Saturday, 7 April 2012

Let's get  physical

Yeah, you're busier than ever. Yeah, your money is tighter than ever. But, no, it's not stopping you from staying in shape. Or at least trying to. These days, more and more folks are pursuing easy, inexpensive ways to work out--and, in the process, they're powering a boom in the fitness sector.
The stats are impressive. Fitness clubs and health stores are now a $41.4 billion industry--muscling up $1 billion from a year ago. Gym memberships have increased steadily throughout the recession--of the 45.3 million health club members, more than 10 million of them joined in 2009, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association.
Fitness buffs are turning to programs and products that can be used anywhere, anytime. Clubs like Anytime Fitness are offering members low-cost dues ($25 to $35 a month) and anytime key access. Members get the benefits of a home gym without the sweaty companions.
Small-group personal training will thrive in 2011, says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. When two to six people share one trainer, it can cut the price of a session by a third.
As people continue to spend cautiously, working out at home becomes more popular, too. The quality and variety of options has improved greatly in recent years, he says. "As Seen on TV" products are leading this explosion--home fitness was the top-selling infomercial category in 2010, according to InfoWorx, an infomercial production company in Boca Raton, Fla.
And the recent onslaught of low-cost iPhone fitness apps like iFitness and iWeight Deluxe adds to the ease of staying healthy away from the gym.
For those who simply can't dedicate blocks of time for hitting the weights and those cardio machines, more companies are releasing products to help people, ah, squeeze a little fitness into everyday activity. Butt-sculpting shoes, anyone? --K.O.