“Home Fitness” is here to stay: Is your business ready to embrace it?
Updated: Feb 7
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly transformed the fitness industry. Once customers around the world were forced to go into lockdown and gyms had to close temporarily, people started adopting new practices and begun working out at home. One of the resources they relied most upon at the time were fitness apps and, given the time it is taking to arrive at a "new normal", practices have become habits and fitness apps a "must" for many users around the world.
As a result, growth projections for fitness is very positive. For instance, this report by Allied Market Research predicts that the fitness app market will be worth $120.37 million by 2030 (vs $13.78 billion in 2020).
Along those lines, Statista projects an increase of 31% in global revenues of the digital fitness industry, which includes wearables and apps, from $17.2 million in 2019 to $23.1 million by the end of 2024.
The number of users is predicted to increase almost 86% between 2019 and 2024. This would set the penetration rate of users with an app and/or wearable at 13% worldwide:
All of this obviously drew the attention of investors all around; McKinsey shares that fitness-tech apps were able to raise $2 billion from investors, which is a record breaking number.
“Home fitness” is here to stay
After looking at the data, the trends, and the movements within the industry, “home fitness” is here to stay. Experts from several segments of the industry seem to agree. Dana Telsey, analyst at Telsey Advisory Group, points out in this CNBC article:
“This shift in behavior since March likely results in longer-lasting structural changes to the fitness industry. Once COVID-19 is behind, we expect the high adoption rate of digital fitness to persist and consumers to return to in-person group fitness classes and gyms in lesser frequency than in the past.”
Big corporations such as Equinox are adapting to this shift and are even launching their own home equipment to compete with the likes of Peloton. As an Equinox spokesperson noted:
“Equinox Group anticipates the consumer will want experiences both online and offline.”
Nautilus reports that between 12% and 25% of gym members will never go back to the gym, according to their research. James Barr, their CEO, had the following opinion:
“They (customers) were caught without options when the gym closure orders began and felt a loss of control in an important aspect of their life. In their new normal, we believe they will invest in home fitness solutions as a hedge against another outbreak and will balance their workouts between the gym and home differently than they did before the pandemic. Digital solutions will help by bringing aspects of the gym experience home.”
In fact, their goal is to generate 20% of their revenues through their digital subscription platform in the future, hoping to reach 2 million members by 2026.
Finally, eMarketer predicts that the entrance of brands such as Lululemon, Apple, Amazon or Facebook will drive an increased merge of content and commerce among the fitness space. In fact, their view is that digital fitness will replace traditional facilities,such as gyms. Andrew Lipsman, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence, had this to say in that regard:
“Digital fitness is an emerging megatrend, and not just because of the pandemic. The combination of increasingly sophisticated wearables, personalized health tracking, and integrated digital media experiences—all led by the most aspirational consumer brands—already pointed toward a reimagined consumer fitness landscape."
This is a similar conclusion that also seems to be backed up my McKinsey´s research. In this article, in which they review 8 trends in 2021 for the sporting good industry, home fitness is listed as among the top 3 activities that will experience greater participation while exercising in the gym is one of the activities that will experience least participation.
Along these lines, they also share a couple of insightful statistics which may help shape some of the dynamics of the future:
One survey in which among "online exercisers, 70 percent intend to maintain or increase their use of online fitness even after the pandemic abates."
And then another stat that predicts that "more than 60 percent of Americans who exercise regularly say they will likely prefer a mix of working out at a gym or studio and at home in the future."
The new normal: omnichannel experiences
At this point, it is difficult to predict exactly where the fitness industry is heading. The only obvious conclusion is that “things will never be the same.”
At the time, we were involved with a leading Spanish fitness operator and we identified a trend in the industry in which businesses of all sizes lost between 30% and 40% of their customers. It is not realistic to believe that all of them will come back to their gym.
What the future seems to bring is an experience that combines the online and the offline workout, whether you want to call it an omnichannel or a unified experience. This represents a huge challenge for fitness operators, whether they are digital or traditional, and especially for those with less resources.
In a future post, we will share some ideas, research and thoughts on how fitness businesses can provide this “omnichannel experience” to adapt to the new landscape.
At the end of the day, it can probably be summarized in increasing your efforts to get to know your customers, understand their needs / concerns and adapt your fitness offering as much as possible to them. From then on, you will need to evaluate the resources available to do so and decide on a course of action.
Hopefully, in that post we can share some information of value for your business.
Meanwhile, keep safe.