ZEITGUIDE TO THE GYMPOCALYPSE
What’s your current fitness crush? SoulCycle? Pure Barre? Pelaton? Or maybe you’re still ‘playing the field’ with an app like ClassPass.
With wellness top of mind for many, there’s been an explosion of new studios, classes and apps to help everyone reach their fitness goals. And that’s made for more options for consumers and more competition for your exercise buck.
Here’s ZEITGUIDE’s distillation of the trends defining this industry today.
Is There a ‘Gympocalypse’?
Just as digital technology transformed the shopping experience, and brought on a rash of store closings dubbed the ‘retailpocalypse’, gyms have similarly been pressured to evolve. But these changes have been to the benefit of gyms occupying the two extremes of the fitness spectrum. In recent years, luxury boutique studios (like Equinox) have seen 90 percent growth while their budget counterparts (such as Planet Fitness) have grown by 60 percent. However, middle market gyms (think Gold’s) are seeing slow-to-negative growth. Similar to what’s been happening in brick-and-mortar retail, consumers are gravitating either toward high-end experiences or saving their money with bargain basement options.
Body By Boutique
In the luxury boutique space, more targeted offerings, and a focus on experience, has helped brands like SoulCycle and Pure Barre to quickly expand and develop cult-like followings. By offering classes with highly skilled instructors, these brands have managed to create an experience that feels more personal and communal. Of course, that also makes for a higher price tag. A handful of $40-$50 classes a week quickly adds up to more than a regular gym membership. That lends boutique exercise studios another luxury quality: exclusivity.
The New Gym Membership
Helping consumers sample all the new fitness trends available are apps like ClassPass, which charges users a monthly fee for the ability to book classes at multiple fitness studios. ClassPass, which has raised $255 million in funding and helped people book 55 million classes to date, is part of a larger trend of bundled subscriptions proliferating in every industry.
The Connected Gym
Connected exercise equipment is bringing gym memberships into the home. Peloton sells a connected bike that lets you take a virtual tour through the Alps or a spin class in your bedroom. Once customers shell out $1,995 for the bike, they’re then charged a monthly $39 subscription for digital classes and instruction.
Peloton, which also began shipping a connected treadmill in September, is now valued at $4 billion. In that space as well are digital weight training systems (Tonal) and rowing machines (Crew). Anyone with a voice assistant like Echo or Google Assistant can access audio-guided classes through apps like Aaptiv. And the next frontier for remote fitness, VR, could make in-home training even more gamified and engaging.
So, what’s the future hold? We’ll see even more specialized fitness studios, with their well-cultivated sense of community. Apps and connected devices will leverage the data they’re collecting on consumer habits and preferences to make for even more personalized digital fitness experiences. It will become easier and easier to program and customize our daily fitness routine, and thank goodness for that. With Netflix and home delivery making it harder and harder to leave the couch, we’ll need all the help we can get.
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