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Dad Bods – The Next Frontier In Fitness

  • 9 min read

by Christian Duque

More and more supplement companies are looking to a whole new demographic in the fitness segment with regards to ad campaigns, marketing directions, and even in terms of sponsored athletes and brand ambassadors. The reason why is simple, countless individuals are discovering health and fitness much later in life than before. You have ladies and gentlemen that are well into their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s that have always wanted to get stronger, leaner, and increase their physical activity.

These are career professionals, they’re parents, business owners and very much fulfilled folks. They don’t need to compete. They’re not opposed to it, they just aren’t interested. They simply want to take charge of their lives. Maybe they had a bad physical and they dove head first into the diet and exercise plans their family doctors gave them. I’ve come across countless people who did just that, only to find out that they were a lot stronger than they ever gave themselves credit for. Not only did they follow their doctor’s orders and crushed those goals, but many were left wanting more. Maybe they had to eat less fats or get in 30 minutes of walking 5x a week. Now they’re doing an hour of fasted cardio each morning, incorporating weight training, and eating with a greater purpose. They’re not focusing on what they can’t have, rather, they’re focusing on what’s going to help their bodies excel, recover more effectively, and feel more satiated. The more they learn and implement, the better everything around them becomes.

And thus, you have the “dad bod” – guys who got tired of high school and college nostalgia. Thinking back when they could play a game of football or swim some laps at an olympic pool. Most of the dads you see at school events are totally out of it. They wear their pants under their bellies, they’re always in super baggy clothes, and they subsist on beer, chips, hot dogs and candy bars. Afterall, what’s sold at most school concession stands? You’re not going to find lean meat, protein bars, or amino drinks. It’s really a vicious cycle because the parents think they’re helping the sports programs by buying all the crap snacks, they eat them because they have sugar highs, and they take turns from sitting at the office, to sitting in the car, to sitting on their couch, to sitting in the bleachers. Their only physical activity is moving from places to sit or lay. They would never take the stairs at work, even if they worked on the second floor. They also wouldn’t expend energy in opening the door, instead, they hit the button for the disabled people. If anyone calls them out for it, they’ll just raise the C19 argument and say they opt to press the button with their elbow because of germs. Bullshit! They opt for the button because they’re so out of shape they can’t pull or push a glass door for long enough to cross the threshold. Unfortunately, I’m not kidding.

Many of the guys who fall into the dad bod category are successful, with wives, children, homes and plenty of disposable income to make their waning health states seem like a fleeting memory. They’ll buy a sports car, maybe leave their wives for younger women, or maybe buy a whole wardrobe. In layman’s culture this would be explained away as nothing more than midlife crisis, but in reality, all it is, is misdirected frustrations and angst. They’re not happy. They don’t like how they look, they don’t like how they feel, they just lack the motivation. As stated before, a $5 trophy won’t do it for them. Getting all oiled up and wearing a speedo isn’t exactly going to do it, either. Again, it does do it for many, and we all, here, love bodybuilding, but that’s just not going to do it for the stereotypical dad lifter. For these cats, it’s either about proving something to themselves or nothing at all. The question, when and where does it get to be personal. At what point are the fast cars, illicit substances, and various stages of denial, no longer cutting it. As they say, misery loves company, and many of the guys who aren’t living their best lives, will associate with similarly screwed individuals. They take comfort in knowing that everyone in their circle seems on top of the world, but secretly hates their situation. Their wives won’t push them because they, too, have surrendered any notion of taking charge of their health and well-being. They might diet for a wedding or maybe hit the gym for a couple weeks each January, but that’s about it.

Many of the best success stories when it comes to reversing the dad bod look, have one upped the game. Not only have they put the beer down and switched the hotdogs for tilapia and protein shakes, but they took their story to social media. When you see a guy who’s 50, that looks like he’s 30, you want to know what he did. You suddenly become fascinated with what he eats, how he trains, and what his approach is to hydration, massage therapy, sleep, stretching. You want to know if the guy lifts heavy, if he’s a volume trainer, or if he does things outside the box, like training with his own bodyweight, at home workouts like P90X, or if he just runs up and down the beach. Whatever he’s about, he now has an army of adherents that want him to be shepherd of the flock. Some of the best success stories have become overnight fitness influencers. And that level of interest in how they did it, translates to interest in whatever goods and services they promote.

Speaking of promotion, it’s a completely different approach than anything you’ve seen. I mean, we’re all used to seeing jacked guys and toned females, posing provocatively, veins popping everywhere, fresh EDM-inspired soundtracks and light shows. I mean, we’re talking an overload of bells and whistles just to get followers to look at a tub of protein or consider using a particular type of creatine. If you know anyone that falls into these categories, they’ll tell you, in no uncertain terms, that it’s real work. From sun-up to sundown, they have to really push their codes, amplify the hype, and really embellish, just to have a fighting chance of making sales and keeping their deals in place. That said, guys who have revamped the dad bod, while living up to all their obligations, they’re in a whole different car. They don’t have to push codes or do headstands just to get their followers engaged. Like I said, they really don’t have to do much at all. The interest is there, automatically, and as a result many of the most impressive guys happen to be the pickiest. They don’t need $100, $500, or even $1,000 dollars a month. Remember, we’re talking about career professionals. They might be doctors, lawyers, or engineers. Heck, they might be stockbrokers. What’s $500 going to do for a guy who can make $10k before his Keuric brews his first cup of coffee in the morning? Again, it’s a whole new demographic. If they’re going to sign on with a company, it has to make sense.

They have to really identify with the organization and they have to really like the products. Further to that, the companies in question have to be able to do something for them. That might mean helping grow their audience, maybe helping them get on television, or perhaps making them the central focus of their marketing campaigns. Remember who we’re dealing with and the amazing revenue streams this demographic presents. If we’re talking about a 40yr old Wall St. broker or a 50 year old real estate mogul, they’re not going to identify with 300lb Nick Walker. They probably won’t be too moved by a guy doing about-faces in beach shorts, either. On the other hand, if they see a 45yr old dentist, with a wife, four kids, mortgage payments, building four college funds simultaneously and somehow getting up at 5AM to do cardio, lift, shower and get dressed BEFORE anyone in his family has even woken up in the morning, THAT is going spark their interest. Once that happens, then their semi-dead / largely dormant, competitive side will start to make itself felt again. It’s that combination of inspiration and competitiveness that just might be the catalyst to get a great many guys who are one bucket of fried chicken away from a heart attack, to want to do cardio, lift weights, and have jaw-dropping physiques at the pool!

The key to being successful in business is knowing who your customer base is, and having the guts to find new ones. I’ve often said that Masters Bodybuilding is a goldmine for supp companies. Most Masters-age athletes get low prize money, no coverage, yet have huge spending power and a tried and true presence in the fitness industry. The same can be said about guys who, would otherwise, have dad bods and will never look at a bodybuilding show, much less compete in one. The question is, which companies are going to corner the market? Those that do, will ride a crispy wave all the way to the bank! There’s big money in DAD BODS!