January is the time we make pacts with ourselves to change something we want to improve about our lives. Most years, our determination is intense. We HAVE to lose that weight, start exercising or change whatever has been plaguing us. We employ tricks, tools and trainers to encourage us. We approach the challenge with gusto, enthusiasm and unrealistic expectations.
This year is different. We have emerged from a more than two-year world-wide pandemic that slowed us down and gave us time for reflection. We seem to have become wiser. Our sense of well-being is being re-defined.
Instead of bigger, better, faster, stronger and more expensive; mindful, balanced, efficient, moderate and organic may be the adjectives used to describe the direction of health and fitness in 2023.
I talked to fitness business owners on the Hill who shared what they see arising this year among their clients.
Holistic Approach to Wellness
“Clients are taking noticeable steps to move towards a more inclusive approach to well-being,” said Lashone Wilson, director of One Breath at a Time health/wellness services. “Because of the shutdown, people had the time to reflect and evaluate. They have become more interested in mental, emotional and physical health, not just the physical side of looking good.” Wilson, who is a health/wellness coach, said she is getting many more requests for coaching than when she first began her business. “They want help to change habits. They ask me, ‘How do I step out of what I used to know into what I really desire?”
Wilson found that clients are acknowledging their own responsibility for their well-being. “It’s not the job of the government or some outside force. They have more understanding that it involves the whole person.”
Wilson, who also teaches at Hot Yoga Capitol Hill and in DC public schools, has found this approach to wellness trending not only with individuals, but also with companies and schools. “I’m getting an increase in requests for breath work, meditation and yoga classes from schools and businesses I never worked with before.”
Self-Care is on the Rise
People have become more aware that they can do things that make them feel better and they are interested in learning how to do them. They realize they are more empowered as an individual, can be happier and feel better when they can regulate themselves internally.
Jesse Heier, owner of Jade Fitness, sees in-person workouts on their way back in 2023. “Although virtual still works for some, clients say in-person classes are more fun and they feel like they get a better workout.” They also are coming to classes for motivation and a sense of community. He also says requests for more diverse workouts are trending. “People want a more inclusive fitness experience. They are including more mindful disciplines such as Pilates and yoga in addition to cardio and weight-training into their workouts.”
He agreed with Wilson about the growth of personal training—Jade’s one-on-one sessions have grown faster than any other offering.
Mental Health Becomes a Priority
2023 may be the year that tending to one’s mental health will come out of the closet. Taboos have vanished surrounding mental health issues. Online therapy sessions birthed during the shutdown are here to stay. People have found it’s more convenient, less time consuming and often as effective as in-person sessions. Living through the pandemic has taught people how important it is to nurture their mental welfare in order to balance the everyday stress they face. They’ve also learned how integral mental health is to their physical and emotional health.
Technology is Bigger than Ever
Stand outside near Eastern Market metro these days during rush hour and you will see people walking, jogging and standing wearing smartwatches, rings, earplugs or even smart jackets. Devices are equipped with technology that can tract the health status of a wearer and estimate real-time vitals. Some devices can even transmit data to doctors for review.
Lara Atella, owner of Hot Yoga Capitol Hill, confirms that people who are taking more control of their health are often using this type of technology. “Coming out of the pandemic I find people are disillusioned with the health care system. They are beginning to realize it’s not the medical profession’s job to prevent illness. It’s up to us to take charge of our own health as individuals and use the professionals to assist.”
Both Atella and Heier sees technology as playing an even bigger role in fitness this year. As a result, Heier said shorter workouts are becoming more popular. “Everyone’s trying to get steps in or complete Fitbit goals. Having this information in their watch has made them more aware,” said Heier. “They realize you can work out for 30 minutes, not an hour or more and meet your goals.”
Atella has mixed feelings about technology assistance. “If you thought you slept well and you feel rested, yet your app says you didn’t, do you believe how you feel or your app?” said Atella. “Technology is great to use to as baseline but not to override how you feel. It’s not always an accurate reading. It’s important to figure out what works for you and not be totally reliant on the information. It’s more important to learn how to self-regulate.”
It may be easy to focus on the damage the shutdown did to the health and fitness industry. However, it is far more productive and exciting to look at how the pandemic gave us an opportunity to take a step back and re-evaluate. It is leading us to a more balanced approach to fitness in 2023 that includes self-love and listening to our inner guide in order to get and stay healthy.
To contact Atella: www.hotyogacapitolhill.com. To contact Heier: www.jadefitnessdc.com. To contact Wilson: www.onebreathatatime.info
Pattie Cinelli is a health and fitness professional and journalist who has been writing her column for more than 25 years. She focuses on non-traditional ways to stay healthy and get well. Please email her with questions or column suggestions at: firstname.lastname@example.org.