rate at 80%+ of your HRM. IMO you should do it routinely, but mostly because being uncomfortable is good for your constitution.

    Swapping sweetened drinks for unsweetened “nets” most people those same 300 calories with only the discomfort of getting used to unsweetened drinks (which will also pay dividends by resetting your bodies notion of what “sweet” is).

    The best way to lose weight is to correct your diet–note not “go on a diet”, but move towards eating more vegetables, nuts, meats and a little fruit and less cake, pie, grains and pastas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.