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Survival of the Fittest in the Fitness Industry

Ancient Indian yogic wisdom, now popular globally, reminds us that fitness is a three-pronged, holistic approach to building the strength of your body, mind, and spirit. In 2020, the pandemic brought the need for a well-rounded outlook on fitness and health into strong focus, hinting at the future of the fitness industry.

The market size of this industry is significant, keeping in mind that global health club and fitness is around 96 billion US dollars as of 2019, standing at 201K clubs with around 174M health club members (Source). This hints at the upcoming fitness and wellness business plan in various sectors. India is comparatively smaller, with a growing market of around 2.6B US dollars in the fitness industry, with many new adopters during the pandemic.

The Upending of the Global Fitness Industry

Most of the fitness businesses affected by the coronavirus were already due for a modern-day overhaul, one that serves the diverse needs of a larger audience. Here are some of the reasons why the pandemic opened them up to scrutiny and permanent change, marking a significant fitness industry transformation:

  • Changing commuter patterns and lifestyle habits like working from home, some of which will continue to stay the norm.

  • Fear of disease management in high-contact spaces like health clubs and gyms. Plus, the need to maintain in-person equipment to the cleaning standards that make consumers comfortable.

  • Most health clubs cater their classes and equipment to build body strength, ignoring a glaring need for mental health and spiritual wellness. An approach that brings together traditional exercise with mindfulness training can't be avoided any longer. These are the types of fitness industry trends we should expect.

  • Stricter government mandates on a state and federal level are not going away anytime soon.

Things to Consider While Building Your Fitness Brand

The future of the fitness industry lies in the shifting dynamics of using technology to move away from in-person to remote. Digital offerings like apps, studios, virtual class formats, home-friendly equipment, and more are the new faces of fitness, forming the core of fitness business strategies.

Firm brand messaging is critical for business leaders and personal trainers who need to stay agile in evolving habits while also considering the following aspects to shape their offerings:

  1. A healthy mix of fitness choices keeps in mind that no two customers are looking for the same route to health and fitness. What's needed is a fitness-for-all approach in which yoga and pilates sit side-by-side with running and circuit training, as well as gym equipment and boot camps.

  2. Logistics and space requirements have changed. Instead of large gyms and expensive sports equipment, the focus has shifted to a mix of smaller in-person and digital studios, which include fitness apps and in-home interactive platforms.

  3. Nutrition training has always been an important aspect of health and fitness. Obesity and poor eating habits have been a growing threat to human life long before the pandemic. Finding ways to encourage a routine of healthy habits that build immunity with real food, along with daily exercise, is messaging that needs to be part of a health club business's core branding.

Post-Covid Customer Reacquisition in Health and Fitness

The new fitness industry is fit (pun intended) to take on the changing values of consumers' personal health and fitness. This is an important part of the fitness industry transformation and fitness business strategies.

Apps and Interactive Platforms

The download of fitness apps increased by 50% worldwide during the pandemic, with India showing the highest increase of 156%. (Source) This very telling statistic signals a new way to bring fitness and health to the masses. Hybrid fitness involving in-person gyms, apps, and remote studios will be the path moving forward. These fitness industry trends will dictate the future of the fitness industry.

Group Livestream Classes

The social aspect of group energy remains unchanged, whether it's going out to shop, eat or exercise. More affordable group virtual gym classes have grown exponentially and are likely to remain in place even with reopenings across the world. This trend forms a significant part of the fitness and wellness business plan.

Fitness Games and Virtual Competition

Competitions are large motivators in fitness. All of us have found more energy in our fitness regime when we train together for marathons or work towards a common health goal. Fitness apps open up a whole new set of possibilities for creating fun competitions and games where customers work in groups on their personal goals.

Digital Assessment for Customers

Personalization is key. In the earlier format of gym memberships, personal trainers served a niche market in building an exercise regime around a customer's fitness goals. Fitness trackers and health metrics offer this form of customization to everyone. This is a significant shift in fitness industry trends and an important component of the fitness industry transformation.

Niche and High Paying Customer

High-end companies like Peloton saw sales double during the pandemic. The "oomph" factor of boutique studios and in-house exercise equipment offers fitness businesses the ability to service their higher-paying customer's needs from a distance. These strategies are important for fitness business strategies.

Corporate Tie-Ups for Work-at-Home Employee Fitness

With many companies choosing to remain remote and encouraging employees to adopt a work-from-home schedule, they are looking for innovative ways to engage their teams. The fitness industry can take this opportunity to serve that need as part of their fitness and wellness business plan.

Changing work and lifestyle habits, an ever-expanding set of choices in achieving one's fitness goals, and more disposable income for working families means that the health and fitness industry needs to be prepared to serve every type of customer's needs. In fitness, just as in life, there is no one size fits all. This is the future of the fitness industry.


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