I recently followed an advertised request for blood typification by the German Bone Marrow Donors Organization(incidentally the DKMS provides 12 patients world-wide with donor stem cells-DAILY). I was handed a day pass for a local gym/spa at the door and promptly forgot all about it. A couple of weeks later, I accepted a call from the Fitness Studio and was informed that I had won a 2 week free trial membership.
I have not set foot inside a gym since the 90ies. With three kids and a huge home, I did not need another item on my to-do-list. Going to the gym seemed like just another chore. Between the kids, housework, taking the stairs and walking, I really did not see the point in making extra time for exercise(luckily, I have been blessed with a weight problem free body).
Since my life situation has changed, I have a lot of free time on my hands and the absence of friends, fills me with a longing to fit in. So followed the invitation and went because a.) it is a ladies only and b.) just a 7 minute walk from my house.
To my surprise, the owner sat down with me to discuss the perks of exercise and the different programs available. She explained that her Studio was participating in a research project on the benefits of exercise and age(50+). So, my 2 week free membership with no obligations was promptly turned into a 4 weeks, as a participant in research(of course these free trials are a strategy to sign up new members).
Now, two and a half weeks into the program, I should mention that the average age of women at the Health club is 40 and up, at least during the morning hours and there are quite a few ladies who are 60 and older. There is even a 92 year old lady, for whom the maxim Fit as a Fiddle, seems to have been invented. Hat off to all of them!!!
The Health and Fitness Market appears to be another German Billion Euro industry. With more than 7.300 Health Temples, exceeding 7.6 Million members throughout the country and expected to rise further, a booming business indeed. There is such a variety of clubs, from the little gym of the neighborhood, the high end super spas with pools, saunas, Turkish baths and Feng Shui relaxation areas, to the super Discount fitness clubs, with bargain bottom prices for as little as 16,90 Euro a month- without long term sign up contracts-open 24 hours a day! But there are other major players in the industry, most importantly the sports outfitters which contribute to the Billions which are being spent on health.
Two thirds of Germany’s citizen are overweight, and the excess pounds provide an equal amount of concern in the Private and State Insurance Companies, that they have embarked on a prevention scheme, a 5 week funded weight loss program, under the tutelage of health clubs, with dietary as well as exercise regimen. Prevention and rehabilitation training at reduced cost, makes sense both to the insurers and the insured, can be a powerful incentive!
The general trend is moving away from its old idea of fitness and going towards healthiness and vitality. Not surprising since the population is swiftly growing older, with average life expectancy for men at 77.7 and 82.7 for women and expected to increase further.
Mens sana in corpore sano…sound mind and body
(Not my own picture)