(Editor's Note: This sponsored story is part of Club Industry's report, "Fitness Industry Trends to Watch in 2021," which can be downloaded for free by going here.)
The fitness market has felt the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, and what happens in 2021 largely depends on the speed and scale of a global vaccine rollout. As clubs look forward, exciting new ideas and technology have emerged. These key digital fitness trends will shape the next decade:
A fully integrated fitness experience. Consumers expect a seamless digital fitness experience that fits their lifestyle, with a combination of classes that are live, virtual in-club and on-demand. Successful clubs will offer a range of workouts and a wide variety of fitness options online and offline. Tracking changes and trends for seasonality and class popularity is also vital to keeping schedules fresh. One asset that no big tech players can replicate is the community built into the club environment. Member outreach and driving this community-centric culture across social media will be crucial in member retention.
During the next decade, expect to see clubs working toward these goals, as those that bridge the gap between the digital and physical world to offer seamlessly integrated fitness experiences will be the big winners in the 2020s.
Innovation. The response to COVID-19 restrictions fast-tracked fitness innovation. As digital fitness becomes the new norm, the biggest determinant of a club’s success will be quality of content they provide. YouTube and other sites are overflowing with free and often mediocre content, so a club’s offering needs to be world-class to retain a paying audience.
In the short term, expect more innovative virtual and live experiences, including holographic technology. Longer term, the hope is to create an interactive, augmented reality workout that touches on multiple senses, allowing the participant to be completely immersed.
Instructors adapting. As the demand for digital fitness grows, inspirational individuals remain a unique selling point that rivals can’t copy. High-quality instructors are more in-demand than ever, creating a competitive environment that can help clubs attract and retain members.
Pandemic restrictions also brought an opportunity for instructors to upskill and adapt to this new digital age. Expect more talented instructors who have taken time to develop skills and are eager to teach as restrictions ease.
Tech-savvy clientele. The fitness industry grew up with baby boomers and Gen X, but the game has changed and so must the approach of clubs. Research shows that millennials and Gen Z now make up 80 percent of health club members and account for 89 percent of total users of online or app-based workouts. Members of Generation Active have different tastes from their predecessors and expect technology as standard to enhance their workout experience. They prefer working out in groups, instructors with substance over style and smart integration of technology, which clubs must be able to offer to win their business during the coming decade.
By evaluating and developing your digital fitness portfolio, you can reaffirm your position in the fitness industry in this exciting new era. Although there will be challenges, evidence suggests that this integrated approach is bringing more people into the fitness world, especially to virtual group fitness classes. By bringing the club experience into people’s homes, operators have the opportunity to reach the huge untapped market of those who wouldn’t typically visit a club, and help them start their fitness journey.
Les Mills is a New Zealand-based fitness company aimed at creating a fitter planet. Its 140,000 instructors across more than 100 countries offer a world-class group fitness experience every day. Hannah Campbell is part of the Les Mills New Zealand team and helps bring the company’s content to life. For more information about Les Mills, visit www.lesmills.com/us/clubs-and-facilities or email them at [email protected].