An Inside Look at The Future of the Fitness Industry
by Bill Davis | CEO, ABC Fitness Solutions
What Does The Future of the Fitness Industry Look Like?
Since its inception the fitness industry has been constantly evolving from the rise of the Fitbit to the introduction of connected fitness solutions such as Peloton and Mirror. However, in the last year, we’ve been thrown full force into the future, driven in part by rapidly changing technology and consumer behavior. As digital fitness solutions catch on and consumers show more interest in embracing new technology, now is the opportune moment for clubs to take on a more significant role in their members’ fitness journeys.
From the recent “The Next Fitness Consumer Report”, the behavior trends that will shape the future of the fitness industry can be summed up in 3 words: access, optionality, and engagement. People want what they want when they want it, they like variety and interactive experiences, and they want it to be affordable. So the question is – what do we do with this information and how do we apply it to our businesses?
- Lean into the on-demand economy: With the rise of companies like Amazon and Uber, consumers expect a certain level of instant gratification from the brands they support. Whether it’s receiving groceries, buying a new dress, or simply calling a ride, consumers are now driven by the ability to choose from a range of options and see results immediately. Clubs can tap into this need by implementing technology and services that make it easier to meet members when and where they are. One of the solutions we’ve seen our clients adopt is moving the entire membership experience online to create more self-service opportunities for members, from joining the club virtually and managing their own accounts to providing remote access to the club and programming. Some clients have even pivoted their communications strategies to connect with members conveniently and fit their lifestyle, whether via phone, text, app-based messaging, or social media.
- Deliver Unparalleled Options for Personalization: As more businesses look to algorithms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to personalize the customer journey, consumers are shying away from one-size-fits- all interactions. Instead, consumers want personalized and contextually relevant communications and experiences that are built around their lifestyle and fitness goals. To meet consumers’ demand for customization, clubs must truly get to know their customer leveraging internal data and analytics to understand their member profile in-depth. Using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool or member engagement solution, operators can easily monitor where a person is in their respective fitness journey and track their activities and habits to tailor fitness programs and customize communications based on a member’s unique needs.
- Embrace Content & Social Media: Online fitness content and social media allow anyone to become a fitness influencer or access content to workout when, where, and how they want, whether at home or in-club. This increase in optionality has given clubs a direct line into consumers’ lives via compelling content delivered in-person, via app, and online. To accomplish this, operators have to rethink their approach to programming, putting top talent front and center to become influencers themselves. They must also look to technology such as 1:1 or 1 to many workouts, wearable, live streaming and video-on-demand to augment the workout experience and support trainers. By connecting every member with a personal trainer and empowering those trainers via innovative tech solutions, clubs can expand their brand far beyond their gyms’ walls.
- Tap into the “Performance” Lifestyle: The advent of wearable devices such as the FitBit, Oura Ring, and Apple Watch has made tracking everyday activities and metrics like steps, sleep and heartrate cool. No matter where they are or what they are doing active consumers enjoy the insights that come with setting goals and tracking progress towards accomplishing them. Knowing this, clubs have an opportunity to provide consumers with a deeper contextual understanding of the data they gather. Operators should aim to implement solutions that allow members to manage and analyze their entire fitness journey from a central location rather than having to pivot between apps to track their workouts, meals, activities and more.
Preparing for the future of the fitness industry
As clubs redefine who they are and the value they provide to our members, it is becoming clear that programming and technology can bring together the disparate elements of member fitness journeys. Operators must prioritize and meet member needs from access and optionality to goal tracking and personalization to accomplish this. While this will look different between clubs, every operator can craft and deliver a unique Total Fitness Experience for their members.
While at-home fitness options from brands like Peloton, Apple Fitness+, Mirror and others is not new, the industry can no longer run in parallel and expect the same results we saw during previous home fitness booms, instead, they must pivot and adapt. I find this exciting because operators now have the knowledge and technology to blend their existing expertise with “next consumer behavior” to deliver experiences that exceed expectations.