Innovation That Matters

Brain gyms for baby boomers

Work & Lifestyle

Our brains resemble our muscles in one key respect: don’t exercise them, and they’re likely to lose strength. Conversely, many experts now believe that brains stimulated in a healthy manner can better resist debilitating mental conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Which begs the question: how to keep brains in top shape? The solution offered by vibrantBrains, a San Francisco start-up, is to create a workout centre for the brain, patterned after a health club. Instead of exercising muscle groups via a series of circuit-training machines, vibrantBrains members hone their mental skills using a variety of computer software programs and other tools, for a monthly membership fee of USD 60. vibrantBrain’s health-club-for-the-mind approach should appeal to the millions of baby boomers who’ve spent their adult lives regularly visiting gyms. As they approach retirement age, they’ll want to maintain their mental agility, too, as attested by sales of Nintendo’s Brain Age, which sold 10 million copies, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. No doubt we’ll see plenty of additional products and services aimed at enhancing baby boomers’ brain power, joining a long list of companies already selling everything from vitamins to training seminars. Still, vibrantBrain’s model is unique. And from a business standpoint, it has a couple of profit-enhancing advantages over the traditional gyms that it’s based on. Space requirements are minimal compared to health clubs, and entrepreneurs won’t have to lease or buy an expensive array of exercise machines. If the mental health club idea catches on, the real competition eventually may come from traditional health clubs, which could add brain-exercise routines as easily as they’ve added yoga and martial arts instruction. However, even if that happens, there should be plenty of opportunities for start-ups to differentiate themselves—from rehabilitative clinics for the elderly to centers focused on mental and physical exercises for kids. Spotted by: Wendy Hoffman



Download PDF