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Millennial Exercise Trends | WMI

04 Sep 2015 Ann D'Adamo

in Media, Health & Wellness

millennial trends

More than any generation in recent history, Millennials are characterized by their interest in living a healthy lifestyle. We see it in falling obesity rates, in a deep interest in choosing what they perceive as “better” foods for their families, and even in their workouts. Prior generations may have exercised in traditional gyms, but the monotony of the treadmill or stair climber doesn’t appeal to the adventurous Millennial. They are avoiding exercise boredom with endurance challenges that push them to excel or small boutique-style fitness classes that offer variety and personalized service.

What inspires the Millennial exercise enthusiast? Women’s Marketing looked at the trends and opportunities for marketers to engage her.

The Latest Exercise Trends Go Beyond the Treadmill

A full 81% of Millennials say they exercise regularly, but 72% believe that gym memberships are too expensive. Although they haven’t completely abandoned multi-purpose facilities, boutique gyms that offer specialized classes, group workouts, and a community atmosphere are growing in popularity. Dedicated micro-gyms that offer authentic experiences, service, and the ability to connect with like-minded individuals is a trend that appeals to the Millennials’ desire for a unique experience.

There’s An App for That

Fitness apps are also helping workout enthusiasts to track their workouts and share their success on social media, something that especially pleases the socially-networked Millennial woman. Among those ages 18 to 29, 24% had health apps on their phones. Research found that college-educated women under age 50 with an average household income of at least $75,000 are more likely than others to have downloaded at least one health app. Brands that develop lifestyle apps that incorporate performance-based games, fitness tracking, and social aspects will begin to drive the conversation and remain top-of-mind for women concerned with health and wellness.

Make It Social

Millennials are exceedingly social. That dynamic spills into every aspect of their lives—and their workouts are no exception. The popularity of fun, group exercise such as Zumba, SoulCycle, and Crossfit, that turn workouts into a social event are popular with this demographic. Competitive and team-based race participation has skyrocketed among Gen Y—Running USA reports that the number of road race finishers tripled between 1990 and 2014, with women accounting for 10.7 million finishers worldwide.


Achieving fitness goals is a top priority for Millennials. Previous generations may have exercised for their cardiovascular health or for weight management, but Millennials are goal-oriented and exercise with a purpose—to complete a race or challenge, to master a new sport, or to achieve a toned body. When considering media, brands that want to engage Millennials should develop targeted messages that resonate with them, such as achieving specific goals.

In First Place!

Millennials want to be the first to discover something new and they enjoy keeping up with the latest fitness trends. Offering affordable options to experience new forms of exercise is one way brands can engage Millennials. Retailers can excite their Millennial base through small in-store group classes, online video, or sponsored destination-based opportunities. To them, exercise isn’t just about health— it’s about socializing, accomplishing goals, staying trendy, and having fun.

Is your brand fit? If your media plan needs to build some muscle, Women’s Marketing offers strategic programs that address your brand’s challenges and builds upon its strengths.

Source: Nielsen Consumer Exercise Trends Survey 2014. Running USA 2015 State of the Sport - U.S. Race Trends, Pew Research Center's report "Mobile Health”

Media Health & Wellness