The health and wellness industry is worth nearly $30 billion dollars and does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. But why is this market such a large one? Part of it is due to the rapid innovation of classes, races, diets, and wearables that have been flooding the market. Others point to the 20% of adults in the United States that regularly go to the gym. Still, others chalk it up to a cultural shift. Not sure what the cause is? Here are four potential reasons for the explosion of money and interest in the world of wellness.
The costs associated with health insurance is chief on this list, and for a reason. Healthcare providers have known for years that healthy individuals are much cheaper to protect, and companies are starting to take advantage of this discovery. Employers have been promoting healthy living as a way of lowering health care costs by subsidizing gym memberships, selling fitness trackers and eliminating unhealthy options from any on-campus dining locations. One example of this cost-driven model is WeWork’s drive to remove meat, and especially red meat, from all company meals and reimbursements. This move will reduce their environmental impact while also helping them encourage healthy eating habits among employees.
Fad Diets and Healthy Eating
A newly-piqued interest in healthy eating takes the second spot on this list. The days of 1950s TV dinners are over, and in are the desires for organic, not processed foods. The switch comes as an increasing number of Americans are becoming more and more aware of where their food comes from. Some of the interest comes in the wake of a handful of documentaries, like Food, Inc., that expose the underbelly of the food processing industry.
Gadgets like the Garmin, Fitbit, Apple Watch, and even a large number of the cell phones we bear throughout the day, are putting customized biometric insights at many individuals’ fingertips. The capacity for individuals to perceive how many steps they are taking in a day, the calories they consume, what their pulse is, or what their current heart rate is. These insights are making them more aware of how their body works, and steps they can take to be healthier. It’s often the first step in getting a gym membership or other substantial investment. Even life insurances companies are getting in on this one: John Hancock, a life insurance giant, announced that they would invest in tracking the wellness of their clients through their wearables and cell phones.
New Gym, New You
Two new types of gyms have emerged as the driving forces of the industry: one on each side of the financial spectrum. On the lower end, you have ‘high esteem, low value’ gyms, where the fee for basic membership is 10 or 20 dollars a month, with patrons who pay a few more bucks a month having access to different gym equipment, saunas, massage therapy, or different hours. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got the fancy new boutique gyms, which offer the hot new fitness classes everyone is tweeting about. Gone are the days of the YMCAs, and in are the days of gyms catered to meet the needs of a few, and in are the days of the Planet Fitness and SoulCycle gyms on opposite sides of town.