When you walk through any store that sells fitness apparel or you see an online ad what do you see? Odds are, you see models and ambassadors showcasing the gear that you'll find in the store. Presently, many different types of people are represented. We currently have inclusivity with gender, ethnicity, size, disabilities sexual orientation- representation in the fitness industry has improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade or so. (Generally, these are models- not necessarily people who ACTUALLY work out.)
Except when it comes to one group of people. And a massive one at that.
People in midlife.
People like me, who are in their midlife, are different than other groups who have been given more equal representation in the fitness industry. The pathos behind equal representation is rectifying years of marginalization for one reason or another, both for models and shoppers of those under-represented communities. This is great. It's progress. There has been a lack of representation for minorities, plus-sized people, and those with disabilities for a very long time. Once again, this is excellent and long overdue. But people in midlife? That's a little different.
EVERYONE (if privileged) WILL ENTER MIDLIFE AT SOME POINT! It doesn’t matter where you come from or what color you are. Age affects all of us. And yet, midlife goes unrepresented on the ads of those aforementioned fitness apparel brands. Am I the only one who thinks this is absurd?!
As a woman who herself is in business, I understand ROI. If you were to tell me that big fitness brands don't display midlife models wearing their clothes because it's bad for business, I'd understand. It still wouldn’t make it right, but I can at least understand the economic side of it.
The problem is it wouldn't be bad for business. It would be very, very good for business.
People in midlife, specifically women, spend the most of any demographic. By a landslide. We don't just contribute to the market; many times, we are the market. In fact, midlife women control 64% of global spending. In today’s crowded and competitive market for athleisure wear, how does it make sense to ignore a powerful consumer demographic?
Midlife women are not the same women of years passed. Who has seen the meme showing The Golden Girls cast next to the women from Sex and the City reboot? Same ages! Very different lifestyles! We are vibrant and engaged. Many of us are still working and discovering new purposes and activities. A lot of us can afford to purchase at the price points these brands are at (should we choose to spend our money that way).
Lack of Relatability
When I look at the ads from all of these brands and I see the clothes on a skinny 20-year-old, I’m personally not able to relate. I have no idea what that would look like on me. In my discussions with my peers who also work out, I’m not alone in this perspective.
What if someone walked into a store, or looked at an online ad and saw a real midlife woman, not a traditional model, but someone who authentically lives that life, wearing those clothes?
You've just given the biggest and most willing group of shoppers an image they can associate with. When they walk through your doors and look at the walls, or look at an online shop, they'll see a bit of themselves in those midlife fitness models. A more-accurate picture of what they might look like in that pair of leggings and sports bra.
Simply put, using midlife fitness models is a good moral and fiscal decision for a fitness apparel manufacturer.
The One and Only
I, Gail Gensler, would like to be that midlife fitness model who breaks the ridiculous, traditional image of fitness brands. I've yet to find another influencer who represents the same brand as me; midlife, active, fit, and real. I've spent countless hours over the last few decades doing what I love in the gym, be it boxing, spinning, CrossFit, or any other activity that pushes me to my limits. Am I a size 0? Hell no. I'm a real, 61-year-old woman who lives her life like age is just a number.
I'm confident that I can be the one to finally break the mold. When I imagine a midlife woman showcasing a fitness brand on an ad or billboard, I imagine it's me. It's the whole reason I got into this influencer business after all! The first one through the door is always the bloodiest, as they say; I know it won't be easy. But with the right approach and an enormous amount of determination, I can be the one to open the doors for countless other fit and lively midlife women, all of whom are ready, willing, and able to showcase their active lifestyles.
Let's get to work!