A jack of all trades and master of some, Varun Duggirala is a content creator, podcaster, entrepreneur, personal development pundit, author, and storyteller in no particular order. He is one of the leading voices in modern advertising, and his popular podcast, ‘Advertising is Dead’ talks about the developments and disruptions in Business, advertising, media, content, and entertainment. Varun fervently believes that content will drive the brandscape and help reframe the narrative around brands and how they market themselves. He is also the Co-Founder of The Glitch – one of India’s largest new-age creative agencies.
Let’s be honest. Most of us don’t like to be “sold” a fit lifestyle on social media. In many cases, it feels like more of the same. The content can often be superficial. In many cases, it veers toward making one feel inferior for not being as motivated, fit, or generally health-conscious as all those posts seem to propagate.
But, that’s been fast changing in recent times where authenticity, normalisation and empowerment have become the critical drivers of online fitness culture. The world of fitness and the ecosystem has been evolving from what it enables, how it allows and more than anything else, the ecosystem it has helped grow. So let me list out eight core tenets of this evolution that have and are driving its growth,
- The everyday fitness enthusiast. The fitness ecosystem has always focused on the athlete, in most ways highlighting inspiring moments and journeys of larger-than-life “professional” athletes. While driving, a lot of motivation left many an amateur feeling as if they could never truly get there. But the shift towards showcasing the “everyday” fitness enthusiast has normalised this barrier. In many ways, it has led to many a story of everyday people who want to live a healthy life cropping up—leading to a broader spread array of content being created by both brands and consumers.
- The (non-gym) fitness content creator. The pandemic leads to the growth of a specific kind of content creator in the fitness space. One who worked out at home ran in their neighbourhood, focused on body weight, functional training and often high-intensity exercises apart from the growth of interest in things like animal flow and boxing workouts. This has given a broader array for consumers to sample and work with and has allowed these different forms to visually add a lot of variety to the social media content around them.
- The reel-ifi-cation of fitness. Sixty-second Fitness challenges are all around us. A catchy track, a sequence of moves and thousands of people trying to emulate them. It has become the most entertaining way for fitness content to be created and consumed. It also made content around fitness a lot more fun and approachable for anyone to watch or even try for fun. Brands have also jumped onto this bandwagon, boosting the popularity of this form of trendy content.
- Athleisure-Fitness style all day. Another trend escalated by the pandemic was the lines between fashion and fitness fashion blurring. As the world opened up, most of us got used to the athleisure we wore at home every day, and we just took this style outdoors. Not just that, brands evolved their products to be conducive to the outside world while keeping the form factors and core functions of athleisure intact. Joggers became jogger pants, and tights finally had pockets ( hat tip to bliss club), and the work shirt/t-shirt in all its forms was soaked in many of the performance features from its core workout versions.
- What’s on your plate? What also grew was a vast array of DIY home recipes for everyone trying to find a healthy version of what we ate that they could make at home without changing everything they ate. More straightforward changes in recipes and ingredients enabled by nutrition creators have led to a widespread shift in what we eat and how we’ve evolved our plates. And let’s be honest, watching well-made food videos can be as therapeutic as informative.
- The pills have evolved. Not just food, the variety of vitamins, supplements, and new-age nutraceuticals we consume have grown manifold. And where there is growth in options with brands, so does the content around it evolve. With ayurvedic ingredients coming to the fore, it led to the need for more and more content that informs the consumer. Growing the information is also bringing with it many a conversation on social media on not just the efficacy of the ingredients but also a more comprehensive understanding and consumer demand for transparency.
- The Mental fitness enthusiast. Fitness isn’t just about physical fitness. Mental fitness is an area that’s finally growing in popularity with creators, coaches and platforms jumping onto the bandwagon and, in many ways, consumers sharing their stories with the world, enabling the bridge to broader mental health awareness. From techniques and frameworks to insights to understand and train our minds, this is a space to look at for the future.
- And finally, Community. As the fitness lifestyle gets amplified across the world through the vast array of content created around it, it’s leading to communities becoming the core driver for its future. People coming together through their shared interests in this growing pool of social media have made it a part of all our lives and feeds and, most importantly, connecting what’s online to real life. That physical human aspect is what is driving it more than anything else.