Perspiring for the fitness consumer

During the COVID-19 epidemic, fitness clients’ habits changed, allowing fitness sector providers to rethink their value propositions and target certain niches. Fitness customers continue to employ a growing variety of services, tools, and solutions to help them look, feel, and function better while other goods and services fight fiercely for a limited number of consumer transactions. The market for health and wellness products and services grows at a rate of 7 to 14 % every year, depending on the region. The white space around new movements, activity measurement, experiences, and more is being filled by an even more fragmented market of complementary products.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which drove significant sections of the world’s population to isolate with members of their families has sparked a movement toward tailored at-home workouts and elevated the importance of general fitness. 42 % of consumers believe wellbeing to be a high priority in their everyday lives. The growing number of fitness options and exact numbers are hard to come by, but fitness-tech applications attracted a record-breaking $2 billion in funding from investors in 2020 now attempt to meet this need in increasingly diversified ways.

Prior to the epidemic, the same customer might have added a smartwatch, a social-fitness app, an at-home training solution, and a few boutique studio sessions with pals to their health club membership. As vaccines become more widely available, it’s unclear what will happen to fitness consumers whether their use of at-home remedies and equipment will keep them away from the gym or prompt them to return.

Nowhere to Go But Looking to Move

Consumer awareness of the importance of health and wellness has increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 68 % stating that they prioritized their health more after the outbreak. Exercise is also the most often reported method for reducing stress, with 67 % of gym-goers claiming to use it as a stress reliever. The percentage of these customers who said they used mobile apps to achieve their health and fitness goals jumped from roughly 49% before the COVID-19 outbreak to 74% in June 2020. Consumers who exercised at home and spent money on technology solutions throughout the epidemic.

Consumers return to gyms and studios in those areas as vaccines become available and pandemic restrictions lessen, while also continuing to use non-gym alternatives. In short, consumers are finding new methods to stay active, and industry players must figure out how to best serve customers who now have a variety of options.

On-site fitness: From in-person to hybrid

Because of the pandemic, the $100 billion global health club sector has had to adapt its operations to reduce person-to-person interaction. Traditional gyms and studios still have a chance: In February 2021, 35% of customers went to the gym or studio at least once, and 65% of fitness consumers said they miss their gym as much as they miss their family and friends. Fully vaccinated consumers went to the gym 34% of the time, a higher percentage than the prepandemic market penetration of roughly 25% in the United States. As the economy recovers, gyms and studios should reconsider their value propositions and place them in the context of consumers’ fitness portfolios, emphasizing their potential as third places community hubs where members can focus on themselves.

For gyms and studios, reaching wellness lovers, researcher-experimenters, and traditionalists can be crucial. Traditionalists who have not yet formed new habits may reintroduce gyms and studios into their routines once they feel secure. Similarly, the multiplicity of novel alternatives is likely to draw researcher-experimenters.

Gyms and studios should clarify their value propositions for their target consumers and, if required, adjust them in addition to identifying the best community type for a club’s and its members’ values. One potential area for improvement is to examine floor-space use and productivity in the same way that a typical retailer would.

Gyms and studios should consider partnering with supplementary service providers to fit into consumers’ fitness habit portfolios. A gym and a fitness tracker may make good partners depending on their value propositions and ambitions. Even pre-pandemic, a fitness studio network, teamed with an indoor-cycling chain to engage members with their shared value proposition of live performance tracking. Traditional on-site fitness players may have the potential to give data and performance tracking in creative areas such as power measured by someone’s output in watts, thanks to the continual expansion of fit-tech capabilities.

In-home and DIY fitness: From alternative to standard

Digital-enabled solutions have progressed from low-cost alternatives and add-ons to stand-alone offers that are now a regular part of consumers’ lives outside of gyms and studios. Wellness enthusiasts and researcher-experimenters alike may find these types of solutions appealing because of their convenience and customization.

The market for in-home and DIY exercise solutions and equipment, on the other hand, will be fiercely competitive. Many entrepreneurs and investors have flocked to this industry, and the number of good and new solutions is fast growing. In addition, when more people return to the gym as their economies recover, the number of new customers for in-home equipment may slow. Manufacturers of linked equipment should plan for a partial rebalancing of their client base back toward commercial businesses and assess the possible returns of special equipment offers targeted at specific consumer segments to prepare themselves.

During the pandemic, downloads and use of exercise and wellness applications increased, but the people appear to be the primary pull. Overall, downloads of health and fitness applications increased by 27% during the lockdown, but apps with a community component saw four times the number of downloads. Designing and positioning health and fitness apps as facilitators and gateways to fitness-minded communities is one lesson for app developers.

Apps that permit live digital broadcasting of sessions, often with sought-after instructors who address individual students by name, can duplicate some of the sense of community that individuals experience from an in-person group fitness class. Large technology businesses have already begun to create their fitness ecosystems, which include class selection and fitness tracking. App providers should develop their user communities in preparation for a moment when more customers return to gyms and studios, to keep users coming back.

An Increasing Need for Data Security

Manufacturers of connected equipment and digital fitness players must remain diligent in protecting themselves and their customers. In July 2020, a ransomware attack on a large wearables company shut down its ecosystem for consumers, needing days of recovery. Another connected-fitness-solution supplier was recently discovered to have an exposed API, allowing hackers to access user data. Data security should be a top focus for organizations that hold consumer data, as the prospect of critical information breaches or outright extortion assaults is proving to be a very real issue that can catch an unprepared industry player off guard. A data breach is, after all, a violation of trust that can harm customer relationships.

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