Disrupting Sports and Fitness with Genetics — What Are The Challenges Ahead

From time to time I reflect on the work that I am doing both in the public domain as my role as Hon Consul for South Africa, and also the work that I do commercially, namely with DNAFit. As many of my supporters and customers know, DNAFit were party to the 1st ever clinical trial in which we demonstrated that a genetically matched algorithm using our testing procedures helped athletes to get much higher natural performance on some measurements used by Sports Scientists such as a Counter Movement Jump for Power and Aero Bike for endurance. To be precise, the increase was nearly 3 times more on both measurements. This leads the industry and it should brace itself for the genetic disruption to sports globally.

The world as we know it is constantly changing and with advances in scientific fields. Industries that were once at the forefront have now fallen away due to innovations that make our lives much easier and better.

Think about how a world that was so separated has now been brought together to share ideas and interact through the Internet. The digital camera has revolutionised the way you experience your holiday in the Maldives or nights out with friends. New technology and the science behind it is growing faster than ever and we’re more aware of everything around us. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t external factors that challenge the norm.

By taking on an industry, innovators face enormous political, social and economic forces that challenge them and, more often than not, cause them to fail. Elon Musk is one of these men. I personally look up to him for a number of reasons, and of course I’m proud that he is a fellow South African.

His development of an electric car for Tesla Motors is revolutionary and his goal to create one that could be mass-produced and affordable to the public could change the way we all commute all over the globe. But it’s not as easy as it sounds. What he is doing is not only creating an affordable and efficient means of travel but also taking on the giant oil, car manufacturing and transport industries that dominate the global sphere. He is a threat to the industry that is obviously resistant to change due to a myriad of factors. After Elon’s innovations in the motoring field, a number of articles blatantly said that “Elon Musk Just killed the Petrol Car” — if this is true then what would this do to the world of oil trading, and behind the scenes of a multi-billion dollar industry? His spirit as an innovator is exemplified by the fact that he is not slowing down any time soon.

He is already looking to change our lives with such projects as SpaceX and Hyperloop. What might look like an impossible task i.e. human colonies on Mars or a capsule powered going over 700mph getting you to work every day. And he’s succeeding, slowly changing our perception of what’s impossible. His projects challenge industries that have been around forever but if they make the world a better place to live in then is any resistance justified outside of commercial interests? Therefore, we must only applaud such innovators and their strategic and tactical play in taking the “innovation to reality”

The same goes for DNAFit and incorporating genetics into the sports and fitness industries. Imagine being a nutritionist, sports scientist, personal trainer or dietician who largely bases what you do and how you present your findings to clients with a one-size-fits-all approach. Yes, there may be factors such as what a person looks like and what their goals are but these ‘personal’ regimens normally stick to a singular approach. DNAFit is changing the industry by giving people access to information that they have never had the luxury of having before. We are living in the information age where everybody wants to know more about themselves and the world around them. What better way to know yourself than to know what your genes say about you and how you can use this knowledge to complement your day-to-day interactions with your environment.

By incorporating genetics into our DNAFit programmes we’re telling them that people are individuals made up of genes and gene types that are unique to them. I say this only by way of illustrating the complexity in taking innovations into a market, but of course my approach would be to bring the market with you and find a way to integrate the existing industry into the process. So, with regards to the DNAFit approach, we work collaboratively to achieve this goal.

The field of genetics is only beginning to break new ground in terms of sports and fitness and although there has previously been resistance, the proof is there for all to see. What we’re doing is making fitness and nutrition personal by catering training and diet plans to what your body really needs. DNAFit is not attempting to overhaul an entire industry but simply make it better and more efficient for the people involved in it at all levels, from consumer to provider. And this is what innovators do after all.

There’ll always be opposition when an industry is being threatened and the only way to combat it is to prove that this is what people need. Yes, there’ll be challenges ahead but through blood, sweat, tears and perseverance anything is possible. The clinical study is only the first step in this process of proving that DNAFit works. What we want to do is not only change how you see fitness and nutrition but help you see everything about yourself in a whole new light.

Of course what I try and summarise is a pattern that we have seen on the market for years. Porter 5 forces, PEST analysis and few other business models talk just about that, helping understand what forces drive the market and how you can use them to your advantage. I highly recommend understanding these in detail in your quest to achieve market disruption in your business objectives.

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