The COVID-19 pandemic has been disastrous for businesses and industries all over the world. Revenues have decreased, jobs have been lost and budgets have been slashed. One industry that has seen some growth though is the health and fitness sector.
Millions of people around the world have taken the opportunity to improve both their physical and mental fitness. Crucially however, because of gym closures and the inability to meet with others, people have had to find equipment and software to use at home.
As well as their physical fitness, people have also turned to meditation apps to try and reduce their anxiety levels during these unprecedented times. Here are some of the companies that have seen their popularity soar as a result of the pandemic.
Peloton was already a well-known, high-end company providing treadmills and exercise bikes for those who could afford them. Their machines come with live classes to really replicate the gym or group cycle class experience. Off course, this lends itself perfectly to the pandemic. Based on figures as early as September 2020, there was a 172 percent surge in sales of Peloton products.
Crucially for Peloton, it’s not just the number of first-time buyers that has drastically increased. The number of classes that existing customers are doing has increased, too. The average number of monthly workouts being done by customers has doubled, reaching about 25 per month per subscriber. This is the figure that will likely please Peloton the most, as it shows not only are people buying the product, but they are also increasing the amount of time they spend using it.
The Oura ring is an example of people looking to make themselves healthier in every perceivable way. It’s a small ring worn on any finger that monitors your heart rate, temperature, respiratory rate and more. With this data that it harvests during the night, it crunches it together into one readiness score that’s viewed in the app. Based on that readiness score, you can then decide how hard to push your body that day. If you get a bad readiness score, you might decide to skip or scale down a workout you had planned that day.
It’s also common for those interested in health and fitness to be quite competitive, meaning people can try and get a better readiness score than their friends or colleagues. In July 2020, Oura’s social media following increased by 100 percent on Twitter and Instagram according to Social Blade. They also grew their team by 20 percent showing that revenues are up, and the company is expanding.
Strava is an app that effectively works as a social network for cardiovascular exercise. Although the app works for plenty of types of exercise, the most common ones are running and cycling. The app allows you to track your own exercise, as well as see what others have done and test yourself against their results. This became a new way of interacting with others when it was only possible to exercise outdoors alone.
During the pandemic, Strava optimized its popularity by launching its Local Legends feature that allows people to become the top competitor on specific routes over a 90-day period. Their free trial only lasts 30 days, but with this feature they got enough people to sign up that they made 39 percent of their annual revenue in 47 days.
Headspace and Calm
For many people, the pandemic has been the most stressful and anxiety-riddled part of their lives to date. Job insecurities, social isolation, the loss of loved ones and an inability to travel have forced many to look deeper into their mental health. This is what has caused a huge increase in downloads for meditation apps such as Headspace and Calm.
According to a new report from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the world’s 10 largest English-language mental wellness apps in April 2020 saw a combined two million more downloads during the month of April 2020 compared with January, reaching close to 10 million total downloads for the month.
In order to be seen to be doing their bit, both Headspace and Calm started giving free subscriptions to people in the medical industry. This in turn boosts their public image and will likely lead to continued growth even beyond the pandemic.
These positive stories are all great things for the health and fitness industry. It will be fascinating to see how gyms work post-pandemic, and whether the likes of Peloton and Oura will continue to grow or not.
Euan Burns is a features editor at Origym Centre of Excellence, which provides high-quality personal training courses and packages