Before we navigate to creating the health & fitness spaces of the future we must first understand what health truly means and why we have seen such a sharp decline.

  • 28% of UK adults are obese. 37% US. 39% of adults globally are overweight. These numbers are rising and have tripled since 1995.
  • The most common cause of death for 18–38-year-olds is suicide(UK). Depression rates climbed to 25%, increased anxiety to 22% and optimism for the future declined to 40% (US)
  • 9/10 people have experienced poor mental health because of the way they look
  • Only 15% of adults consider themselves in good health

All these have significantly impactful consequences, costing trillions in healthcare costs, stunting societal growth and ruining lives. And they are not showing signs of improvement. Even with the recent health & fitness innovations, we have not broken through to broader society with new health challenges undoing the limited power of physical fitness.

I want you to climb into the shoes of all of those people whose pain and suffering is behind the troubling statistics we see surrounding health. Their failure is as much their own as it is the world around them, but we have to identify the fundamental reasons why these statistics have declined so badly in order to structure new systems that work efficiently to override them.

The health journey, each person's long term commitment to their health development, is misaligned by short term thinking and poorly orientated goals. These are mostly centred around body image and confusing, uninspiring perceptions of wellness.

Behind any membership, programme, wearable, app or training modality needs to be a desire to maintain a health journey that is blended into each person's lifestyle. This is a difficult challenge and often not the most profitable, which is why many businesses in the industry simply profit off the insecurities and inadequacies people struggle with and keep the cycle going. There’s a January rush and pre-summer gym membership push for a reason. To realign the delivery of health & fitness there needs to be a new perspective that resonates with broader society. A vision of health that can be attached to any business plan and passionately adopted by the majority of health & fitness services.

A Central Point Of Development

The dynamic and interconnected nature of our health represents the need to have a central point of development. For some their phone acts as this central point, with tech in the wearable market supporting their various waypoints. But for most the waypoint lies in more complex lifestyle facilitated behaviours, not in data. While you may have your Headspace subscription for mental health, gym membership for fitness classes and MyFitnessPal to organise your healthy eating, there is still a disconnect to our overall health development. These solutions rely on an external push rather than a more powerful internal pull and are at the mercy of behaviours that are easily corruptible and varied. Behaviours that ultimately favour comfort, ease and simplicity.

Our health systems play off each other — stress and nutrition, movement and energy, communication and mindset — this needs to be an ongoing conversation we have with ourselves that progressively improves our outcomes. For the majority of people these systems are working erratically against them and creating compounding issues, not a manageable balance. Having an internal central point of health development helps ground health challenges and make it all less overwhelming, providing a feeling of direction and responsibility over health. The first and foundational step in having a strong relationship with your health.

Focusing On Proactivity, Not Problem Solving

The desire to ‘not be sick’ trumps the desire to ‘be healthy’. Worse still even when we do feel like our health is deteriorating and we’re getting sick we pass it off as less significant in the hope it goes away, putting trust in the medical and healthcare systems that have evolved so effectively. The majority of people are putting out the fires of their poor health, not intentionally looking to improve areas and raise the baseline across each component of health, whether that’s our diet, mental health or physical fitness.

To feel control and balance where the health journey is desirable and flows through lifestyle relies on proactivity. Too many choose to ‘battle’ their health, separating ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviours and resorting to misconceptions and excuses. Before any weight is lifted or recipe is made there has to be a desire to find balance and control. Then, even the most challenging interventions to your health journey can be assessed and managed internally to stay on the flow and, crucially, not fall off the health journey.

The Healthy Societal Growth Paradox

Saving time and energy are noble pursuits in the advancement of technology, but we’re leaving behind a wreckage of health problems. Mental and social health problems associated with social media didn’t exist in 2005. 16 years later it is a major cause for concern. Emerging issues of childhood obesity, record teenage mental health problems and breakdown in communication systems all demonstrate a continued failure to advance society in a way that protects health as a priority.

The optimist in me is seeing the developments we’re making to solve these existing problems, but the realist sees problems that are not yet presented, or unknown unknowns, that could damage our global health over the next 10,20, 50+ years. If we could make a framework for health that society fundamentally believes in, then it has the potential to prevent potential future health catastrophes of our own making. If society builds a foundational desire for health development then innovation will follow commercial forces with health improvement in mind, not at a detriment. This will turn the tide of making being unhealthy easier than being healthy. But we can’t just keep building products that provide the discomfort, challenge and purpose that we know helps build dynamic health. These will only benefit those with the existing desire towards these values. More must be done to create the desire for these traits, not just present them through innovation. Market forces have yet to make this correction and power is driven in other directions that benefit unhealthy habits.

Health And Lifestyle

Wellness is an escape, not a lifestyle

Much of what we enjoy doing involves unhealthy actions. To truly make a health framework that everyone can resonate with we must be flexible with our approach to a balanced lifestyle while managing the temptations of life more effectively. It’s hugely important we have an enjoyable social life as this plays a big role in our happiness and is something we naturally prioritise. Health and lifestyle have to be inseparable and this is only achieved by making health development relatable to everyday life and not a switch we turn on or off. 

Central to this is a sense of purpose, fulfilment and direction in our lives that define our actions towards health and happiness. A professional athlete is religious with their health because their driving purpose is success in sport. Their fulfilment is defined by both long-term and short-term victories which has the capacity to make their name one that transcends generations. But I’ve also seen more purpose in a person driving a bus or treating a patient, more joy and fulfilment in a new mother. We all have an opportunity to define our purpose and drivers towards life and ensuring good health. These driving forces are not spoken about and applied enough in the development of health and we need to use these as foundational components of health & fitness delivery. This idea will create the longevity desired from health-focused actions.

Combine a desire to be healthy with a vision of what is possible and we have a concept that anyone can shape their personal health journey around.

For that, I propose Complete Health

Current Health Models

The problems with models and indices of health and wellbeing (such as the Global Wellness Institute, or MindBody 7 Principles), are although they may be scientifically sound, the majority of people don’t connect with their holistic framework and structure their lifestyle around it. Wellness is not a relatable concept to the majority of people and therefore have no waypoint to determine the strength of their health journey day to day. They present intangible optimal outcomes as opposed to relatable guides to a journey. As pressure mounts on these points of wellbeing consumers don’t turn to the proposed solutions and services available because they don't hold a tangible outcome that will help create consistency and understanding long term.

For that reason I feel we need to structure health development in a more meaningful, understandable and practical way. Make lifestyle the central point to which decisions are made with clearly actionable results. This is why I designed the complete health model.

Complete Health — Health Means More

Health should be viewed holistically and delivered synergistically through 6 dimensions which I call Complete Health -

Physical Health — How we move, how we rest.
Our activity, from strength to mobility to breath. Our sleep and states of rest and recovery. Our connection to our bodies natural processes.

Nutritional Health — How we fuel our body
A better connection to our nutrition and lifestyle, building a diet that fits your unique genetics surrounding the optimal balanced and nutritious diet.

Mental Health — The awareness and management of positive and negative mental states. Managing mindset, emotion and the scale to which our mental health deviates daily.

Social Health — How we develop relationships, how we communicate and connect with people. 

Health Intelligence — Drawing from knowledge, experience and perspective to understand more about how our body operates to feel a deeper and stronger connection to our health. 

Health Longevity — What we choose to do today will affect our tomorrow. Our purpose, fulfilment and core beliefs and values that drive our health decision making, behaviours and health habits. 

Every action we take falls into one of these principles. Every principle impacts the others. We know this inherently, but we need the support to manage this consistently. The model's intentional versatility and broad nature allows for new health challenges to emerge and to still feel confident in maintaining control of our health through the various ideals behind the principles and their interconnected nature.

This isn’t about creating an unattainable ideal of perfection, insinuating that complete health can be mastered. It’s acknowledging the journey we all go on in life to manage our health so we can live happy, fulfilled and purposeful lives. A conscious effort of unified progression will enhance that pursuit while maintaining the humility that mistakes will be made and lessons learned every day. A relatable and easily recognisable view of health management that blends with lifestyle changes and your individualised and constant growth through life.

The development of complete health is achieved through the designed experiences that active spaces provide for their members with a focused delivery that creates a desire for each person to develop their health holistically.

The problem here is that the health, fitness & wellness industry is not set up to deliver this. And, despite a few impressive companies, it isn’t heading in the right direction. Some fundamental changes need to be implemented. The perception of a healthy lifestyle does not carry meaning and significance to the majority of people.