Millennials lead the way in wellness
They stroll the streets clad in the latest monochrome Lycra and Nike high tops, yoga mats slung over their shoulders in place of designer handbags, cupping cold-pressed green juices and talking shop about what wellness career they’re actively pursuing or blogging about.
They like just a drink or two (vodka soda only) but aren’t up for a late one, can find time to do weekly workouts and Sunday meal prep in between study/work and socialising and will have a stream of knowledge on everything from meditation to fermentation.
Who are these ominous people who seemingly have their life together?
They are the millennials and according to the stats – they could be the leaders paving the wellness way for both the current and future generations to come.
Yes that’s right – for a generation that gets a rep for everything from social media addiction to being entitled to switching careers too often (despite growing up in a tougher economic, career and housing market), what seemingly flies under the radar is the resounding healthy and holistic practises they’re actively living and inspiring.
Point in case – the latest Nielsen Global Health survey found millennials will not only pay more for premium health foods but will prioritise sustainably sourced and gluten-free products more than any other generation.
They also drink and smoke less than their predecessors.
The latest Australian National Drug and Alcohol survey found smoking, illicit drug taking and alcohol consumption are steadily on the decline with younger generations and those aged 12–17 now delaying taking up drinking – an 8 per cent increase since 2010.
This goes globally too. An Adult Drinking Habits survey in the UK found younger people consumed less alcohol in a previous week compared to the 66 per cent of 45-64 year olds who did.
Treating the body as a temple is now the in thing. And if that’s not yet convincing, then their resounding health practises are.
A Nielsen: Les Mills Global Consumer Fitness Survey found millennials do more gym-based activities than any other generation, accounting for 48 per cent of regular exercisers, while Gen X only make up 32 per cent and Baby Boomers come in just under 20 per cent.
And they’ve cut the crap too – no longer is Coca Cola the young people’s beverage of choice. 40 per cent of millennials have either cut back on or completely stopped drinking carbonated drinks – and at a much faster rate than their generational counterparts, according to an Morgan Stanley report.
This is also despite a recent marketing push for the ‘Coca Cola Life’ low calorie range aimed at enticing the 18-34 year old market.
With sugar the choice of contraband, it’s the younger clientele that are now inspiring the thriving juice scene, according to Pressed Juices in Sydney whose millennial shoppers keep their juices flying off shelves.
Michael Holm, Pressed Juices in-house nutritionist says he’s constantly impressed by the younger customers passion and commitment and has noticed how much they are willing to do to put their health first.
“I once had a customer confess to me that they spend $200 per week on green juice, which would occasionally cause them to fall short on their rental payments,” says Holmes.
“So I definitely think the seed has been planted earlier with Millennials. They actively want to take their health to the next level and are passionate about it, speaking with our nutritionists daily and asking them many questions about what will be best for them.”
Their passionate pursuit for nourishment also applies across food shopping too.
Jodie Stewart, co-founder of About Life, a leading wholefood retailer in Sydney, says millennials currently account for 30 per cent of their consumer market and are way more concerned with ethical purchases than the latest cult health trends.
“They have a high involvement and education around food quality, sustainability and ethical issues which really surprises us. They’re much more concerned with preserving health, it’s very inspiring,” says Stewart.
Meal planning is also standard practise for Gen Y according to Scott Gooding, Sydney-based personal trainer and author of the ‘Clean Living’ cookbook series.
“So many young people now follow my social media for food ideas – posting and tagging recipe creations of mine. I’m always encouraged by how much the younger generations know about food and how enthusiastic they are.”
While Gooding is not entirely convinced they’re the only generation paving the fit way, he does believe their social media influence has become a major source of inspiration to all others.
“I think millennials definitely engage more in yoga and mindful practices compared to their older counterparts – certainly in Bondi it’s become obligatory to post a motivational image of the sunrise, a downward dog and a nourishing smoothie bowl all before 8am. And this behaviour then naturally proves motivational to others, allowing the ripple effect to continue.”
The fit lifestyle as showcased by millennials on social media has not gone unnoticed by the fashion industry.
Julie Stevanja, CEO of Stylerunner – a leading activewear e-retailer says not only are millennials their largest buyers but they are the key influencers setting the style agenda too.
“They definitely start the trends and influence what’s going on in the industry – which has a knock on effect to other segments. So while we think about all of our customer bases, millennials are a large part of our Instagram success and have a very strong power to influence trends and be perpetuating what’s cool and on point in activewear.”
And where does this inherent fit trendsetting focus stem from? Stevanja believes it could in part be due to the new breed of celebrities trading in Starbucks for star jumps.
“I think millennials still look to celebrities and influencers as we always have but the change being is that we’ve now got a generation of Miranda Kerr the yogi, Gigi and Kendall who rock activewear and toned abs and Jesinta Campbell who loves boxing, so younger people now admire role models who are fit and healthy.”
Celebrities aside, Stevanja believes there is a much richer health culture ingrained in Gen Y.
“Millennials proactively want a healthy lifestyle – they’re more educated and understand the benefits of staying healthy (everything from having more energy and looking great) so it’s much more than a fashion fad it’s about wearing what is functional, practical and allows them to fit in as much healthy activity as they can.”
And the active couture isn’t just for show either – they’re all about upping their fitness ante.
Sydney yoga studio BodyMindLife has noticed Millennial clientele as the largest market segment across the company, with the demographic accounting for 65 per cent of their overall client base.
Aly Clarke, marketing manager for BodyMindLife says this is in part due to their innate awareness of a more mindful approach to living.
“The way we practice yoga has definitely evolved now – we learn to master our body, move purposefully with our breath, and through this we develop tools to help us to understand our emotions and form deeper connections,” says Clarke.
And unlike past generations, Clarke says young people are now taught the value of mindfulness from the get go.
“There are now a range of really wonderful programs in schools that now teach students asana, meditation and mindfulness techniques (from kinder to Year 12) to help with everything from concentration, stress relief, focus, sleep, self expression.”
So what can we make of this bubbly bunch of fit enthusiasts – are the well gen here to stay?
Well with ‘juice crawls’ cropping up in the US youth scene (think pub crawls, but sober) and ‘fitsters’ aka Friday night fit night revellers in the UK who’ve traded pints for sober spin classes are anything to go by, then I’d say it’s only going up from here.
And hey, if less substance abuse, healthier eating choices, fitter bodies and happier wellbeing levels are the embodiment of our future leaders – that’s a reason to cheers a kale juice if ever there was one!
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