Feature Article - November 2015
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A Wider Field for Fitness

New Trends Expand the Reach of Fitness Equipment

By Deborah L. Vence


Active Aging

As baby boomers continue to retire and the aging population realizes that mobility is the key to a happy, healthy lifestyle, there is more interest than ever in active aging fitness.

"It's a very diverse group of people, and not the stereotypical, easy-to-identify demographic it may have been in years past," Spencer said.

"Active aging today means everything from seniors who are just beginning their fitness journey to uber-fit marathoner-types who want to remain very active, but are perhaps looking for different ways to continue their active lifestyle. We have had to do a lot of research and development to ensure that we could design fitness areas that meet the range of abilities and activity that define today's active aging population," she said.

"One thing that is a constant across the whole group is the focus on balance and flexibility, an element that is often overlooked in outdoor fitness areas, but is one of primary concern to people who want to ensure that they grow or maintain balance and flexibility to help prevent injury and inadvertent falls as well as keep up with young family members and maintain a strong quality of life," Spencer added.

As baby boomers continue to retire and the aging population realizes that mobility is the key to a happy, healthy lifestyle, there is more interest than ever in active aging fitness.

Of the growing fitness trends, developing fitness programs for older adults was one of the top six. (Other trends that are growing in popularity are high intensity interval training, strength training, CrossFit, functional training and circuit training), Albaum noted.

"With the aging baby boomer population, many fitness companies are looking for ways to meet their needs (e.g., lower-impact exercise classes, equipment designed to reduce impact on joints while still providing an effective workout)," he said.

Coscia said as baby boomers begin to enter the active aging market, their prevalence in the market will be an interesting cause-and-effect relationship to watch.

"For most manufacturers, the active-aging market has been on their minds, though only a limited few are designing equipment centered around programming to meet the health, fitness and wellness needs of an aging (active) population," she said.

"We have worked with hundreds of active aging communities in the U.S. to install gym solutions to suit their particular needs," she added. "We customize solutions to be non-intimidating and easy to use, designed to promote everything from cardiovascular to strength training, mobility and flexibility, and even cognitive and balance training for the aging population."

Morelli agreed that active aging is an emerging market since the baby boomer population is staying active and healthy longer.

Among the leading trends for fitness equipment for the active aging population are easy-to-use technology and comfortable design.

"For instance," Morelli said, "our customers often tell us that recumbent bikes are primarily valued by their active aging exercisers. Our design team develops these bikes with easy-access step-through designs for safe entry and exit, as well as models with enhanced back and arm support."