Why is fitness trending towards the slow workout?

by Ryan Wagner

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