Athleisure — yoga pants, hoodies and other fashionable activewear — is making big moves in the marketplace.
This sporty attire is considered exercise-worthy yet stylish enough to transition to life outside the fitness center. And its popularity is showing no signs of slowing down. According to MarketWatch, the global market growth for athleisure is expected to reach $567 billion by 2024.1
“Wearing” wellness vs. living it
Certainly, comfortable — even fashionable — workout clothes can help motivate activity.
But there may be another, less inspiring side of the athleisure trend. Here’s what I mean: There’s a sociological theory called “symbolic interaction,” which is when we use props, such as clothing or cars, as symbols to communicate who we are and how we live in our social circles.
Could athleisure be a symbol of “wellness”? Does it let us associate ourselves with fitness and athleticism — without actually being active? Since athleisure helps people look and feel like they’re healthy, wearers may not recognize that they need to exercise or lose weight.
Research seems to bear this out: Nearly 80% of adults don’t meet key guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity.2 And adults now spend almost half their waking hours every day being sedentary. 3
In other words, we may look the part without (literally) walking the walk.
On-site fitness works for sweat suits and business suits
On-site fitness services are one way to make sure athleisure doesn’t replace real activity. In small ways, with small steps, these services can introduce fitness methods that help:
- Lower health risks
- Strengthen bones and muscles
- Improve mental health and well-being
- Increase the chance to live longer, healthier lives
The biggest mission of an on-site fitness professional is to build trusted relationships with employees. They meet each employee right where they are — whether that’s in a one-on-one session or a classroom setting.
These professionals also know time is a precious commodity, so they’re strategic about making fitness part of the day. One way they do that is to assure employees they can even wear work clothes for certain activities, such as walking during breaks or stretches at their desks.
For instance, an on-site fitness team recently worked with a call center by having the employees leave their stations for a five-minute session in a nearby hallway. Simple moves and gentle stretches were an effective way to get workers out of their chairs, boost energy and fight fatigue.
Just a few of the on-site fitness services that can lead employees toward healthier living include:
- Proprietary classes. Some even work the heart without working up a sweat.
- Group fitness classes. These sessions help release tension and get employees moving.
- Creative fitness solutions. No fitness center? No problem. These talented fitness professionals can leverage any available space.
An on-site fitness professional tailors the right fit for your employees and can inspire a more active lifestyle — no athleisure needed. After all, fitness is always in fashion.
To learn more, visit optum.com.
1 The Global Activewear Market size is expected to reach $567 billion by 2024. MarketWatch. marketwatch.com/press-release/the-global-activewear-market-size-is-expected-to-reach-567-billion-by-2024-rising-at-a-market-growth-of-68-cagr-during-the-forecast-period-2018-08-22. Published August 22, 2018.
2 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf. Published 2018.
About the Author
Optum Fitness Product Director, On-Site Services
Michelle has been in the fitness industry for over 15 years, in both commercial and corporate fitness. In her current role at Optum, she supports the sales team and each of our nearly 300 clients. Michelle has her BA from Rutgers. She and her husband share their love of fitness with their young daughter and son.