Dan Reardon is the founder and CEO of FitnessGenes, which provides personalized fitness and diet recommendations based on DNA analysis. A certified doctor and personal trainer, Reardon launched FitnessGenes in 2013.

Reardon represents the Super Humans, one of twelve sub-types explored in our new report, The New Adulthood. For more about the New Adults, the micro-generation that’s redefining growing up, download the full report.

On FitnessGenes

In October 2011, I was talking to my best friend Stuart Grice, who’s a PhD geneticist. He was telling me about some gene variations they’d found to be prevalent in certain types of athletes. That made me think: if we knew this information about someone, we could probably use that information to tailor training and nutrition plans.

One of the genes is ACTN3, and this codes for a protein that has an effect on fast-twitch muscle. Some people have a variation of this gene where they don’t produce the alpha-actinin protein, and therefore they don’t get the same stimulation of fast-twitch muscle. If you’re devising fitness plans and considering power elements or recovery, and you know this information about somebody, it allows you to add more details to their training programs.

There’s definitely a huge demand for these personalized products now. It’s growing month on month, year on year.

Fitness Genes

On adulthood

I think that the adults of today are in incredibly testing times. From a financial perspective, the amount of money and wealth that’s required in order to have a comfortable existence is pretty high. People have no long-term financial security or freedom, which creates a lot of pressure.

Reality does not match expectations for people who are hitting adulthood as millennials. There’s a happiness equation, which defines whether or not you’re happy—it’s basically where your reality meets or exceeds your expectations. Nowadays that doesn’t happen. I think that people are just generally unhappy. They are generally able to survive but they go from day to day rather than really understanding where it is they want to go. And I also think that people now have a tough time defining goals, which makes it very difficult for them to get to a point where they can celebrate what they’re achieving.

Fitness is one of those things where if you commit, you’ll get the outcome. And that’s why fitness is so different to everything else. With other things, you can commit every ounce of energy you have and you still might get nowhere, but fitness brings a sense of accomplishment.

On the benefits of fitness

Being fit and healthy enables me to have very long days of work. It gears me to be able to make better choices, which ultimately leads to better performance in other things. Because I am so into health and fitness, it makes it very easy for me to say no to things. I’m not the person that goes out for business dinners and drinks, I’m not the person that stays up all night at parties, I’m not the person that agrees to go to fancy restaurants for meetings, simply because it’s not in keeping with my lifestyle.

On the fitness landscape

I actually don’t think an interest in fitness is on the rise. I think that the portion of the developed world that has no interest in fitness is growing. A the minute, within the engaged fitness world, people are getting fitter and stronger because there are so many new fitness devices available to them. But I don’t personally believe that’s having any impact on the non-engaged part of the world.

Our product is only valuable to people who have made the decision they want to get fit. If you don’t have the motivation, it’s not going to be successful. It could be very successful in healthcare, but you need to convince people that they need to do something about their weight or their lifestyle. And to be honest, the developed world does a very bad job at that.

On entrepreneurialism

For me, failure’s not an option. And the modern entrepreneur is somebody who fails. I had an idea, and I executed it—I’ve done that a couple of times before, basically just solving issues that are problems to me. I very much believe in the Peter Thiel approach, which is that when you fail in business, if you do try again, it’s at probably 50% of the enthusiasm and motivation you had the first time round. So I think that true and valuable entrepreneurs are people who do solve major problems, but don’t like to be classified as entrepreneurs.

There are so many choices in the fitness and nutrition market now that the consumer has no way of evaluating them. I wanted to be part of the solution.

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