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Research: Fit Tech Leadership Report

Fit tech is a growing, competitive sector. Executive search firm, Stronger Talent, recently analysed the backgrounds of more than 300 fit tech executives to provide insights into recruiting strategies, as Pete Leibman explains

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 1

For the Fitness Tech Leadership Report we analysed the backgrounds of fit tech CEOs, other C-suite executives (i.e. CFO, COO, CTO, CMO, CHRO, etc.), senior vice presidents, vice presidents, senior directors and directors. The leaders in our study represent a variety of functions, including sales, marketing, strategy, business development, product management, technology, finance, operations and human resources.

Our study focused exclusively on executives based in the US, although a small percentage of the executives in our study work for companies that are headquartered outside the US.

At the time of our study, the executives that we analysed were employed by more than 50 of the world’s top fit tech companies, across the fit tech sub-categories of fitness wearables, connected fitness, streaming fitness and fitness apps. This group of companies includes:

• Fit tech start-ups of various sizes and stages

• Fit tech companies that are more mature and/or publicly-traded

• Fit tech business units inside of larger organisations

• The top four fit tech hubs in the US

Our research indicates that there are four primary hubs in the US where the large majority of fit tech companies and executives are based. Over 75 per cent of the executives in our study were based in one of these four areas. In addition, over 68 per cent of the companies in our study have their global headquarters or US headquarters in one of these areas:

1. New York Metro Area

2. San Francisco Bay Area

3. Greater Los Angeles Area

4. Greater Boston Area

Fewer than 25 per cent of executives analysed (in total) were based in all other US cities combined.

Men greatly outnumber women in fit tech
Our research indicates that men greatly outnumber women in fit tech, especially as you move up in many companies. Over 68 per cent of all executives identified in our study were men.

Women only made up about 40 per cent of the directors, senior directors and vice presidents. In addition, less than 25 per cent of C-Suite and SVP positions were occupied by women, and less than 16 per cent of CEO positions were occupied by women.

Our findings on gender diversity are pretty consistent with McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2019, the most comprehensive, annual study of the state of women in corporate America.

Most fit tech executives don’t come from fitness or sports
Our research indicates that the large majority of fit tech executives had no prior full-time work experience in the fitness or sports industries before joining their current fit tech company. Over 88 per cent of the CEOs in our study (most of whom are also founders) had no prior full-time work experience in fitness or sports. As for the other (non-CEO) executives in our study, over 80 per cent had no prior full-time work experience in fitness or sports.

Where do executives usually work before fitness tech?
We analysed which companies and industries the executives in our study had worked in during the last ten years (including their current employer).

Our study found that fit tech executives come from a wide variety of industries. However, two industries definitely stand out as the most common:

1. Consumer internet: This includes e-commerce businesses, mobile apps (including fitness apps), and social media platforms.

2. Consumer electronics: This includes companies that make devices used for communications, recreation, and entertainment. Companies that make fitness hardware (i.e. fitness trackers and connected fitness products) also fit into the broader category of consumer electronics.

There was a significant drop-off in the frequency of industry experience after these two industries. The next five most common industries were media and entertainment, healthcare, enterprise software, consulting and advisory services, and financial services and private equity.

Only about five per cent of executives had recent full-time work experience in health clubs or boutique fitness and only about five per cent had recent full-time work experience in sporting goods or fitness equipment. Other industries that showed up but were not common include retail and apparel, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and hospitality and leisure (HL).

Recommendations
Fit tech is poised for significant growth and competition in the years to come, especially as tech giants such as Google, Apple and Amazon increase their participation in the market. Companies that are able to attract and retain the best people will be well-positioned for future success, while companies that fail to do so will struggle to survive.

While our full report provides much more extensive recommendations, here are three quick tips, based on our research and experience:

1. Make diversity a bigger priority
Diversity is not only a social and moral cause. Research has shown that a more diverse workforce is also correlated with higher employee engagement scores, along with greater profitability.

2. Expand your recruiting geography
The shutdown has made many people more comfortable with remote work. In addition to local recruiting, target top performers in regions where your company does not have any physical office locations. If your company presents a compelling value proposition, you might attract some great people.

3. Pursue candidates from new talent pools
Many fitness tech companies recruit primarily from talent pools that are fairly narrow. However, there is tremendous value in expanding your efforts. Identify some additional industries, categories and companies where your company will begin searching for talent as well.

Download the report

You can download the full 30-page Fitness Tech Leadership Report for free here

Pete Leibman is the founder of Stronger Talent, a boutique executive search firm that serves innovative companies in the fitness, sports and wellness industries.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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Sign up for the free digital edition of Fit Tech magazine and the free weekly Fit Tech ezine
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features

Research: Fit Tech Leadership Report

Fit tech is a growing, competitive sector. Executive search firm, Stronger Talent, recently analysed the backgrounds of more than 300 fit tech executives to provide insights into recruiting strategies, as Pete Leibman explains

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 1

For the Fitness Tech Leadership Report we analysed the backgrounds of fit tech CEOs, other C-suite executives (i.e. CFO, COO, CTO, CMO, CHRO, etc.), senior vice presidents, vice presidents, senior directors and directors. The leaders in our study represent a variety of functions, including sales, marketing, strategy, business development, product management, technology, finance, operations and human resources.

Our study focused exclusively on executives based in the US, although a small percentage of the executives in our study work for companies that are headquartered outside the US.

At the time of our study, the executives that we analysed were employed by more than 50 of the world’s top fit tech companies, across the fit tech sub-categories of fitness wearables, connected fitness, streaming fitness and fitness apps. This group of companies includes:

• Fit tech start-ups of various sizes and stages

• Fit tech companies that are more mature and/or publicly-traded

• Fit tech business units inside of larger organisations

• The top four fit tech hubs in the US

Our research indicates that there are four primary hubs in the US where the large majority of fit tech companies and executives are based. Over 75 per cent of the executives in our study were based in one of these four areas. In addition, over 68 per cent of the companies in our study have their global headquarters or US headquarters in one of these areas:

1. New York Metro Area

2. San Francisco Bay Area

3. Greater Los Angeles Area

4. Greater Boston Area

Fewer than 25 per cent of executives analysed (in total) were based in all other US cities combined.

Men greatly outnumber women in fit tech
Our research indicates that men greatly outnumber women in fit tech, especially as you move up in many companies. Over 68 per cent of all executives identified in our study were men.

Women only made up about 40 per cent of the directors, senior directors and vice presidents. In addition, less than 25 per cent of C-Suite and SVP positions were occupied by women, and less than 16 per cent of CEO positions were occupied by women.

Our findings on gender diversity are pretty consistent with McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2019, the most comprehensive, annual study of the state of women in corporate America.

Most fit tech executives don’t come from fitness or sports
Our research indicates that the large majority of fit tech executives had no prior full-time work experience in the fitness or sports industries before joining their current fit tech company. Over 88 per cent of the CEOs in our study (most of whom are also founders) had no prior full-time work experience in fitness or sports. As for the other (non-CEO) executives in our study, over 80 per cent had no prior full-time work experience in fitness or sports.

Where do executives usually work before fitness tech?
We analysed which companies and industries the executives in our study had worked in during the last ten years (including their current employer).

Our study found that fit tech executives come from a wide variety of industries. However, two industries definitely stand out as the most common:

1. Consumer internet: This includes e-commerce businesses, mobile apps (including fitness apps), and social media platforms.

2. Consumer electronics: This includes companies that make devices used for communications, recreation, and entertainment. Companies that make fitness hardware (i.e. fitness trackers and connected fitness products) also fit into the broader category of consumer electronics.

There was a significant drop-off in the frequency of industry experience after these two industries. The next five most common industries were media and entertainment, healthcare, enterprise software, consulting and advisory services, and financial services and private equity.

Only about five per cent of executives had recent full-time work experience in health clubs or boutique fitness and only about five per cent had recent full-time work experience in sporting goods or fitness equipment. Other industries that showed up but were not common include retail and apparel, consumer packaged goods (CPG), and hospitality and leisure (HL).

Recommendations
Fit tech is poised for significant growth and competition in the years to come, especially as tech giants such as Google, Apple and Amazon increase their participation in the market. Companies that are able to attract and retain the best people will be well-positioned for future success, while companies that fail to do so will struggle to survive.

While our full report provides much more extensive recommendations, here are three quick tips, based on our research and experience:

1. Make diversity a bigger priority
Diversity is not only a social and moral cause. Research has shown that a more diverse workforce is also correlated with higher employee engagement scores, along with greater profitability.

2. Expand your recruiting geography
The shutdown has made many people more comfortable with remote work. In addition to local recruiting, target top performers in regions where your company does not have any physical office locations. If your company presents a compelling value proposition, you might attract some great people.

3. Pursue candidates from new talent pools
Many fitness tech companies recruit primarily from talent pools that are fairly narrow. However, there is tremendous value in expanding your efforts. Identify some additional industries, categories and companies where your company will begin searching for talent as well.

Download the report

You can download the full 30-page Fitness Tech Leadership Report for free here

Pete Leibman is the founder of Stronger Talent, a boutique executive search firm that serves innovative companies in the fitness, sports and wellness industries.

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

Devi Mahadevia

Facebook director of sports and fitness partnerships
With Facebook paid online events, publishers can charge viewers to attend a video livestream on their Facebook pages or a third party video service
interview

Blurring the lines

Les Mills has launched a suite of digital solutions to help gyms future-proof by expanding their reach in the booming online fitness space, while complementing their live offerings. Steph Eaves talks to Les Mills International’s CMO Anna Henwood to find out more

Funxtion: A brand new app

FunXtion and GoodLife Fitness are collaborating to help Canadians stay fit in the gym and at home

Sky x Fiit

Fiit has secured a deal with TV giant Sky, to make its virtual workout platform available through the subscription-based Sky Q service. With 20 per cent of Fiit users now accessing the app through Sky, Fit Tech speaks to Fraser Stirling and Daniel Shellard to find out more
interview

Rodrigo Jesus, Salus Optima

The result is a powerful, holistic data-driven, outcome-focused, highly personalised application that helps people to achieve their goals and deal with the natural day-to-day problems
people

Andy Etches

Founder and sports director, Rezzil
Rezzil was able to have an injured player learning his new manager's philosophy, positioning and playing style – all from a seated position

Virtual wellbeing check

Feelings of pressure, isolation and performance anxiety are commonly experienced by athletes, however it isn’t always easy for clubs to identify those who are struggling. Richard Lucas, founder of GoVox, explains how technology can help
Editor's letter

Big (fit) tech

We’re entering the age of the wellness mega-corp, with the ultimate goal for investors being to dominate health and wellness markets in every channel. Prepare to expect the unexpected in this convergence of health, fitness and wellness

Fit Tech Leadership Report

Fit tech is a growing, competitive sector. Executive search firm, Stronger Talent, recently analysed the backgrounds of more than 300 fit tech executives to provide insights into recruiting strategies, as Pete Leibman explains
interview

Robotic muscles

We identified the need to step beyond the current approaches to muscle weakness, and move instead to placing robotic muscles exactly where they’re needed – inside the body
interview

Preston Lewis, Black Box VR

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Collect wind power as you move

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Technogym
Technogym