Consider the irony: of all industries so beautifully disrupted by the sharing economy, why is there such little progress in the health and fitness niche?

After all, the mantra is “be lean, healthy and nimble” — just like collaborative consumption. Yet, with all those billions spent on fad diets, gym memberships and experts advice, America consistently ranks as the most obese nation on Earth.

How to trim the fat

Collaborative consumption offers a tremendous opportunity to optimize our bodies and our communities while transforming a broken, bloated industry.

For example, take your average gym membership. Did you know people overestimate their membership usage by 70%?

Let’s say gyms made a small change in their rules to let people share their membership with new or other less active members. They could limit the sharing to, say, three people at a time, with at a cap of three months length, after which the “guest” would have to purchase their own membership (with the option to repeat the cycle of sharing).

Everyone benefits:

  • the original member saves money on their underutilized gym membership
  • the new member gets to try out the gym at a fraction of the cost before they commit
  • the gym gets free exposure while leveraging a community of existing member to help organically grow their business

This approach eliminates a lot of wasted time and money for everyone, including the gym that no longer has to rely on hype marketing to generate revenue.

Let’s move on to personal trainers. Right now, there are basically two categories: those who train as employees of a gym, and those who train independently.

Each scenario comes with its own constraints: a really good trainer in a gym rarely gets the pay she deserves, while an equally awesome solo trainer cannot scale the benefits he’s providing without raising serious capital.

So why not create collaborative consumption marketplace solely devoted to personal trainers? Trainers can offer their services to larger numbers of people and, as in any viable marketplace, the best ones will rise to the top. That’s more people getting fit and happy!

Sporting equipment and fitness DVDs are multi-billion markets that likely create more waste than results. How about starting a sharing platform for gently used sporting goods? Or a Netflix for fitness films?

Let’s close with the idea of upcycling our energy expenditure. We could offset the cost it takes to power our fancy cardio machines by converting all that exertion into clean, usable, human-powered energy! Imagine if every mile you ran on the treadmill kept the gym showers hot.

It would be cool to have a huge display board in the cardio room showing how much energy all active people are generating at any given moment. Maybe then we’d start looking up for inspiration instead of down at that niggling little timer.

Here are some sharing platforms with health and fitness-related offerings, but they are not exclusively focused:

As of this writing, there are 1,867 Sports and Outdoor items, which counts stuff like snow chains in Kansas.

There appears to be a pretty sizable Yoga class network, as well as the occasional personal trainer—if you look hard enough.

Scroll down the homepage to locate a Pilates instructor, gymnastics conditioning, a ping pong coach and more.