In 2020, fitness exploded into a global industry worth $96.7billion. Clearly consumers are gravitating towards a lifestyle centred on health, fitness and wellbeing like never before. But one of the biggest shifts – accelerated by the pandemic – is the move from physical to digital fitness, a move which is likely to change the industry forever.
As the mental health and obesity epidemic continue to grow, the fitness industry will play an increasingly important role in the health of global populations, encouraged by governments worldwide in the fight against obesity and age-related diseases.
While there are several fitness trends that have remained popular over the years, mainly cardiovascular-based workouts such as HIIT, recently, there has been a move towards holistic wellness. Trends such as meditation, breathwork and wellness tourism have come to the fore, alongside an increasing appeal and use of protein based supplements. I am a proud to be an investor in ALOHA, a company that is committed to making the healthiest, best tasting plant-based protein product.
But it’s not just physical and mental factors fuelling the fitness industry; technological innovation is also a key driving force.
Within the fitness industry, technology has enabled consumers to become more aware of their health and fitness than ever before. We can now track every step, pace, heartbeat, and calorie — the list is endless. Having this personal, digital feedback encourages consumers to make healthier lifestyle choices which will have a positive long-term impact.
New pioneering workout gear is also allowing customers to meet fitness objectives faster with high-tech clothing. We have all watched Eliud Kipchoge make history by running a sub two-hour marathon with his Nike Vaporfly Next% shoes designed to improve running economy by at least 4 percent. But it’s not just about speed, other products such as Sensoria Artificial Intelligence Sportswear are used to improve form, performance, as well as speeding up recovery times after injury.
Fitness apps and home-workout products have revolutionised the fitness industry. Consumers can find a fitness app or stream an online class for just about anything. You can work out one-to-one with a personal trainer or join a class full of people, all from the comfort of your own home, at your own leisure. This trend was building momentum before the pandemic, but the industry has seen its popularity and sales skyrocket over the last year.
But it is the companies selling high-end equipment, with built-in instructors, who have really cashed in. According to Bloomberg in September 2020, Peloton forecast a whopping $3.5 billion to $3.65 billion in revenue for fiscal 2021. The challenge for these companies will be to prove they are not just a fad but can become profit-making and sustain long-term growth.
The question is, will gyms feature in the future of the fitness industry or will they be seen as an archaic luxury made redundant by technology? I predict that gyms will have to adapt to consumer demands and implement more hybrid models, with online-classes becoming part of membership packages and catering for busier lifestyles when we return to the office.
Social media has taken the fitness industry by storm. It has provided a channel for brands to reach billions of people. Fitness influencers and celebrities are partnering with brands to endorse a plethora of products, whether it be training programmes, clothing, equipment or diet.
Joe Wicks, the nation’s PE teacher, is a prime example of the power of fitness influencers. With 3.9 million Instagram followers, 2.9 million YouTube subscribers, 15 books and now a fitness app; his fitness empire has reportedly netted him a wealth of £14.5 million and has catapulted him to fame.
Social media has created a world that has never been more connected. It provides a space to encourage other to get active, share fitness content and foster a sense of community. With the use of social media on the rise, its influence on the fitness industry will only grow and, as it does, endless opportunities will arise for investors and entrepreneurs to capitalize on such changes.
There are now so many ways to adopt a healthy, balanced lifestyle. From social media streaming, through to home-workout equipment and apps; the fitness industry has been transformed by technology and the pandemic. It is clear that the future of fitness is digital and, in order for gyms to survive, they must adapt to the new digital and technological landscape that is surely here to stay.