Working it Out in the Fitness Industry

The fitness industry has been particularly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In some states gyms and fitness centers and classes have seesawed between being open and shut down. In the interim, gymgoers are working out at home.

Analysts at global research firm Mintel say technology will play an ever-increasing key role in fitness regimes. Andrea Wroble, a Mintel senior research analyst for health and wellness in the U.S. says  providing “the person-to-person connection” is key to many fitness experiences. “People are leaning heavily on technology” to accomplish that.

If you’re in this industry you know all too well what Wroble means when she says, “Traditional revenue streams from gyms and fitness facilities have become nearly obsolete due to non-essential business closures.” Even before the pandemic, more than half of exercisers worked out at home. As a result of safer-at-home policies, she says, “fitness facilities are challenged to stay relevant with their members.”

The coronavirus crisis, she adds, “has been an opportunity for digital platforms/services to find their voice in a previously crowded space.”

She cited larger gyms and established companies that created at-home exercise content and streamed classes on social media and maintained customers engagement by sending daily check-ins to members via their app with exercise tips, self-care advice and health-forward rituals to continue during home isolation. There’s no reason a small fitness operation can’t do something similar—even if you don’t have an app—you can send that info via email or text.

Clients might be reluctant to return to crowded indoor facilities. Wroble cites a survey showing over half of consumers report feeling uncomfortable about returning to the gym. Only 20% of consumers say they feel comfortable going to the gym.

If you want to attract people into your space, you’re going to have to ensure your facilities are scrupulously clean and safe. Wroble says the “the health and fitness industry will be forced to adapt to consumers’ new expectations.” She also says the “high volume, low-priced fitness facilities will likely struggle” which creates more opportunity for smaller operations to thrive.

And she adds, some consumers may never return, instead relying on smaller digital platforms that enable them to continue their fitness routines at home. We’re also likely to see rising sales of exercise equipment sized for home use.

Wroble expects more consumers will turn to walking for its “mental and physical benefits” and just to get them out of the house. Perhaps your business could provide them “by providing playlists, meditations, or podcasts to listen to” as they walk.

Since COVID-19 has increased stress levels, it’s also a good time to attract new customers looking for ways to relieve their anxiety.

Mintel’s 2030 Consumer Trend Driver Wellbeing predicted technology would enable fitness in smaller spaces. But, Wroble says, due to COVID-19, “the connection between wellbeing and technology has been accelerated. Fitness brands have the opportunity to become more seamless and integrated within consumers’ day-to-day lives.

Fitness stock photo by Prostock-studio/Shutterstock