Futureman: The Future of Health and Fitness (2021 Edition)

By on September 9, 2021

The future of health and fitness is the future of us. We tend to think of our health and fitness as fixed, but this is far from the truth. Our health is constantly changing to reflect the times, and the advice we are given and tools we use have huge impacts on the way we feel and move.

It’s crazy to think now, but until the 1960s, seeing someone jogging down the street would have seemed absurd!

Going to the gym wasn’t a regular activity until the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger made it popular. And our nutrition and lifestyles have changed in countless ways over the last hundred years. Heck, if you go back to the 17th century, biphasic sleep was common! While evidence is lacking, it’s possible (according to the book Sleep in Early Modern England) that 17th century Brits also used to sleep sitting up!

Beer was once the beverage of choice to combat unclean water, and many think that the rise of caffeine during the advent of the renaissance period was no coincidence.

Once we thought cigarettes were good for us! And when evidence started stacking up against them, cunning marketers concocted an entire theory of personality to try and protect their image. Ever wondered where the idea of a Type A personality came from?

These shifts have been seismic. So, let’s take a journey into the future of health and fitness. Let’s see how we might perform, train, and live in 10, 20, 50, 100, and 1000 years from now.

Future of Health

Some Disclaimers!

I’ll be framing this as a science fiction narrative. Keep in mind that ALL of this is speculative. And worse, it’s just based on my own opinions and observations. Which are all clearly balanced by my views on fitness. Still.

Futureman

Looking back on this, it also now occurs to me that it is particularly optimistic. I guess I’m still an optimist, after all.

At least, until it gets really dark at the end.

2025

Fitness 2025

The year is 2025 and things seem the same on the surface. However, over the past three-to-four years, there has been a noticeable shift toward functional fitness. People no longer train only to lose weight, look better, or excel at their sports. People are finally starting to train because they recognize that it can help them to move more freely, more energetically, without pain, and for longer.

This is partly a reaction to world events. Ever since “the great pandemic of 2020,” more people than ever have remained working from home. In so many ways, the pandemic has simply accelerated inevitable social change. Without a commute or a social interaction with colleagues, many of us started to see our health and fitness decline. Movement is the only antidote to such inactivity, and so we find ourselves now engaging in a more varied range of activities. More people are trail running, training with kettlebells, and rope climbing – right in their back yards or local parks. Gym memberships are down but we’re getting fitter nonetheless.

Functional Training Future

Virtual reality is increasingly an important part of our training, too. The Oculus Quest 3 has broken into the mainstream and fitness apps are system sellers that made this possible. The game-changing feature here is hand AND foot tracking, as well as a lighter and more form-fitting headset with superior pass-through and augmented reality features.

Popular apps include a treadmill running app that challenges the user to race shadows of themselves and their friends, a number of boxing apps often used with bespoke ankle and wrist weights, and a sword fighting app that uses weighted swords.

See also: REAKT Performance Trainer Review (for Oculus Quest)

2035

2035

Another ten years have passed and the way we train has continued down this path. And with so many people working from home, it’s increasingly common to train multiple times throughout the day in sporadic bursts. Movement is increasingly baked into our lifestyles.

And we are beginning to see this change reflected in the designs of our homes. There are now options to train through movement. Instead of designing a property to be as comfortable as possible, many are now intentionally placing obstacles and challenges in their own way. Why walk up the stairs when you could traverse up the adjacent wall? Why not add a low passage in the hallway to encourage a little bit of crawling?

See also: How the Environment Shapes You – Everything is Training

It is rare to see someone wearing shoes with soles anymore. We are beginning to recognize that the body craves complexity, and that it is capable of remarkable rejuvenation when we just get out of its way.

Vivobarefoot shoes

Gyms are making a comeback with an entirely different approach: immersive, virtual-reality training. Examples include rock climbing experiences that use resistance machines and moving grips to simulate a treacherous rock climb with a breathtaking view; and a bike ride through an impossible twisting highway in the sky.

Also common are large adult playground-like areas that include climbing frames and large foam blocks.

2040

Future of Fitness 2040

Our work-life balance is now greater than ever before. Many of us work for just a few hours a day, before closing our computers and getting on with life.

This has increased the need for us to find our own meaning. In the year 2040, we are encouraged to treat our mental health in the same way we treat our physical health. Just as we are encouraged to brush our teeth, get fresh air, and exercise; so too is it now a given that we must set aside some time each week to:

  • Learn
  • Move
  • Spend time with friends
  • Spend time immersed in nature
  • Get sun exposure
  • Meditate

Meditation is undergoing a transformation, with research experimenting with new approaches to see how they can affect brain function.

Future Homes

Far more advanced health tracking devices let us know when we need more sleep and warn us about ambient light or noise that might be affecting that sleep quality. What’s more, is that the absolute ubiquity of IoT (Internet of Things), means that many processes in our home are now plugged directly into our biometrics. Ambient temperature changes to keep us at a permanently optimum temperature, music suggestions based on biometrics help us decompress. Tiny chips installed everywhere ensure that problems with air quality are detected before they can do any harm.

Future home

We are increasingly seeing homes with large open spaces: huge skylights and conservatories with retractable roofs. Far more focus is being placed on garden spaces. We are increasingly encouraged to keep our windows open and to turn off the central heating. Not only does this open-air design allow us to get sun exposure and regulate our biological clock, but it also creates a far healthier bacteria profile. Various once common illnesses are becoming rarer as a result.

Many of us now have a “sunning spot” in our homes.

Very few people drive their own cars, with most now being self-driving.

The Technology That Shapes Us

Elsewhere, Neuralink declares bankruptcy.

XR training has moved outside with a greater emphasis on augmented reality. We can run around our garden collecting orbs, get chased down the street by zombies, fight imaginary enemies, and contort ourselves to avoid incoming laser fire. Training is no longer tedious or boring with a focus on increase specific numbers for their own sake – training is play. We are living out our heroic fantasies and exploring amazing, impossible places.

VR headset

Meanwhile, indoor VR training options now include advanced biomechanical sensory capabilities. That is to say that your VR app now understands your precise weight distribution and the position of every limb and joint. This can be used to perfect posture and even coach a number of advanced movements without any need for a face-to-face coach.

Certain “transhuman” technologies are making their way onto the black market. Injections that alter DNA to suppress myostatin are increasingly being used in the way that steroids once were. However, they are illegal, unsafe, and banned by most sports.

2050

2050

It is now illegal to drive your own car. There is huge backlash at this restriction from many, but the truth is that few of us drive at all, anyway. Why would we when we could instead be chatting with friends or getting work done on the commute?

Thirty years from now, we will look back in disbelief at the fact that we once were allowed to control a metal missile hurtling down the road at 70 miles an hour!

Several new laws have been introduced that have likewise drastically reduced the amount of processed food. As the nutritional value of the average snack has improved, so has the health of the general population. Once again: we’ll someday look back and wonder how we were ever allowed to exist on a diet of sugar and empty calories.

Future Health

How We Live

Many countries now place subjective happiness ratings as the measure of successful policies, rather than GDP. Ironically, those same countries – located primarily in Europe – are the ones that are thriving economically, too.

Furniture, ornaments, clothing and more are now largely 3D printed in our own homes. We order blueprints online, making creativity a far more valuable commodity.

Homes are now augmented reality experiences in themselves. Each wall and surface can project an unlimited array of high fidelity scenes, complete with natural light and immersive sound. Décor is increasingly more naturalistic to match. This is convenient, as the weather outside has become increasingly hostile.

Future Superathletes

Medication and supplementation is now personalized and dictated by advanced genetic screening and testing. Regular check-ups ensure we all get the nutrients we need and any deficiencies are dealt with early.

Super-Athletes of 2050

The athletes of 2050 seem truly superhuman compared to those from 2020. This is not due to the introduction of any new super-supplements, but rather better training and identification. Genetic screening means that we can now detect those individuals with never-before-seen traits at an early age. These are not just common desirable variants (called SNPs or “snips”), but rather entirely novel genetic mutations. These are one-in-a-billion individuals who can build more muscle, run faster, and avoid injury.

Superathlete

Has this destroyed the notion that anyone can become a top level athlete with the right training and opportunity? Perhaps, but the genie is truly out of the bottle now.

See also: DNA Analysis Can Help You Optimize Training and Nutrition: My Experience With SelfDecode

On top of this, those same athletes are now bolstered by augmented reality. Imagine a device that can provide real-time feedback during training: that could pinpoint the precise angle of a throw and the necessary speed and angle change that would have made it perfect. Imagine how a system like this might use lights and sounds to tap into the dopamine system and naturally encourage adaptation and change.

We are increasingly learning to tap into brain plasticity, helping the brain and body to achieve things we never thought possible. And what do you know? The way to do this looks very much like playing a videogame.

2075

2075

What about the prosthetic limbs? How about the gene modification? What about the cyberpunk future we were promised?

These technologies ultimately failed to reach the mainstream. Even once gene modification could be safely accomplished, we were never able to fully comprehend the true complexity of the human brain. Every small tweak has countless knock-on-effects in an interconnected system that is simply complex beyond our reckoning.

See also: Flow States Deconstructed: Mastering Ultra Instinct Part One

Myostatin suppression comes with the risk of tendon damage and heart issues. Smart drugs, or nootropics, that once showed such promise, never managed to facilitate optimal cognitive performance WITHOUT a cascade of negative effects. The vaunted “flow state” was a fool’s gold: there is not one, optimal brain state. The brain works best when it is able to natural flow from one state to another.

Transhuman Future

Augmentations and prosthetics, while increasingly amazing, still can’t come close to the level of dexterity or sensory resolution present in human tissue.

The Black Box

Similar challenges led to the closure of Neuralink. The idea that we could communicate with thought proved to be little more than an empty promise and a marketing gimmick. The brain is not a straightforward input-output machine. In some individuals, entire functions of the brain can migrate to other regions. Individual differences, shaped by experience, are far too great to create a one-size-fits-all system. And the complexity of even a single neuron is beyond our understanding: as demonstrated by short-term plasticity and dendritic computation.

See also: Can Mind Uploading Ever Work? What Would That Mean?

The research conducted in the name of Neuralink led to some breakthroughs, though. The threading process being invaluable for many disabled patients. But this was not the step-change in communication that was promised, nor did a commercially viable product come forward. The notion that we need more bandwidth was insightful, but ultimately this same challenge was overcome with a more efficient input method and a training program that taught us to enter text in a seemingly-alien shorthand.

Ghost in the shell data input

Meanwhile, computers themselves now use biological parts that are capable of seemingly impossible data storage and processing.

The future of fitness came more from tapping into what we already have, rather than trying to change our biology.

The New Healthy

Ultimately, the very definition of what it means to be “healthy” has shifted. The average healthy person will never feel tired, they’ll never experience chronic pain, and they will be free from many conditions that were once commonplace. And far from being a dull requirement, many of us now see training and play as one and the same; a view bolstered immeasurably by the role of virtual and augmented reality.

Our most physically capable move in ways that once would have seemed impossible

And our most physically capable move in ways that once would have seemed impossible.

The world outside is in bad shape, but this journey into the future was focused entirely on fitness. And, as it would happen, we are now in the best shapes of our lives. We are happier and healthier than ever before and poised to tackle the issues of the future. The question: is it too late?

2150

Humanity 2.0

We have reached the singularity. Machine learning and big data have advanced to the point that they are finally able to correctly second guess the cascading effects of the most tiny alteration to the genetic code.

The human body and brain remain a black box to us, but the machines we’ve created nevertheless provide the necessary form of abstraction. We can finally visualize changes we might make to the human body as we might use a character creation screen in a computer game.

And not a moment too soon: with the environment burning around us, changing our bodies in a shorter time-frame than evolution would allow is the only way to survive. That, and retreating to superstructures under the sea, and exploration vessels destined for the stars.

Many heavily altered humans evacuate the Earth for a partially-terraformed Mars. A fresh start for a new offshoot of humanity.

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About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

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