Classical Music and Fitness: a piggyback strategy

ImageSymphony Hall is full of old people. The exception is during POPS when the program is for children and uncomfortably obligated families. This can’t go on forever, can it?  Old people die.

This summer in Boston, the Esplanade Association launched it’s “Healthy, Fun & Fit” initiative; suddenly throngs of people were awkwardly attempting free Zumba and sunset yoga on the usually placid Charles River. This fitness for all craze has taken the US by storm, and pudgy Massholes are no exception.  We came out in droves.  In 2011, IBIS reported a total 19% increase in gym and yoga memberships.  So who are these people? I don’t need a study to tell you that very few of them know the difference between Symphony Hall and the DMV.  They are, however, hardworking professionals who own Audis, insist they are on a gluten free diet, work out at LA Sportsclub, and wear Lululemon everything.  

So, there I am with one of these folks, (because his “amazzzing instructor from The Club”) is teaching.  It actually does turn out to be amazzzing, and as we roll up our complimentary mats, we are both drawn, in our zen (or whatever) state to the breathtaking Hatch Shell, all glowy amber from the sunset.  A mere fifteen paces later, we join a lawn full of attentive spectators all drinking rosé, an orchestra playing, while the sailboats drift by to our side.

We went all summer long; the city brought in soloists from BLO and beyond.  Of course, the usual suspects attended, but there were also fit, dewy faced yoga creatures as well. People with enough money for new Audis, listening to, and seemingly enjoying, entire concerts they would have never known about otherwise.  This trickery is genius.  I’ve since found the exact same yoga/classical concert model in Jackson Hole and Phoenix. Do you think any of these newcomers were invited on Facebook? Does the BSO even have a twitter?  Does the chick with $400 highlights next to me have a crush on Keith Lockhart? Doubtful.  Classical music is considered by this demographic to be obsolete, boring.  They are too busy at the organic market talking about kale. But here’s the good news:  This critical age group, 25-40, is finally looking to enrich and better their lives.  At the very least, they are trying to appear to be a more highly evolved species; so why don’t we help them?

If opera, dance, symphonic music and the like don’t capture this audience now, the future of so-called “classical repertoire” is bleak, to say the least.  Old people start to lose their hearing and sight, too.  I forgot to mention that.

Yoga is only one example of a current trend; in a world of fierce individuality we have seen fitness communities and group, even “tribe” activities grow stronger.  Streaming music and iPads are all anyone knows- why can’t we assist these connection seeking people into finding another shared experience?  

I saw a lot of white hairs peeking through visors at the Esplanade this summer, but I also saw ponytails on Lululemon stretchy-pant wearing ladies as well.  My hope is that this pleasant introduction will be followed up with a date to a concert or two. With such a strong few weeks, I refuse to believe it was just a summer fling.   


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