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If your resolution to hit the gym five times a week has fallen off, have no fear: this is a safe space. We just figured January’s the perfect time to take the pulse of fitness marketing.

After all, analyzing our culture’s views on health and wellness can also be an interesting way to map shifting social attitudes. Like how Jane Fonda’s workouts helped working mothers squeeze in a sweat, or how Richard Simmons single-handedly saved the short shorts industry, there are collective values hidden under all that Lycra.

Let’s flex our thinking muscles and take a look:

Inclusivity above all

Spots from category leaders like Planet Fitness and Orangetheory do some heavy lifting to show that gyms aren’t just Meathead HQ anymore. The self-deprecating humor and acknowledgement of potential awkward moments speaks to a greater appreciation for coming exactly as you are, “touch up my appearance” button be darned.

Putting the “I” in “inspiration”

Back in my day, sports-centric ads were all about the faceless man of And 1 torching you with a burn so brutal it’d scar future generations. But we’ve moved away from a merciless “PAIN IS GAIN” mentality and toward celebrating everyone’s different abilities.

Nike has done an especially good job of putting storytelling at the forefront and branding all kinds of people as athletes. Remember: the personal is powerful.  

Helping the whole person

Don’t get me wrong. “Get shredded!” can be a very effective CTA if you’re into that kind of thing. But wellness has expanded beyond stomachs that look like corrugated sheet metal. Brands are now appealing to the lesser-tended-to, but equally-as-important parts of every person—like Adidas’s “GamePlan A” venture, which is dedicated to blending active extracurriculars with work life.

So now that we have a game plan centering people—quirks, calluses, capabilities and all—you just might make your own personal best marketing. You know we’re already laced up and ready to go.

Have a no-sweat-unless-you-want-to weekend, everybody!

—Your meet-you-on-the-mat friends at Brokaw

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