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SGMA Report Tracks Fitness Trends

Those who want to find a culprit for the obesity epidemic can cross social networking off the list of suspects. According to a recent study released by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers of America, social networking and Generation Y’s focus on technology might be having a dramatically different impact on America’s fitness patterns than many assume. Rather than locking young people into an inactive lifestyle, social media may be driving the younger generation into new forms of fitness activities.

In its report, 2011 Tracking the Fitness Movement, the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) and its affiliate, Association of Fitness Industry Retailers and Manufacturers (AFIRM), note some interesting facts:

  • Highlighting Gen Y’s (those born between 1980 and 1999) physical fitness trend is the growing interest in group exercise. High impact aerobics, step aerobics and group stationary cycling activities have all increased more than 20% in participation within the past three years. “Generation Y is probably in closer communication with its peers than any other group in history,” said SGMA’s President & CEO Tom Cove. “People in their early 20s to early 30s are using social media on all levels and at all times. One of the by-products of this steady communication is the surge in popularity of group exercise classes among Generation Y. Group cycling, step aerobics and dance to music classes are all very popular with Gen Y.”

  • Another trend uncovered by the data suggests increased use of fitness electronics in Americans’ everyday routines, making it easier to work out if one is electronically up to date. “Small fitness accessories and hand-held devices are highly motivational because they allow people to challenge their peers to see who burns the most calories in class.” said Jeff Padovan, former President of Polar, a fitness technology company.

  • The shift toward group exercise is a key trend this year, and although somewhat contradicting that this group is expected to be the most isolated due to excessive iPod and smartphone use, it seems to have had the opposite effect. They commented on how this group thinks about fitness and the ways in which they become motivated. Todd Miller, an Associate Professor of Exercise Science at George Washington University, noted, “It’s very important and clubs have to be good at getting their brands on social networking sites… Companies can use Facebook to target a demographic or a specific type of person.”

SGMA’s Tracking the Fitness Movement Report (2011 edition), may be obtained at Other reports available are Sports and Fitness Participation Topline Report (April 2011), State of the Industry Report (May 2011), Manufacturer's Sales by Category Report (May 2011) and U.S. Trends in Team Sports Report (July 2011). Many reports are available free to SGMA & AFIRM members. Other reports are available at a cost.   

© 2011 American Sports Builders Association 

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