There is no shortage of open-for-all events in Hong Kong meant to bring together a community with similar interests. The hundreds of yogis who made their way to West Kowloon for the IRIS: Your Escape ‘yoga day’ earlier this month showed the keen interest of Hong Kongers in attending these public events and meeting others who share their passion.
The event was attended by hundreds that day, and the overwhelmingly large proportion of Generation Y-ers rolling open their yoga mats and assuming the dhanurasana pose begged the conclusion that no other generation has yet expressed such a strong embracing of a healthy lifestyle.
It’s pretty clear that Millennials are a healthy bunch, and as seen above, certain Millennial-y traits are reflected in their healthy lifestyle. Health apps and wearable fitness tech such as Nike FuelBands and Fitbits are a key part of tech-savvy Millennials’ fitness journeys, and gyms are outdated compared to spin classes and fitness celebrities’ programs with scores of ardent followers. These, compared to just going to the gym, allow for that sense of community and togetherness built upon shared interests which Millennials love.
So, it’s not just that Millennials on the whole have more interest in a healthy lifestyle. More importantly, the way in which Millennials keep to such a lifestyle is very different from their elders – and here’s how.
The first way which distinguishes the healthy living patterns of a Millennial compared to the older generations is that they like to work together. It’s interesting, because other studies show that while there’s a lot of teamwork going on in the workplace of Millennials, they in a sense prefer working independently due to their competitive drives.
But health and fitness is a different story – maybe there’s only room for one person to be promoted to manager, but if my friend reaches her goal of running 5k under 20 minutes, it doesn’t mean I can’t too. Group activity classes are all the rage here in Hong Kong, with spin classes, trampoline fitness studios, and outdoor boot camp-style workouts such as Urban Active being popular among Millennials.
Millennials are also willing to pay for what they think will give them results. Millennials attribute a high value to fitness, and their inclination towards non-traditional, just-going-to-the-gym workouts means they shell out a lot more. One 50-minute class at XYZ, the first spin studio in Hong Kong, is $350. Compare that to the price of one-month’s use of the gyms provided by the local Leisure and Culture Services Department – just $180, or $90 for students. Public, free events like IRIS exist, but they don’t occur very regularly. Healthy snacks also don’t come cheap; they’re more expensive to make, which is reflected in their prices.
One of the many booths at the IRIS yoga event was organic snacks shop Sow Vegan. Their zucchini walnut crackers (45 grams) is $45, and their sour cream and onion kale chips (35 grams) $55. Health food stores like Sow Vegan target younger groups – i.e. Millennials, not just because they’re healthier than others, but because they value eating right as an important part of a healthy lifestyle and hence can justify these costs. Ever heard of the phrase “abs are made in the kitchen”? That pretty much sums up Millennials’ healthy eating habits.
Following a healthy lifestyle likely began with – and is continually fueled by – social media for Millennials. Millennials have turned fitness into more than just your own personal journey. While Generation Xs and Baby Boomers might be shy in talking openly about how many pounds they’ve shed, Millennials don’t treat this topic as taboo at all. Just look at those who follow Australian Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide program. Fans, or ‘BBG girls’ tag Kayla in their transformation pictures on Instagram, and Kayla regularly reposts them on her Instagram page.
Another popular influencer is Cassey Ho of Blogilates. Known for her regular uploads of follow-along pilates workout videos on YouTube, Cassey also shares ‘workout calendars’ on her Facebook page, which encourage people to ‘do’ specific videos week after week for a full month of progress. Both paid, such as Kayla’s, and free, such as Cassey’s, tools exist in social media, and their accessibility, ease of usage and the ability to connect with others in the community make the Internet an indispensable part of the fitness journeys of many Millennials.
So, Millennials have their own take on a lot of things, including healthy living. A sense of community built upon reaching a goal together, the willingness to invest in what they deem as something that works for them and the key role of social media plays set the fitness journeys of Millennials apart from their elders, who might just have a completely different definition of what it means to be healthy.