Longevity, often synonymous with healthy aging, is the concept of prolonging your lifespan in a way that’s also more fulfilling. But it extends past the idea of simply living longer; it encompasses the maintenance of physical, mental, and emotional well-being as one grows older. How can we live healthier and happier, for longer? And what role does the fitness industry play in longevity? We’d posit that it’s quite a crucial role, but have we as an industry placed enough emphasis on it?
The method of actually achieving longevity is still a riddle we’re trying to solve. Of course, there are certain clues pertaining to physical and mental health. A holistic approach that includes regular movement, balanced nutrition, stress management, a fulfilling social life, and preventive healthcare seems to be — at least — the right direction.
Blue Zones are a massively popular topic as of late. Why? Because it’s about how to live healthier and happier, for longer. If you’ve yet to be swept up in the Blue Zone media frenzy, here's a quick debrief: there are five regions around the world in which the communities have a large percentage of centenarians (people who have reached the age of 100 years). The regions with healthy aging communities focus on daily outdoor activities, community social closeness, and whole foods.
Longevity is largely about fine-tuning the basics — and regular movement, of course, includes exercise. It’s part of the positive lifestyle recipe and one area in which we can collectively contribute.
But what else is involved? What does current science say or at least, what’s buzzing about our industry and the wellness space at large?
Dave Asprey, Wim Hof, Gwenyth Paltrow, and Andrew Huberman are some of the public figures within the health industry who’ve brought the concept of longevity to the mainstream conversation.
Many who are interested in wellness and longevity are tuning into episodes of Dr. Huberman’s podcast, the Huberman Lab, for episodes on healthy aging and longevity. Another popular podcaster (and the creator of Bulletproof Coffee and Bulletproof Labs), Dave Asprey, is well-known for popularizing the concept of "biohacking."
If you watched the Goop series on Netflix, featuring Gwyneth Paltrow herself and “IceMan” Wim Hof, you may have seen the idea of assessing your "biological age." In other words, how well a body has aged, and the overall state of their health. Hof, on the other hand, purports that frigid plunges into water with a specific breathing technique is the secret to a longer life.
Then there’s the controversial concept of nutrigenomics: the study of how diet and nutrition can influence your genes and by extension, your health and longevity. The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, the SENS Research Foundation, and Google's Calico are also dedicated to advancing research on aging and age-related diseases. And the supplement industry is on the trend too — with plenty of products claiming to support longevity, such as resveratrol, NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide), and various antioxidants.
You’ll also see things like bloodwork and DNA testing, fecal transplantation, hormone replacement therapy, hyperbaric oxygen chambers, and gene therapy.
While all of this sounds exciting, there are still questions as to the legitimacy of some of these methods. Wherever there is money to be made (and “shortcuts” to be found), we should be examining it with a much closer eye.
Let’s step back and look at the basics. Sleep, nutrition, and yes — exercise.
Less than 30% (!!) of Americans are getting enough exercise. Let’s pause on that for a moment. According to the 2020 National Health Interview Survey, “Only 16% of people outside of cities [are] meeting exercise guidelines.” It goes up to 28% if you’re in a major metropolitan area.
Studies show, perhaps unsurprisingly, that physical fitness quite literally adds years to your life. Thus, it would seem that fitness is an affordable and science-backed “first intervention” to cracking the longevity code.
So how can fitness professionals and our industry at large help the general population to live healthier, longer?
Some of it may come down to marketing strategies and messaging, emphasizing a back-to-basics approach. Let your clients and communities know that getting back to the gym can help them lead a long, healthy life. Walking, exercising, and focusing on perfecting the basics with movement and nutrition is a great first step.
When Ravi Sharma, Inspire360's VP of Partnerships, asked his LinkedIn community what fitness professionals are doing at their clubs to focus on longevity, Brad Thorpe, CEO of Isophit in Toronto, Ontario, answered. He said, “We started promoting small group isometric strength training classes as well as one-on-one isometric strength coaching using Isophit. This has added a unique element that clients love. Not only do they reclaim time in their busy lives, as workouts are typically 30 minutes (22.5 minutes of TUT/ 7.5 minutes rest), [but] the results clients experience (related to muscle and bone strengthening, [fat] loss, and blood pressure reductions) are significantly faster and more robust when compared to conventional gym exercise.”
Alternatively, we can ensure that if clients want to try these more experimental, cutting-edge treatments, they’re doing so with fitness and health professionals, in a fitness-focused environment. Danny King, Director of Performance and Recovery at LifeTime in Maple Grove MN, tells us “We are going hard at longevity, launching a new program called MIORA specifically focused on longevity and anti-aging. Everything from bloodwork [and] peptides to the enhanced recovery and rejuvenation services like cryo and red light.” With this approach, the clients are through the health club doors, in an environment where they can be educated and coached with a more 360-degree approach that includes fitness. The other treatments are more so complementary than the sole approach to longevity.
Edward Navan, Co-Founder of The Covery Wellness Spa, also offers "Cryo, contrast therapy via cold plunge and sauna, as well as compression, braintap (mental fitness), biocharger, PEMF, hyoerbaric oxygen, light therapy beds and walls, cryoskin and cryo slimming, body contouring through EMS, and salt therapy. We also have a medical add on model that allows us to offer IV infusions, NAD+, Peptide Therapy, and TRT. We offer full genetic testing that allows us to create a unique preventative plan based on all of therapies and the individuals unique needs."
Meanwhile, Greg Maurer, VP of Fitness and Education at Workout Anytime Franchising Systems, LLC, answered that they "have added the following optional wellness amenities for [their] franchise partners: Hydromassage Cryo and Relax Pod (already had the Hydromassage lounge); Redlight/Whole Body Vibration - Beauty Angel from JK North America; Human Touch Massage Chairs; Therabody Products including Theragun and compression; Styku Body Scans - have been a part of our model for over 6 years now; Traditional and Infrared Sauna options, and looking at Cold Therapy options including full on Electric Cryo and Cold Plunges."
Combining both fitness and leading-edge methods with your clients can be a great way to stay ahead of the curve in the longevity conversation as long as we do our research and ensure we're providing a safe, healthy environment for those trusting us in this arena.
This newsletter was brought to you by Kathie Davis, Peter Davis, Ravi Sharma, Dominique Astorino, and the Inspire360 team.
The industry is changing rapidly and we are here to help you sift through all the noise and get to the good stuff. Every month, we'll bring you trending topics and the inside scoop that we believe is paramount for fitness professionals to know.
Peter & Kathie Davis