The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the fitness industry, resulting in the temporary closure of in-person facilities and restrictions on direct services such as personal training. However, the need for physical fitness and health have not diminished in tandem with such declines in popularity in usage. Instead, the demand for innovative fitness tools, tactics, and approaches has only increased over time, demonstrating the human desire for engagement and wellness, especially in the wake of an unprecedented global crisis.
Digital Transformation and the Return of Home Videos
While the form has certainly changed over the past several decades, the at-home workout is more popular than ever. With personal trainers taking their lessons online and easy workout videos cropping up on video-sharing sites, physical fitness is more accessible and feasible than it has been before, even in recent years. Though exercising at home can have its downsides, the ongoing pandemic has proven that the hurdles are less substantial than those of other in-person fitness activities. Compared to the requirements of a gym membership, for example, participants are less likely to quit after a few months when working out from home compared to traditional gym memberships; about 50% of new gym members quit within 6 months of joining, but the same rate has not been recorded by those who are exercising at home.
With a higher amount of digital fitness tools, resources, and professionals available, individuals merely need space and an Internet connection to receive guidance and motivation to maintain their activity.
A Push Toward Rapid Innovation & Expansion
Canadian fitness chain Innovative Fitness had plans to launch an innovative online platform by the end of the year, but when COVID-19 struck, they shuttered their brick-and-mortar stores before the nationwide mandate and began to hatch a plan to accelerate and improve their initial idea. Within two weeks, the business launched its platform, maintained its clients and revenue, and expanded their range of influence beyond Canada. In order to meet the sudden needs of their clientele, maintain operations, and stay afloat, Innovative Fitness made a decision to adjust their approach to their business model and rise to the challenge of meeting and exceeding expectations in the wake of the pandemic.
Naturally, Innovative Fitness is not the only business to make such quick, influential, and successful shifts. In many cases, businesses had to make similar decisions, even when their initial plans did not involve a digital approach, in order to meet the demands of their clientele.
On a different front, businesses that sell workout equipment have already documented increases in sales that suggests a lasting trend of at-home workouts. One brand, Hydrow, witnessed a 400% rise in sales in April when compared to January, and Peloton broke its own record for most participants attending a live class in April with more than 23,000 individuals logging on for the first session in their Live From Home series.
While the advent and integration of advanced and unique digital platforms for one-on-one training as well as group fitness sessions or classes may not be a totally new concept, the impact of the pandemic on the future of fitness is sure to be long-lasting. Even with physical gyms open, the digital landscape appeals to individuals who are working from home, lack total mobility, have a pre-existing condition that makes them vulnerable, or otherwise prefer to avoid such environments.
Even when the pandemic is over, nine in ten Americans, according to one survey, confess that they will likely continue to embrace at-home fitness rather than returning to the gym, especially because around 90% find such workouts to be effective.