Six-packs wherever you look, well-formed thighs and sweat only when it is aesthetically sparkling? These gym clichés are out. At least that’s what Markus Vancraeyenest, managing director of the FitX fitness studio chain, thinks. At the ISPO Re.Start Days, he joined in via video chat on the second day and gave an emotional talk about a new trend in fitness studios. The core message: Looking good is no longer so important. The decisive factor is feeling good. “The fitness industry is moving away from its old clichés,” said Vancraeyenest. “The Corona pandemic has made people aware that sport and fitness are crucial for health and well-being.”
According to Vancraeyenest, this is a good development, because otherwise sport can be daunting. “Many people don’t dare to start because the hurdle seems far too high for them. However, when the six-pack is no longer important, it’s much easier for newcomers to get started. After all, success, satisfaction and well-being would have nothing to do with looks.
“Body positivity is the new norm and we should all shift our focus away from the body and towards the mind,” Vancraeyenest said in his presentation. “To make fitness relevant for everyone, we need to lower the barriers and take a holistic approach.” When it comes to health, the focus should be on well-being, not on keeping body fat as low as possible.
One Survey of 2016, 43 percent of users go to the gym to “improve their appearance”, while 39 percent want to “get a better body”. Every second person sees the studio as a “balance in everyday life”, 59 percent say that the fitness studio helps them “stay healthy”. Whether the corona crisis has led to a situation in which wellbeing is now the top priority among the reasons for visiting the studio is unclear – there are no figures available as yet. However, according to Markus Vancraeyenest, it would be desirable: “Feeling good, instead of looking good – we have to get that into people’s heads.
It is not something you can see, rather a feeling, according to the FitX managing director. “It’s the sweat running down your face after a hard workout, it’s an emotion, it’s a smile.” During the curfew due to the Corona pandemic, people were worried a lot, Vancraeyenest continues: “About their health, their children, their job, their finances. This has made sport more important again, which is why we can now put an end to the fitness stereotypes”.
Vancraeyenest reports that something good has come out of the Corona pandemic. “During the lockdown, we at FitX offered free online workouts for home, including beginner yoga classes, tabata programs and workouts for the whole family. The sessions went down very well.” Meanwhile, under strict hygienic conditions. [SH1] – opened again. “Our members are coping well with the new rules and we are getting a lot of positive feedback,” says Vancraeyenest.
The Chain FitX is based in Essen and currently operates 89 studios in Germany. After a Deloitte evaluation FitX ranks second behind McFit on the list of the most popular fitness studios in Germany. Vancraeyenest has been managing the chain’s business since last summer, prior to which he was Chief Financial Officer.