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We are in the early days of a social technology revolution that is transforming solo activity into team fitness.




    Usually engages in several different alt-athletic pursuits in a month. Identifies very much as an active person, if not a sport-specific athlete. They find fellow enthusiasts on social media. Major market for general Alt-Athlete gear such as GoPro, outdoor clothing, sunglasses and camping gear. Hires the hard-core Alt-Athlete as a trainer, a guide or a guru. As gear and shared information continue to make sports more accessible, the garage will continue to fill up, and the calendar will always be full of activities and adventures. As the casual Alt-Athlete ages, she will adapt to doing less extreme versions of her sports, and she will look for accommodations that allow her to keep going at a safer and less intense level.


    Often sponsored (with products, money or free travel) by a half dozen or more clothing or gear brands. Early in life, competed at the highest level; as they age, they find work as a coach, trainer or guide. The hard core have old-school legitimacy, and they guard and preserve the lore and ethics of the sport. Hard-core Alt-Athletes will be the ones to drive their sports to the next level of public engagement. Some will launch companies making specialized gear or authentic apparel. Others will leverage their status to become commentators for burgeoning media channels, and they’ll become consultants for the growing number of events and competitions.

These individuals are often interested in fitness, but they’re also interested in some kind of self-realization, self-verification; that they have a special talent or a special individual characteristic that they can be known for. Add to that technology, and then stir with social media.

T. Bettina Cornwell

Professor of marketing Lundquist College of Business at University of Oregon

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