GET FIT TECH
Sign up for the FREE digital edition of Fit Tech magazine and also get the Fit Tech ezine and breaking news email alerts.
Not right now, thanksclose this window I've already subscribed!
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
features

Industry insights: The way forward

In the light of more people being authentic about their gender identity, how should the health and fitness industry respond? David Minton reports

Published in HCM Handbook 2023 issue 1

With the NHS experiencing a huge growth in the number of people expressing a sense of unease because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity, the fitness sector can no longer ignore the shifting gender norms.

Sex is based on a rigid idea of biological traits, which societies use to assign people as either male or female, while gender is more fluid and determined by what an individual feels and does. Gender identity refers to our sense of who we are and how we see and describe ourselves.

So how should the fitness industry respond? Many operators I have spoken to are unsure about how to cater for the specific needs of this community and some LGBTQ+ people feel a high degree of gymtimidation about entering a health club.

Having developed a QPOC/non-binary/trans-centred community – which is connected through health – during the worst of the pandemic, Ryan Lanji, founder of Not Dead Yet (NDY), is working to bridge this gap (p50).

NDY is working with premium gym spaces in London to promote classes which prioritise gender inclusivity and marginalised communities of colour. Personal trainers and instructors unlearn their biases by incorporating NDY’s ethos. Sites also agree to convert changing room signage to gender neutral for the duration of the NDY’s booking. Blok has been one of the first operators to get on board and is working towards building a fully-inclusive community.

Fitness brands need to reimagine how gender appears across the whole company, from market research to survey forms, customer experience, the products on sale and programming.

Gender-inclusive marketing means leaving behind those favoured visuals – which have limited appeal to the wider consumer – and considering those representing a range of fitness products being used by a wider range of members.

Using inclusive language which highlights the benefits of physical activity will broaden appeal and brands which expand their focus to respond to this change could start to recognise the bigger business opportunity in 2023 and beyond.

David Minton is founder of research company Leisure DB

Gender insight

• Globally, 25 per cent of Gen Zers expect to change their gender identity at least once during their lifetime.

• 5,000 referrals were made to the NHS Gender Identity Development Service in 2021 – twice as many as the previous year.

• According to the Office for National Statistics, 262,000 people – 0.5 per cent of the population – reported their gender identity differed from their sex registered at birth.

• It’s estimated that the number of US millennials identifying as transgender or gender non-conforming was 12 per cent in 2020.

• 56 per cent of US Gen Zs know someone who uses a gender-neutral pronoun. (Harvard Business Review)

• 59 per cent of Gen Zs believe forms and surveys should include more options. (Harvard Business Review)

Ryan Lanji
Not Dead Yet: founder
photo: NDY
How did your fitness community come about?

I did the first lockdown on my own and used the time to focus on my body and mind. To help queer people in the same position, I curated a seven day a week workout schedule.

Monday was a sound bath, followed on Tuesday by a sensual movement class, led by a pole performer. Weight lifting anything in your house conducted in British Sign Language was on Wednesday and then HIIT, a version of spin, yoga and pranayama on the other days.

DJs from London clubs curated playlists, which provided a way for the queer community to integrate into the fitness community. To make it a fully inclusive, safe space I made sure the trainers were trans, non-binary, of colour or queer. Offered free and promoted on social media, it soon gathered momentum and received 10,000 hits from all over the world.

How have you taken it from an online community into clubs?

I approached gyms to see if we could host some classes. Blok has been really supportive, putting on one class a week and the Adidas gym at Brick Lane allows me to host one class a month. I recruit the instructors and bring the kids. I meet them to provide a familiar face and alleviate any anxieties they have about the environment.

What should operators know about this community?

Queer people need a bit of extra time, patience and kindness. They might not know how to enter the gym, or the class, or how to lift the weights and lots of them are scared to go into these white, CIS, heterotypical male spaces.

Loads of PTs misgender without realising it: for example addressing the class as “guys”. It’s better to say team, people, or everybody and it’s super important for trainers to say my name is and my pronouns are and I will call you they and them. In the marketing, we need to start seeing a range of bodies.

Do any of the people who come to NDY classes go on to join a gym?

The kids who come regularly feel like they’re part of a community. Once they come three or four times they know the receptionist and coach and it gives them a launchpoint to access the fitness industry.

What are your future plans?

I have exciting plans with Adidas to create a city-wide community, with a website and podcasts. I want to work with anyone in the fitness industry who believes in the future of an integrated, healthy world and who wants to be more inclusive.

PTs can misgender people, addressing classes as ‘guys’ / photo: NDY
Ed Stanbury
BLOK: founder
photo: BLOK
Why did BLOK partner with NDY to run these classes?

We want to create a safe space in the fitness industry to avoid the alienation of queer and trans people. Modifying our offering to cater for this community is in line with our founding principles of wanting to be an inclusive and safe space for all communities in which we operate and is in line with our diversity and inclusion strategy.

What were the challenges?

Creating gender neutral changing rooms has been a challenge in our existing sites, as they weren’t designed with this in mind, we create them specifically for the NDY classes and schedule classes at times which won’t affect our timetable.

Any advice to other operators?

Make this community feel welcome. Represent the LGBTQ+ community in marketing materials, create gender neutral changing rooms and avoid the use of gendered language, such as ‘guys’.

We want to create a safe space in the fitness industry to avoid the alienation of queer and trans people
Blok is working with NDY to make its sites welcoming to all / photo: BLOK
Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

Let’s live in the future to improve today
Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

Our results showed a greater than 60 per cent reduction in falls for individuals who actively participated in Bold’s programme
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
Profile

Sohail Rashid

35 million people a week participate in strength training. We want Brawn to help this audience achieve their goals
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

Going hybrid

Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features
Core Health & Fitness: level up your HIIT game
Core Health & Fitness
Looking to level up your HIIT game? Meet the dynamic duo that’s about to revolutionize your workouts: the StairMaster HIIT Rower and HIIT Ski! Read more
Orbit4 is a leading FitTech brand that provides gym operators with a comprehensive software solution ...
The UK's largest annual trade event dedicated to physical activity, health, and performance...
Flooring
Lockers
Spa software
Salt therapy products
Cryotherapy
08-10 Oct 2024
Malaga - FYCMA, Malaga, Spain
Orbit4 is a leading FitTech brand that provides gym operators with a comprehensive software solution ...
The UK's largest annual trade event dedicated to physical activity, health, and performance...
Core Health & Fitness: level up your HIIT game
Core Health & Fitness
Looking to level up your HIIT game? Meet the dynamic duo that’s about to revolutionize your workouts: the StairMaster HIIT Rower and HIIT Ski! Read more
Get Fit Tech
Sign up for the free Fit Tech ezine and breaking news alerts
Sign up
Flooring
Lockers
Spa software
Salt therapy products
Cryotherapy
08-10 Oct 2024
Malaga - FYCMA, Malaga, Spain

latest fit tech news

Mindbody, has launched a specialist insurance programme for its customers which is being delivered through its platform. Organised in partnership ...
news • 12 Jul 2024
Boutique fitness software platform, Xplor Mariana Tek, has launched in-app gamification to help studios motivate more members to reach their ...
news • 09 Jul 2024
A UK-based technology has created a sensor-enabled performance running track with advanced sensors, paired with cameras, to generate real-time data ...
news • 08 Jul 2024
F45 Training has become the first health and fitness operator to make its functional/HIIT group workouts available on Strava, the ...
news • 27 Jun 2024
Nike and recovery brand, Hyperice, have partnered to create two tech-driven recovery products – a vest and boots – ahead of Paris ...
news • 22 Jun 2024
Apple has previewed the upcoming watchOS 11, which has more health and fitness insights and offers more personalisation than ever ...
news • 12 Jun 2024
Noraxon’s next-generation motion capture system, MyoMotion, can be used by PTs to enable custom training programmes, minimise injuries and help ...
news • 11 Jun 2024
New research shows that following social media health influencers motivates young people to exercise more vigorously and eat more fruit ...
news • 28 May 2024
Peloton has secured a critical US$1bn five-year loan to shore up its finances. The loan has repayment terms which are ...
news • 24 May 2024
Peloton Interactive Inc is believed to be working to get its costs under control in a bid to align with ...
news • 08 May 2024
More fit tech news
features

Industry insights: The way forward

In the light of more people being authentic about their gender identity, how should the health and fitness industry respond? David Minton reports

Published in HCM Handbook 2023 issue 1

With the NHS experiencing a huge growth in the number of people expressing a sense of unease because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity, the fitness sector can no longer ignore the shifting gender norms.

Sex is based on a rigid idea of biological traits, which societies use to assign people as either male or female, while gender is more fluid and determined by what an individual feels and does. Gender identity refers to our sense of who we are and how we see and describe ourselves.

So how should the fitness industry respond? Many operators I have spoken to are unsure about how to cater for the specific needs of this community and some LGBTQ+ people feel a high degree of gymtimidation about entering a health club.

Having developed a QPOC/non-binary/trans-centred community – which is connected through health – during the worst of the pandemic, Ryan Lanji, founder of Not Dead Yet (NDY), is working to bridge this gap (p50).

NDY is working with premium gym spaces in London to promote classes which prioritise gender inclusivity and marginalised communities of colour. Personal trainers and instructors unlearn their biases by incorporating NDY’s ethos. Sites also agree to convert changing room signage to gender neutral for the duration of the NDY’s booking. Blok has been one of the first operators to get on board and is working towards building a fully-inclusive community.

Fitness brands need to reimagine how gender appears across the whole company, from market research to survey forms, customer experience, the products on sale and programming.

Gender-inclusive marketing means leaving behind those favoured visuals – which have limited appeal to the wider consumer – and considering those representing a range of fitness products being used by a wider range of members.

Using inclusive language which highlights the benefits of physical activity will broaden appeal and brands which expand their focus to respond to this change could start to recognise the bigger business opportunity in 2023 and beyond.

David Minton is founder of research company Leisure DB

Gender insight

• Globally, 25 per cent of Gen Zers expect to change their gender identity at least once during their lifetime.

• 5,000 referrals were made to the NHS Gender Identity Development Service in 2021 – twice as many as the previous year.

• According to the Office for National Statistics, 262,000 people – 0.5 per cent of the population – reported their gender identity differed from their sex registered at birth.

• It’s estimated that the number of US millennials identifying as transgender or gender non-conforming was 12 per cent in 2020.

• 56 per cent of US Gen Zs know someone who uses a gender-neutral pronoun. (Harvard Business Review)

• 59 per cent of Gen Zs believe forms and surveys should include more options. (Harvard Business Review)

Ryan Lanji
Not Dead Yet: founder
photo: NDY
How did your fitness community come about?

I did the first lockdown on my own and used the time to focus on my body and mind. To help queer people in the same position, I curated a seven day a week workout schedule.

Monday was a sound bath, followed on Tuesday by a sensual movement class, led by a pole performer. Weight lifting anything in your house conducted in British Sign Language was on Wednesday and then HIIT, a version of spin, yoga and pranayama on the other days.

DJs from London clubs curated playlists, which provided a way for the queer community to integrate into the fitness community. To make it a fully inclusive, safe space I made sure the trainers were trans, non-binary, of colour or queer. Offered free and promoted on social media, it soon gathered momentum and received 10,000 hits from all over the world.

How have you taken it from an online community into clubs?

I approached gyms to see if we could host some classes. Blok has been really supportive, putting on one class a week and the Adidas gym at Brick Lane allows me to host one class a month. I recruit the instructors and bring the kids. I meet them to provide a familiar face and alleviate any anxieties they have about the environment.

What should operators know about this community?

Queer people need a bit of extra time, patience and kindness. They might not know how to enter the gym, or the class, or how to lift the weights and lots of them are scared to go into these white, CIS, heterotypical male spaces.

Loads of PTs misgender without realising it: for example addressing the class as “guys”. It’s better to say team, people, or everybody and it’s super important for trainers to say my name is and my pronouns are and I will call you they and them. In the marketing, we need to start seeing a range of bodies.

Do any of the people who come to NDY classes go on to join a gym?

The kids who come regularly feel like they’re part of a community. Once they come three or four times they know the receptionist and coach and it gives them a launchpoint to access the fitness industry.

What are your future plans?

I have exciting plans with Adidas to create a city-wide community, with a website and podcasts. I want to work with anyone in the fitness industry who believes in the future of an integrated, healthy world and who wants to be more inclusive.

PTs can misgender people, addressing classes as ‘guys’ / photo: NDY
Ed Stanbury
BLOK: founder
photo: BLOK
Why did BLOK partner with NDY to run these classes?

We want to create a safe space in the fitness industry to avoid the alienation of queer and trans people. Modifying our offering to cater for this community is in line with our founding principles of wanting to be an inclusive and safe space for all communities in which we operate and is in line with our diversity and inclusion strategy.

What were the challenges?

Creating gender neutral changing rooms has been a challenge in our existing sites, as they weren’t designed with this in mind, we create them specifically for the NDY classes and schedule classes at times which won’t affect our timetable.

Any advice to other operators?

Make this community feel welcome. Represent the LGBTQ+ community in marketing materials, create gender neutral changing rooms and avoid the use of gendered language, such as ‘guys’.

We want to create a safe space in the fitness industry to avoid the alienation of queer and trans people
Blok is working with NDY to make its sites welcoming to all / photo: BLOK
Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

Let’s live in the future to improve today
Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

Our results showed a greater than 60 per cent reduction in falls for individuals who actively participated in Bold’s programme
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
Profile

Sohail Rashid

35 million people a week participate in strength training. We want Brawn to help this audience achieve their goals
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

Going hybrid

Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features