This year’s event was a smashing success with tons of people engaged in panels, competitions, and just mingling with like-minded people. But it wasn’t just the attendance at FitCon itself, it was all the stories about the health and vibrancy of fitness communities around the country.
Which is welcome news! With so many reports out there about the obesity epidemic and the decline of life expectancy in America, it’s easy to think that fitness is in decline as well. FitCon Utah 2023 pushed back against that narrative in a big way. Fitness culture is alive and well. Here are some more of our key takeaways from FitCon Utah 2023.
Fitness Culture is a Community of Individuals
Whether it’s getting that runner’s high or being mindful of your body during yoga practice, being in the zone tends to be an inward, even solitary, activity. Still, the great thing is that the experience doesn’t have to be a lonely one, especially when you’re in a group setting.
You can embrace being in the zone during the workout and then get excited about sharing that feeling with your peers afterward. Truly, you don’t need the gift of gab to belong to the fitness community. Yes, your social group may be all about sharing individual stories and experiences, but don’t be surprised if you unexpectedly discover you have something to share, too.
Gyms, Video Training, and the Rise of Hybrid Communities
Already a trend decades in the making, the pandemic accelerated the move to remote fitness and video training programs. Now, fitness culture is taking off in every direction as more people seek, not just a return to normal, but a return to their peak fitness level with new options and resources to help them get there.
Post-pandemic, gym membership is coming back in a big way with gym visits in 2022 up 18 percent compared to the same time period in 2019. New gyms are stepping up to fill the surging demand of people hankering to get back into the gym, but many fitness communities are also benefiting from the remote resources they’ve developed over the last few years.
Today’s fitness scene really does allow you to choose how social you want your personal fitness journey to be. Those who find the social component of the gym to be an unnecessary distraction will always be able to find tons of fun and super-challenging video training programs. But the newest trend we’ve noticed is hybrid fitness communities with periodic in-person events, community-building activities and promos, and regular remote access to the fitness guru in both group meetings and 1-on-1 sessions.
Here are some of our favorite featured fitness communities from FitCon Utah 2023:
CT Fletcher and Iron Addicts Gym
CT Fletcher created Iron Addicts Gym in the aftermath of overcoming a major health scare. Needing open heart surgery, Fletcher was told he would never lift weights again. Instead, he took to heart the idea that there’s no such thing as impossible. He got back into the gym and, indeed, proved his doctors wrong. More than just a gym, Iron Addicts provides weekly check-ins, other dedicated support, and a strong sense of community. We heard him deliver his signature line “It’s Still Yo Mutha Fuckin Set!” with such authenticity you could tell it was so much more than a slogan.
Kayla Rossi and Addicted to Overcoming
For years, this IFBB pro wellness competitor and AEW pro wrestler has offered a selection of fitness, diet, competitor, and customized coaching programs. Starting in June, you’ll be able to access each of these programs through a new user-friendly app called Addicted to Overcoming. As before, you can still connect directly with Rossi and her remote fitness community through her customized coaching subscription with bi-weekly check-ins, client-centered blog, and text access!
Flex Lewis and Dragon’s Lair Gym
Dedicated, clean, and inspiring. That’s the culture you can expect when joining Dragon’s Lair Gym in Las Vegas. Next-level amenities include over 100 pieces of state-of-the-art gym equipment, custom turf for strength and conditioning, powerlifting racks, free weights, and cardio along with personal trainers, massage therapists, and bodywork specialists. Especially if you’re in the Las Vegas area, take a look to see if Dragon’s Lair Gym is the perfect fitness community for you.
Knowing How to Compete Against Others—and Yourself
Many fitness enthusiasts are driven by a natural competitive spirit, but competition doesn’t have to lead to conflict. There was an unmistakable feel of reverence for featured FitCon guests, a deep sense of respect among the guests themselves, and a festive vibe that was shared by all.
Likewise, often the most rewarding competition isn’t one-upmanship with others, so much as competing against yourself by pushing through your own limits. For some people that’s running a super marathon or breaking a 5-minute mile, or any number of Herculean feats to us mere mortals. For others, it’s simply being able to finish a mile or reach their toes or pick up their kid in their arms.
Something else we learned at this year’s FitCon Utah is that there are countless ways to expand the limits of what you thought was possible. Here are just some of the ideas and stories we heard this weekend:
Given lifelong passions that include swimming, gymnastics, softball, and dance, getting into CrossFit was an easy choice. After a couple years of dedicated training, she placed 14th in her rookie year at the 2015 CrossFit Games–including event wins at the speed snatch ladder and the clean and jerk. One way of achieving similar feats or just getting yourself ready for summer is to take advantage of her Naked Training app.
This two-time Highland Games World Champion knows what it’s like to compete against others and against yourself. Just two years after his second World Championship, Vincent injured his knee requiring nine surgeries before opting for a total knee replacement. Slowly, he transformed the hate he felt into an endless pursuit of self-improvement. His HVIII fitness apparel brand is now known as Not Dead Yet. This is where Vincent found his “Why?”: He’s Not Dead Yet. Neither are you. Find your Why with Matt Vincent’s training programs hosted by Train Heroic.
Schroeder is the epitome of fitness, both as a solitary and community-driven passion. From middle school through college, running track was her passion, drawn in by the idea of track being just you and your shoes. After college, she fell in love with the combination of CrossFit and bodybuilding, based in part on the community aspect of joining a gym and working with a training partner. Now, she’s sharing her passion and knowledge with others through powerlifting, daily circuit, and other training programs including an option for 1-on-1 online instruction.
MIT45, Fitness, and Kratom Culture
The dual nature of solitary and community-driven fitness culture has a parallel in the kratom community as well. Whether as a preworkout boost or creative inspiration, many people use kratom to enhance their solitary passions and push against their own individual limits. Yet, people who discover kratom is beneficial to them often want to share their experience with others.
Just like fitness, what works for one person may not work for someone else. Different people react differently to kratom. Some individuals find all the energy and enhanced mood they need from raw powder, while others use concentrated kratom extracts with no ill-effects. And for some people, kratom simply isn’t their cup of tea.
MIT45 is actively working on building a supportive, engaged kratom community to share the successes and pitfalls of kratom use. While kratom has been used in communities throughout Southeast Asia for centuries, its use in the United States and its intersection with the fitness community is still relatively new.