Something interesting happened to me the other day in the stock photography aisle of the Adobe Cloud. What? You mean you don’t hang out there from time to time?
Anyway, I was looking for images to supplement a story on Millennials and fitness. So I typed those two words into the Search function…and got pages and pages of results. I rolled up my scrolling sleeves and got started.
The first thing I noticed was that the majority of the images returned had nothing in them that even remotely spoke of “fitness.” Curious. Did someone change the meaning of the word “fitness” while I wasn’t paying attention?
The second thing of note was that well over half of the pictures featured beaming people taking selfies, a smorgasbord of youth and dental bliss. And it was that “youth” thing that triggered a third, fairly random thought: Don’t millennials ever get old?
I tried to remember when it was that I saw the first mention of this generation as a coalescing demographic phenomenon. Suffice to say, it was a long time ago. But scan almost any periodical rack these days—physical or virtual—and you’ll see a headline that’s something along the lines of, Tracking The Millennials: How To Reach The Next Generation. It occurred to me that millennials have been the “next generation” for a long time now. You’d think they would’ve arrived by now.
Intrigued by this train of thought, I went to the trusty inter-webbie thing and found that most experts consider the Millennial generation to have begun more or less officially with the first baby born on January 1, 1980. This being a full-service webzine, I will do the math for you—the oldest millennial is now 36 years old.
OK, now I’m fascinated. How did this slip by us? Not only is this leading edge of a generation far removed from the perpetually young image that is endlessly associated with them…they’re actually closer to middle age than they are to the occasion of their last rave party.
Coming full cycle, let’s put that into the context of fitness. Or at the very least, play. Never in the annals of recreation has a generation had more opportunities to recreate than have the Millennials. And they didn’t stop with youth sports programs. Millennials have, for the most part, kept active throughout their lives to this point—partially out of habit and partially because this is a more health-conscious, inclusive, and social collection of people than America has ever seen. They are most certainly a different type of 30-somethings than are their predecessors.
So what happens when they reach, en masse, that stage of life where Americans have traditionally packed it in on competitive play? You know the progression: “real” job, marriage, mortgage, kids…couch and clicker. Can anyone seriously believe that this entire generation will opt out of competitive recreation without a second thought, as did the vast majority of Baby Boomers before them?
And yet…when you look around, there’s so little in place to serve their needs and desires for “compreation.” Is that opportunity I smell?