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The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
The Leisure Media Company Ltd | Fit Tech promotion
features

Industry insights: Let the good times roll

Massive pivots, lean operations, phygital clubs, Emma Barry looks back over the lessons learned in 2020 and predicts a boom time in the roaring twenties...

Published in Health Club Handbook 2021 issue 1

What were the biggest lessons of 2020?
As any frisky start-up can attest, a forced accelerator will bring out the best and the worst. Some froze and closed. Others pivoted so hard it felt like a pirouette and revelled in a new world of limited resources with lashings of uncertainty.

New rules demanded a new playbook: we saw a new path to profit, a new clientele, new partners and new technology. Good studios retained their community: the relationship with members is still a massive advantage over Big Tech.

We’re watching a technology revolution in real-time. While it was already coming, 2020 was the tipping point. Depending on which tech-expert you subscribe to, the acceleration during this forced pause is somewhere in the magnitude of three to seven years, particularly in customer-facing efforts such as biometrics, gamification and more customisable software and CRM management.

There’s been a flurry of M&A activity, rollups, bankruptcies and partnerships: RSG and Gold’s, 1Rebel and Perks, Peloton and Precor and Beyonce, Box Union and Title Boxing Club, Equinox+ and Universal and Whoop and the who’s who of fitness trekking to the Middle East.

What did the industry do well?
We put our arms around our communities and hung on for dear life. We were transparent in our communication, Zoomed, social houred, binged, went online with schedules, trained remotely, educated, called people, entertained, took things outdoors, dropped or eliminated pricing to meet the market where it was.

There was triple digit growth of cycle, treadmill and rower sales. Bodyweight workouts lasted about a month in the US, boxers got sick of hitting air and lifting backpacks and pets got old pretty quick.

We took it outdoors – all reconnecting with the delight and mental health value of being outside, feet in the earth, hands in the sky. Nature has a funny way of balancing things out and ten hours of Zoom calls is enough to drive anyone outside.

How can we take these lessons forward?
Thanks to associations in most countries fighting the good fight, fitness is now inextricably linked to natural human function, mental health and productivity.

It’s a shame it took a pandemic to hurry this conversation. Our job is to meet the market where the market is and create intoxicating solutions to motivate the unmotivated, to address demographics other than the over-serviced millennial set. All touchpoints need to be re-examined: the brand, product and systems.

With skeleton staffing and seismic shifts in strategy, people have never been more important. Those still on the bus can’t just be salespeople, they must be growth salespeople. The marketers’ growth marketers. Expect channel shifts of top talent who come from adjacent industries who have accelerated businesses before.

Given that the delineation between work and home has evaporated, what will now be our second space? We know from extensive workplace surveying that our needs when we come together are not about actually doing work, but collaborating, team building, exercising, sharing, in-person interactions which can’t be done from home, entertaining and advancing the human creative condition.

What predictions do you have for the next year?
The future is phygital: marrying the best of online and offline elements to create a more satisfying customer experience. Think omni-channel, hybrid, ecosystem, digital, online/offline strategy – all indicators and disruptors of worlds colliding digitally and in real life. We can all become fitness nomads, carrying the brands we care about in our pockets. Bold strides have been made: biometrics, gamification and connected experiences, leaderboards, social networking. Big Tech is here and bringing its friends. All lifestyle players are dealing a hand in the race for market share.

There are real gains to be made in real estate. Trophy downtown regions are saturated with fit-for-purpose, sound-proofed properties with luxe finishes, ready to expand or backfill, as the property market is pressured with the downturn of foot traffic in downtown areas and shifts in corporate culture, with a demand for worker flexibility, working from home and to meet the new work-life balance.

With so many new and geared up players, expect a proliferation of models, including pricing, adjacent industry learnings and new thought and funding to exploit the offerings.

As fitness sits in the broader ecosystem of what consumers do when they’re not working, there are many opportunities to partner with ancillary businesses, products and services to create new synergies.

Investors are looking for resilience, but also growth and for businesses to be highly relevant, scaleable and executionary in the new world. Expect profits on paper to be more firmly tested. Also expect big bets, as illustrated by the recent threeway between Beachbody, MYX and Forest Road or TSG expanding to relaunch as to Xplor.

Can we expect a boomtime once vaccinations are well advanced?
Was there a baby boom after the last world war? Yes. Precisely. The very thing we’re held from, draws us back. Every time we are restricted and forced to adopt a new perspective, we flourish. Add to that we’re social beasts, made abundantly clear by our pack mentality.

The better question is will our behaviours change? And the answer is yes. Peloton and friends changed everything pre-pandemic, proving one could maintain deep and meaningful relationships with a console which housed our trainers, our community and our programme. And in many ways, more potently because of the power of technology. Cue leaderboards, virtual shoutouts, biometric tracking, groups, challenges and social media.

Will the customer base of gyms change?
Yes. Those with a wake up call will also swipe in. More and more varied demographics will come, provided we make them feel welcome. The industry will enjoy an upswing of general activity with all these marketing dollars being pumped into our stratosphere and all the health and fitness apps and adjacent industries piling into our sector.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

The team is young and ambitious, and the awareness of technology is very high. We share trends and out-of-the-box ideas almost every day
Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

We ended up raising US$7m in venture capital from incredible investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Primetime Partners, and GingerBread Capital
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
Profile

Sohail Rashid

My vision was to create a platform that could improve the sport for lifters at all levels and attract more people, similar to how Strava, Peloton and Zwift have in other sports
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

Going hybrid

Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
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Salt therapy products
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features

Industry insights: Let the good times roll

Massive pivots, lean operations, phygital clubs, Emma Barry looks back over the lessons learned in 2020 and predicts a boom time in the roaring twenties...

Published in Health Club Handbook 2021 issue 1

What were the biggest lessons of 2020?
As any frisky start-up can attest, a forced accelerator will bring out the best and the worst. Some froze and closed. Others pivoted so hard it felt like a pirouette and revelled in a new world of limited resources with lashings of uncertainty.

New rules demanded a new playbook: we saw a new path to profit, a new clientele, new partners and new technology. Good studios retained their community: the relationship with members is still a massive advantage over Big Tech.

We’re watching a technology revolution in real-time. While it was already coming, 2020 was the tipping point. Depending on which tech-expert you subscribe to, the acceleration during this forced pause is somewhere in the magnitude of three to seven years, particularly in customer-facing efforts such as biometrics, gamification and more customisable software and CRM management.

There’s been a flurry of M&A activity, rollups, bankruptcies and partnerships: RSG and Gold’s, 1Rebel and Perks, Peloton and Precor and Beyonce, Box Union and Title Boxing Club, Equinox+ and Universal and Whoop and the who’s who of fitness trekking to the Middle East.

What did the industry do well?
We put our arms around our communities and hung on for dear life. We were transparent in our communication, Zoomed, social houred, binged, went online with schedules, trained remotely, educated, called people, entertained, took things outdoors, dropped or eliminated pricing to meet the market where it was.

There was triple digit growth of cycle, treadmill and rower sales. Bodyweight workouts lasted about a month in the US, boxers got sick of hitting air and lifting backpacks and pets got old pretty quick.

We took it outdoors – all reconnecting with the delight and mental health value of being outside, feet in the earth, hands in the sky. Nature has a funny way of balancing things out and ten hours of Zoom calls is enough to drive anyone outside.

How can we take these lessons forward?
Thanks to associations in most countries fighting the good fight, fitness is now inextricably linked to natural human function, mental health and productivity.

It’s a shame it took a pandemic to hurry this conversation. Our job is to meet the market where the market is and create intoxicating solutions to motivate the unmotivated, to address demographics other than the over-serviced millennial set. All touchpoints need to be re-examined: the brand, product and systems.

With skeleton staffing and seismic shifts in strategy, people have never been more important. Those still on the bus can’t just be salespeople, they must be growth salespeople. The marketers’ growth marketers. Expect channel shifts of top talent who come from adjacent industries who have accelerated businesses before.

Given that the delineation between work and home has evaporated, what will now be our second space? We know from extensive workplace surveying that our needs when we come together are not about actually doing work, but collaborating, team building, exercising, sharing, in-person interactions which can’t be done from home, entertaining and advancing the human creative condition.

What predictions do you have for the next year?
The future is phygital: marrying the best of online and offline elements to create a more satisfying customer experience. Think omni-channel, hybrid, ecosystem, digital, online/offline strategy – all indicators and disruptors of worlds colliding digitally and in real life. We can all become fitness nomads, carrying the brands we care about in our pockets. Bold strides have been made: biometrics, gamification and connected experiences, leaderboards, social networking. Big Tech is here and bringing its friends. All lifestyle players are dealing a hand in the race for market share.

There are real gains to be made in real estate. Trophy downtown regions are saturated with fit-for-purpose, sound-proofed properties with luxe finishes, ready to expand or backfill, as the property market is pressured with the downturn of foot traffic in downtown areas and shifts in corporate culture, with a demand for worker flexibility, working from home and to meet the new work-life balance.

With so many new and geared up players, expect a proliferation of models, including pricing, adjacent industry learnings and new thought and funding to exploit the offerings.

As fitness sits in the broader ecosystem of what consumers do when they’re not working, there are many opportunities to partner with ancillary businesses, products and services to create new synergies.

Investors are looking for resilience, but also growth and for businesses to be highly relevant, scaleable and executionary in the new world. Expect profits on paper to be more firmly tested. Also expect big bets, as illustrated by the recent threeway between Beachbody, MYX and Forest Road or TSG expanding to relaunch as to Xplor.

Can we expect a boomtime once vaccinations are well advanced?
Was there a baby boom after the last world war? Yes. Precisely. The very thing we’re held from, draws us back. Every time we are restricted and forced to adopt a new perspective, we flourish. Add to that we’re social beasts, made abundantly clear by our pack mentality.

The better question is will our behaviours change? And the answer is yes. Peloton and friends changed everything pre-pandemic, proving one could maintain deep and meaningful relationships with a console which housed our trainers, our community and our programme. And in many ways, more potently because of the power of technology. Cue leaderboards, virtual shoutouts, biometric tracking, groups, challenges and social media.

Will the customer base of gyms change?
Yes. Those with a wake up call will also swipe in. More and more varied demographics will come, provided we make them feel welcome. The industry will enjoy an upswing of general activity with all these marketing dollars being pumped into our stratosphere and all the health and fitness apps and adjacent industries piling into our sector.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features
Editor's letter

Into the fitaverse

Fitness is already among the top three markets in the metaverse, with new technology and partnerships driving real growth and consumer engagement that looks likely to spill over into health clubs, gyms and studios
Fit Tech people

Ali Jawad

Paralympic powerlifter and founder, Accessercise
Users can easily identify which facilities in the UK are accessible to the disabled community
Fit Tech people

Hannes Sjöblad

MD, DSruptive
We want to give our users an implantable tool that allows them to collect their health data at any time and in any setting
Fit Tech people

Jamie Buck

Co-founder, Active in Time
We created a solution called AiT Voice, which turns digital data into a spoken audio timetable that connects to phone systems
Profile

Fahad Alhagbani: reinventing fitness

The team is young and ambitious, and the awareness of technology is very high. We share trends and out-of-the-box ideas almost every day
Opinion

Building on the blockchain

For small sports teams looking to compete with giants, blockchain can be a secret weapon explains Lars Rensing, CEO of Protokol
Innovation

Bold move

We ended up raising US$7m in venture capital from incredible investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Primetime Partners, and GingerBread Capital
App analysis

Check your form

Sency’s motion analysis technology is allowing users to check their technique as they exercise. Co-founder and CEO Gal Rotman explains how
Profile

New reality

Sam Cole, CEO of FitXR, talks to Fit Tech about taking digital workouts to the next level, with an immersive, virtual reality fitness club
Profile

Sohail Rashid

My vision was to create a platform that could improve the sport for lifters at all levels and attract more people, similar to how Strava, Peloton and Zwift have in other sports
Ageing

Reverse Ageing

Many apps help people track their health, but Humanity founders Peter Ward and Michael Geer have put the focus on ageing, to help users to see the direct repercussions of their habits. They talk to Steph Eaves
App analysis

Going hybrid

Workout Anytime created its app in partnership with Virtuagym. Workout Anytime’s Greg Maurer and Virtuagym’s Hugo Braam explain the process behind its creation
Research

Physical activity monitors boost activity levels

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have conducted a meta analysis of all relevant research and found that the body of evidence shows an impact
Editor's letter

Two-way coaching

Content providers have been hugely active in the fit tech market since the start of the pandemic. We expect the industry to move on from delivering these services on a ‘broadcast-only’ basis as two-way coaching becomes the new USP
Fit Tech People

Laurent Petit

Co-founder, Active Giving
The future of sports and fitness are dependent on the climate. Our goal is to positively influence the future of our planet by instilling a global vision of wellbeing and a sense of collective action
Fit Tech People

Adam Zeitsiff

CEO, Intelivideo
We don’t just create the technology and bail – we support our clients’ ongoing hybridisation efforts
Fit Tech People

Anantharaman Pattabiraman

CEO and co-founder, Auro
When you’re undertaking fitness activities, unless you’re on a stationary bike, in most cases it’s not safe or necessary to be tied to a screen, especially a small screen
Fit Tech People

Mike Hansen

Managing partner, Endorphinz
We noticed a big gap in the market – customers needed better insights but also recommendations on what to do, whether that be customer acquisition, content creation, marketing and more
More features