Take Off the Headphones
Last week, I was asked by a local journalist doing a story about recent fitness trends for 2018 what my thoughts were about the state of the industry, how things are changing, and where things might be headed. It provided me a great opportunity to reflect on my own personal fitness journey and how it eventually lead to opening Synergy: A Fitness Community here in Suwanee.
Answering her question was actually quite easy for me – as it lay in the very foundation of my core beliefs around fitness…and to a great extent…human nature. The number one trend I have seen growing in our industry is the mass movement away from the isolated workout experience in “big-box” fitness centers and into the boutique micro-gyms offering group training with a social and communal feel. But why do I think this is the case?
I was introduced to the gym scene, and began working out on a consistent basis, about the same time as the launch of the very first iPod. As silly as it may sound, I actually think that small little invention has had a tremendous impact on shaping the fitness industry over the last 15-20 years.
Once people were able to workout with their favorite music in their ears, they couldn’t get enough of it.
Eventually, tech companies began adding more fitness technology to these devices – wearable armbands for running, step counters, coaching apps, and now even watches with built in HR monitors.
…Scan our Check-in cards, pop our earbuds in, and escape into an hour of lonely isolation.
But what I think people failed to realize is that this completely changed the way we as humans interact with the gym. Immediately, we began isolating ourselves. We would walk into a gym where no one even knows our name, scan our check-in card, pop our earbuds in, and escape into an hour of lonely isolation with nothing but a reflection of ourselves in the mirror behind the dumbbells in front of us.
Fast forward 15 years later, and our society is the fattest, unhealthiest, loneliest it has ever been. We spend more time talking to people with our thumbs than we do with our mouths. We engage with people’s lives through a screen instead of a backyard BBQ. We have hundreds of friends on social media but zero we could call when we really need someone to talk to. We spend more time in isolation than ever before. And it really sucks.
You see deep down, I believe humans, even the most introverted among us, are designed to be relational creatures. It really doesn’t matter the activity –
Anything that we do to better ourselves is done better, and enjoyed more, when it’s done together
Interactive seminars and classroom environments almost always yield greater learning than simply reading the material alone at home. Concerts and movies are always more fun with others than by oneself. Ask any person that engages in a form of corporate worship if they could have the same experience at home watching it on TV. And have you ever tried going out to a nice dinner by yourself? It sucks.
So why should fitness be any different? It might have taken us 15 years to figure it out, but I think we are getting there. To me, it’s a lot less about what style of fitness you are pursuing and a lot more about how you are doing it and who you are doing it with. CrossFit, Bootcamps, HIIT, Yoga, Cycling…they might all be different in their approaches to accomplishing different fitness goals, but they all “work” in that they get you moving – something we all need more of. But the most successful examples above, I believe, aren’t simply successful because of the style of fitness product they are, but because they are done on a micro-gym level with a community of others
So why should fitness be any different?
At Synergy, here in the John’s Creek, South Forsyth area, our goal from day 1 has always been to be much more than just a place where people come to do pullups, squats, and rowing.
Know why we don’t have mirrors on our walls?
Because we want people to spend less time looking at themselves and more time engaging with others. We want this place to be a crossroads where people’s fitness, athletic, family, social, professional, or even spiritual lives might intersect. When that happens successfully, a micro-gym becomes much more than a gym, it truly becomes a community.
Does it often mean that these small boutique gyms have a higher price point, a few less TVs on the wall, and no hot tubs or saunas to relax in after your workout? More than likely. But it’s a small price to pay for a service where people actually care about you, know your name, your kids names, and are there to encourage you every step of the way, whether it’s inside or even outside of the gym. It’s product is of being less isolated and more human. And guess what – you’ll happen to get in much better shape along the way as well.
It’s a small price to pay for a service where people actually care about you, know your name, your kids names and are there to encourage you …
I honestly think one of my favorite things about leading a community like Synergy is that I get to be a daily consumer of my own product. I get to be coached by my coaches, train alongside my friends, and enjoy the same life-impacting community that each of our members does. In short, this place and these people make me a better version of me. I don’t think I would have ever found that somewhere else with my headphones on.
Fitness, my friends, should never be a lonely endeavor.