Finding a Better Way to Get Fit this New Year

December 11th 2015

Kristin Marguerite Doidge

You may want to rethink the dreaded, long gym contracts, as the new year approaches and "get fit" tops your New Year's resolution list. While an estimated 40 percent of Americans resolve to get back into shape each new year, sixty percent of them fail to stick to their resolution by the time June rolls around.

Year after year, we’re hit with an absurd amount of pressure to lose weight and join a gym in the New Year. The price tag seems to be just low enough that many of us happily commit our hard-earned dollars to the long haul without even reading the fine print. But is there a better way?

"Joining a gym is an interesting form of what behavioral economists call pre-commitment," Kevin Volpp, director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the Wharton School told NPR last year. "They're picturing the 'new me' who's actually going to go to the gym three times a week and become a physical fitness machine."

Ditching the treadmill.

Thankfully, Millennials are redefining nearly everything about daily life—how we live, work, and have fun—and that includes fitness.

When my sister, Jennifer Williams, founded the boutique barre and lifestyle fitness concept, Pop Physique, in Los Angeles in 2008, she started a revolution in how we think about working out.

“Gyms sell memberships in hopes that it’s cheap enough that you won’t notice and you won’t go, whereas we want our classes full,” says Williams.

Studies show that Millennials tend to favor experiences and social relationships most. “We are motivated by a different level of social connectedness that makes us feel less alone in our strive to make meaning of our lives,” writes Adedayo Fashanu in the Huffington Post of his fellow twenty- and thirty-somethings. “We are the most connected generation and that plays a huge role in how mindful we are about our relationships.”

Pop and other thoughtfully designed services and offerings like it have succeeded in the Millennial consumer-driven era because of the sense of community they create in their modern, stylish spaces situated in neighborhoods where people tend to work and play.

It’s not about "working out" so much as it is about spending time together and feeling strong individually and as a corps group.

The latter part of that equation is important to Williams. She was a professional ballerina before becoming a certified Pilates instructor and creating Pop with her husband, Deric, and longed for a place to work out where the people were warm and welcoming, and the aesthetic was beautiful and inspiring long after she returned to her office.

They call this their “artistic approach” to exercise, and it means that each and every detail of the Pop experience is intentional. Classes are kept small; teachers and other students know your name. After while, the idea is that the workout becomes a part of your life, not just a Post-it note resolution to be forgotten.

Getting back to the basics.

While bringing a friend to work out is a helpful way to stay motivated, remember, it’s not so much the ‘what’ you’re doing, but the ‘why’ you’re doing it, if you want to make a lasting change in habits. (Read: it must actually be fun.) Try something you’ve never tried before in a place you’ve never been. Get outdoors!

Partnerships with other innovative, disruptive-minded service providers like ClassPass allow Pop Physique to bring their workout and their vision for a more purposeful experience to more people, even if it means they’re part of a mix of other boutique-style offerings.

"You have to actually be good," says Williams. "They’re going to see your competitors, they’re going to see other things, so it’s important that your clients know how much you appreciate and value them."

Williams notes that people are always looking for a restart, and the new year is a great excuse to take advantage of a fresh reason to recommit—and not just to fitness.

Whether it’s back dancing at Pop Physique, or backpacking, let’s all resolve to get back to what matters in 2016.