The consumer genomics industry has rapidly expanded in the past few years, due to the popularity of ancestry services and increased efficiency in DNA collection methods. People can now learn the secrets of their genetic blueprints with increased speed and accuracy. What this means for the industry as a whole is exploring new avenues to utilize this information for delivering profitable consumer-driven services. While ancestry may have opened the door, the health and fitness industries are poised to be the next wave of genomics services.
Advancements in the study of fitness’ genetic components have begun slowly registering in the public consciousness. Whereas previous approaches to fitness and exercise essentially advocated hard work and self-discipline, the nascent field of fitness genomics is turning that notion on its head. Rather than advocate a hard work above all approach, fitness genomics is focused on finding the right workouts and fitness regimens for individuals based on their genetic marker maps. Instead of the standard, one-size-fits-all approach, fitness genomics instead seeks to optimize every individual’s in-born abilities and inclinations.
Some people are naturally pre-disposed to be better marathon runners than sprinters, others are naturally efficient weightlifters while others struggle to build muscle and definition. This differences are not based in lack of effort but rather variations in genetic makeup. For example, the ACSL1 gene has been previously linked to affecting the body’s ability to metabolize fat. There are a number of ways to assess these fitness-related markers.
First, there is the obvious full genetic collection and SNP testing method that companies perform for their suite of services, including fitness. Another approach is to assess a person’s phenotypes. Phenotypes are the actual physical traits expressed by specific gene combinations. For individuals looking to understand what physical traits they can enhance without delving into the deeper genetic roots, phenotype analysis is a practical route to explore and one that fitness genomics can profit from as a whole.
Once a person’s genome is analyzed and they discover what markers affect them, the next step is interpreting that information and putting it to use. Using a proprietary algorithm, the company provides consumers with a set fitness score, based upon a variety of genetic markers affecting muscle fiber development, metabolizing fat, oxygen usage, etc.
This score is then used to help consumers to choose from a variety of exercises designed to help optimize their health by accentuating those markers’ positive attributes. Instead of searching for the perfect workout through trial and error, people can now stick to workouts that play to their genetic strengths. Both workout time and effort are reduced while results improve.
With both wearables and the Internet of Things gaining ground in both pop culture and the consumer market, migrating this data over to consumers for planned action is the next logical step. Personal health apps and wearables accessing this data for daily workout usage is a strategy consumers will adopt..
Fitness genomics is poised to reinvent the entire health industry, similar to the introduction of supplements. People will understand how to approach a healthier lifestyle that fits how they were literally born to be. This future vision is not one decades in the making; it has already arrived.