Generation Z Needs Outdoor Recreation

Generation Z

Generation Z is missing out on socialization and working out together. Ashley Demhski dives into how outdoor recreation could be the answer and why you should consider it.

As marketers, we often discuss how world events have shaped generations. Dating back to the Great Depression to even more recently the 2008 recession, these economic events helped shape baby boomers, Gen X and millennial consumer habits. A question bigger marketing firms are analyzing is how will COVID-19 affect Generation Z?

Prior to the stay-at-home order, Gen Z displayed traits focused on authentic experiences, wanting to build relationships with companies and feeling empowered by the experiences they were getting. They showcased a need to put family first and make economically sound spending decisions, all while interacting with companies online through social media platforms including YouTube. This information helped fuel how companies, including recreation centers, interacted with these students.

Generation Z has proven to take a holistic view on health, paying premiums for apps and supplements. Research conducted by Les Mills showed Gen Z was the most active membership group globally in 2018, setting them up to take the lead in trends for future health and fitness industries. With gyms closed, everyone has shifted their fitness routines, focusing more on apps, YouTube videos and outdoor activities. For Gen Z, this isn’t a hard switch for them to make. A survey from UNiDAYS prior to COVID reported Gen Z fitness habits as “43% of respondents working out at home, 65% using fitness apps and 28% depending on wearable technology to track workouts.”

With everyday stressors center stage for this generation — schools closed, stuck at home — health and wellness may start to take a more center stage. We already know Generation Z cares about their health, but the pandemic may create even more awareness.

According to Market Research Blog,“Going forward, young people are expected to pursue fitness goals, cook more fresh food at home, and seek products and services that support their mental health such as meditation apps.” With a majority already not relying on gyms, this would be a great time for rec centers to invest time and money to create a versatile online fitness program that requires minimal equipment, boosts energy, and focuses on the holistic health of students including mental breaks and meditation.

What is missing from this formula? The social aspect. Many go to the gym or join classes for the community. The socialization aspect is just as important as the fitness aspect. For Generation Z, this is no different. According to Fortune, 43% of Gen Zers reported a decrease in productivity since working from home and 73% would rather be in the workplace.

To me, this means they are missing out on the school or work atmosphere — learning from their peers or coworkers, taking direction from their professors or bosses, and building those important relationships that shape their environments.

There isn’t a big difference in the recreation aspect either. People crave socialization and the mental push from others working hard around them. How many times have you competed unknowingly with the person on the treadmill next to you?

To combat this, outdoor recreation is playing a big role in many counties and probably will for a long time. As individual county and state laws change rapidly, taking recreation outdoors seems to be steady and gives opportunities to local gyms and studios to utilize public space.

Our rec centers shouldn’t be any different. With social distanced outdoor classes, a strict cleaning schedule and proper use of space, a surge in outdoor recreation is in our futures. Creating a space for this, whether preeminently or not, provides students with an opportunity to gain that social interaction while maintaining safety.

This pandemic has presented a learning curve for everyone — every industry, individual, family, etc. As we continue, we have to face the facts that change and fluidity are in order. With proper planning and the right team, our rec centers can continue to meet the needs of our students while responding to the current climate.

Ashley Demshki
Ashley Demshki serves as the outreach coordinator at the University of California, Riverside Recreation Department. Ashley received her B.A. in public relations and advertising from Chapman University in Orange, California. She began her career in the fashion industry, working on editorial and ecommerce shoots. Moving to focus on public relations, Ashley worked with numerous nonprofit and government agencies to help empower community organizations and the members they serve. She is passionate about student development and how recreation contributes to academic, physical and social success.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *