Active Intelligence: Get to know the female gym tribes

It’s no secret that wellness is big business.

The wellness economy itself is now valued at an astonishing $3.7 trillion and, within that, women’s activewear remains a dazzling retail bright spot. What’s more, 151 million people worldwide are members of gyms, and, to feed their demand for fitness, a new roster of boutique gyms, fitness clubs and online communities have emerged, delivering a multitude of workouts for every taste – some are even becoming crucial social hubs.

The ever-growing rise and relevance of social media gives way to a gym culture that is more tribal and established than ever before.

Do you know your gym tribes? In an increasingly competitive and crowded market, it is more important than ever that active brands and retailers know and understand these groups – everything from their style and their drivers, through to their diets and icons.

For brands and retailers in the active space, understanding the needs and nuances of each gym tribe is key. Our full report, Active Intelligence – Women’s Gym Tribes explores each tribe in detail – but we’re previewing three for you here, on WGSN Insider.


The Gains Girls


Overview: The Gains Girl tribe evolves from the previously highlighted Protein Princess. By discovering that training like a man actually emphasises womanly curves, she has ditched cardio for heavy lifting.

Lifestyle drivers: Don’t be deceived by the glamorous, Instagram-heavy, ‘gluty-licious’ outward appearance of #GirlsWhoLift. The underlying motivation and staying power is the associated boost in mental strength and personal confidence.

Influencers: Watch out for Tammy Hembrow or Khloé Kardashian.

Find her here: Gymbox, Planet Fitness.

Post-workout snack: Funfetti protein pancakes with a creatine and aminos shake.

Brands: Gymshark, L’urv, Saski all dress this tribe.


The Fitness Outsiders


Overview: Fitness should be for all, but what if you don’t feel like you fit in at the gym or even identify with the archetype of slim, white gym bunny? Emerging communities and outspoken figures are creating alternative classes, spaces and inspiration for the Fitness Outsider.

Lifestyle drivers: Inclusivity is at the heart of the Outsider ethos. Rules are gleefully broken and body ideals redefined; creativity abounds.

Influencers: Michèle LamyBevin Branlandingham and Valerie Sagun.

Find her here: Emerging Outsider gyms: Everybody, Overthrow Boxing, The Plus Bus, HyperBody Fitness, YMCA, Shaktibarre.

Post-workout snack: A vegan protein shake or a maybe a pizza and a cold beer. After all, it’s all about balance.

Brands: Fenty Puma or adidas Originals.


The Socialists


Overview: Community, fitness and building meaningful bonds with her workout mates are the goal of this tribe. The Socialist is young, energetic and up for trying a vast range of fitness challenges.

Lifestyle drivers: A shift has already taken place in young Millennials’ and Gen Z-ers’ positive attitudes toward health and fitness. These generations are keen on clean living, but they still want to have a fun, vibrant social life.

Influencers: Anyone from Alice Liveing, to Iskra Lawrence and Gigi Hadid.

Find her here: Barry’s Bootcamp – or maybe at the Outdoor Voices x Bumble x Modo Yoga pop-up.

Post-workout snack: An Instagram-friendly brunch spot – anywhere from London’s Farm Girl to New York favourite Broken Coconut. (Oh – and expect avocado on toast and a rose latte to feature).

Brands: Outdoor Voices, Cotton On Body.


We’ve established more tribes and where to find them over on WGSN Insight in our Active Intelligence – Women’s Gym Tribes report. For more insight around wellness, we recommend our Active Intelligence – Workout Trends 2019 report.

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