Episode 95: Colin Milner on The Business of Fitness

“Keep Moving Forward and Look For The Gaps”

About Today’s Guest

Colin Milner is the CEO of the International Council on Active Aging and founder of the active-aging industry in North America. Milner is also a leading authority on the health and well-being of the older adult and has been recognized by the World Economic Forum as one of “the most innovative and influential minds” in the world on aging-related topics.

An award-winning writer, Milner has authored more than 300 articles. He has been published in such journals as Global Policy, and the Annual Review of Gerontology and Geriatrics. He also contributed a chapter to the World Economic Forum book Global Population Ageing: Peril or Promise?

Milner’s speeches have stimulated thousands of business and government leaders, industry professionals & older adults worldwide.

Whether Fortune 100 companies or governmental organizations, Milner’s efforts have inspired a broad spectrum of groups to seek his counsel.

In addition, Milner received the CanFitPro “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his contributions to the Canadian fitness industry, and had been recognized as one Canada’s Top 100 Health Influencers by Optimize Magazine and as one of the “Who’s Who” in the Fitness Industry, by Club Industry Magazine. Milner’s tireless efforts have leading-edge publications, television networks and radio stations seeking his insights. Among these outlets are: CNN, US News and World Report, Newsweek, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Dow Jones Market Watch, Money Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, WebMD, The National Post, Globe and Mail, Parade Magazine, and Fox Business Radio.

Stay In Touch With Colin

ICAA Website

Active Aging Week Website




Show Notes

As always, we begin the show by finding out how the guest got into fitness. For Colin, it was wanting to become a professional soccer player. After traveling and putting on some weight he decided to become (what was called then) a weight training instructor for the club where he was working out.

Colin was pegged later in his career as someone who could also be successful at sales, although he had little interest at the time. He accepted the position of Assistant Manager and realized that during the selling process he could also create meaningful relationships with the potential clients. He realized that he was able to help people reach their goals by getting them involved in the process.

One of his mentors told Colin that “nothing will happen until somebody makes that commitment ” and that his job of representing the club was to help them make that life-changing decision. Colin realized that he could help others live a better life through fitness and all of that started with them making the decision, to begin the journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Colin was one of the first to really embrace the active aging market. He saw that the fitness industry kept going after the same market, and believes that as much as we have all this creativity, we also have a lack of vision. When it comes to the demographic of the boomer market he believes that what we sometimes fail to remember is that more people have gone into the 50 plus segment than ever before. And that segment has grown in wealth. Their disposable income has also grown from 50% to 70% which is a huge leap. He invites us to decide if you want a piece of that action or not? Or do you still all want to scrape over the 20%, who we are already working with.
Colin believes we haven’t done a great job of using our creativity with this generation. He goes onto say, “If you don’t explore this market, you have nobody else to blame but yourself for being ineffective with it. If you put in a poor effort to serve this segment of the population, by thinking that you can just do the same thing and you don’t get the results and then you turn around and say, oh, but they don’t come to my facilities, all you have to do is look in the mirror because you haven’t made the commitment. You have to explore, make the commitment and then sustain that commitment.”

Colin reminds us that the older generation can sniff out BS, but that is what also makes it really exciting. The active aging market is diverse because as you get older, you become more yourself. We have more, life experience. We have more disparities in income, in functional levels and so on. This is not a one size fits all approach that you can just use. Colin says that the first thing to do is to make a commitment to yourself that you will actually understand who you are serving before you serve them.

This incredible generation wants to reignite their lives and they want to discover delayed dreams.
Colin gives us a great reminder that the only people who think health isn’t worth it are healthy people. Once you start becoming unhealthy, whether it is through a health condition or whatever, a lot of times you’ll pay you whatever you have to – to regain that health.

Colin reminds us that there is also the importance of building social connections. So much so in the UK right now they offer social prescriptions for patients to go and connect with people. He also shares that the new definition of healthy aging according to the World Health Organization is now the ability to keep your functional abilities at a high level. It is no longer about the absence of disease.

We touch on a few of the failures along Colin’s journey and how they shaped him for the better. At 29 he needed to declare bankruptcy and it was his sports background that helped him survive this turbulent time. The discipline of showing up even when things were tough.

Colin shares that what he is really excited about for the future is that wellness encompasses virtually everything. This means you can get into it in a multitude of different ways. You don’t have to be a fitness trainer. You can be someone who is a spiritual leader and then blend into all the other dimensions. You can be someone who is there to help people emotionally. He also reminds us of the startling fact that by the year 2020, the second leading cause of premature death and disability is expected to be depression.

He encourages us to think of ourselves as agents of change as each and every one of us will experience an awful lot of changes. He sees one huge opportunity that has been untapped is what he calls change management. Whether you lose a boyfriend, whether you lose a husband, whether you lose a house, money, whatever it is, we all go through change and to help someone navigate that change, is a terrific opportunity, especially as they get older.

As we begin to close our conversation Colin reminds us that even in times of challenging change that tomorrow will come and the sun will rise and so will we.