Whilst in Australia, life continues on mostly uninterrupted and safely, the same story is far from the truth around the rest of the world. COVID-19 saw and continues to see losses of businesses, closure of workplaces and a complete revamp of many industries. One industry in particular that struggled significantly was the fitness and sporting industry. Due to the high risk nature of gyms and sporting facilities, many businesses are still yet to open worldwide. While this has been devastating for many owners and fitness enthusiasts, gyms and fitness industry leaders have managed to adapt to the new world.
COVID-19 saw a boom in the online fitness industry and saw a very face-to-face reliant industry quickly shift to a virtual world.
Online fitness could be a part of the new norm
Even in Australia, we are still seeing people use online classes. We see it in university students, employees working from home and also fitness classes. Our country seems to be safe from COVID-19 but recent lockdowns in major cities including Brisbane and Melbourne continue to remind businesses that they have to be vigilant and adaptable.
A study conducted by Forbes revealed that “46% of survey participants stated that they intend to make virtual classes a regular part of their routine, even after studios reopen. A third of consumers also stated that they plan to visit more studios after trying new workouts virtually and that 40% of consumers are booking workouts with studios they have never physically visited before, allowing businesses to reach “digital-first” clients.” (Forbes, 2020).
Affordability and accessibility
Another benefit from virtual fitness workouts is that they are more accessible and affordable for many people. The ability to do a workout from the convenience and comfort of your home means exercise such as yoga, pilates and high interval training are the most popular.
There is now the added pressure that fitness services and benefits need to adapt to the consumer rather than the other way around. Digitalisation allows consumers to utilise their membership whenever desired – home and travel. Businesses can now capitalise on such flexibility – they no longer can only target audiences in a gym during a specific time. Many have begun having streaming services similar to Netflix, where there is a library of workouts and exercises that you can access on demand.
Increase in digital fitness apps downloads
The use of fitness applications, to share content, has seen an upward trend since the beginning of the pandemic. With a lack of personal trainers, many people had to find new ways to set goals and source motivation. One particular workout app, Freeletics, saw a 50% increase in use between March and June, during the first lockdown in the UK.
The industry was already heading towards a digitalised space, however, COVID-19 rapidly sped up this process and forced consumers to adapt to such a change with very little room to disagree.