For many fitness professionals, the COVID-19 pandemic is the first real crisis they have faced in their careers. The economy has been on a tear since the 2008 housing crisis. The invention of Instagram has skyrocketed bottom lines for trainers and influencers. And the commercial real estate developing boom has ushered in a wave of new fitness concepts around the world.
COVID-19 introduced economic realities and uncertainties to the entrepreneurs and professionals that they have been forced to overcome. Some of the changes and band-aid solutions might slowly die, but there are a few that will inevitably change the fitness industry forever.
Here are 4 ways COVID-19 will change the fitness industry.
Virtual Now Has a Bigger Slice of the Pie
Prior to COVID-19, brands like Peloton and Mirror were causing major disruption in the fitness industry. Their engaging and community driven platforms were attracting consumers of all demographics, offering an at-home experience that couldn’t be ignored.
COVID-19 introduced nationwide stay-at-home orders, forcing consumers to embrace virtual alternatives to their brick and mortar experiences. That was the better part of eight or more weeks ago, depending where you live. By now, consumers have adopted new behaviors, patterns, and routines. When the doors finally open to their favorite gym, some consumers just won’t return. They have been lost for good.
Brands Will Need to Develop an Omnichannel Experience
Now, all hope is not lost for brick and mortar fitness. Savvy owners quickly pivoted during lockdown and whipped up digital offerings of their own, utilizing popular platforms like Zoom to deliver at-home experiences to their guests.
Now these solutions might have been intended as a short-term life raft, but make no mistake, consumers will have their eye on them in “The New Normal.” That’s why brands will need to develop omnichannel experiences to attract and retain members. In other words – find a way to deliver your product both in person and online, or risk going out of business.
Full-Service Studios Will Become More Desirable
Virtual fitness solutions can deliver on-demand options at the click of a button – boxing, yoga, spinning, bootcamp, and more. This endless menu falls in line with recent fitness trends – consumers like variety and don’t want to commit to one thing. Hello Classpass.
But what virtual fitness can’t do quite as well, is replicate the in-person experience. With cautious consumers worried about their health, and new safety measures being implemented by local governments, consumers might be wary about bouncing around from place to place.
That’s why facilities that provide a full menu of services will have an upper hand in this new normal. They can offer the variety consumers crave at a perceived or realized reduced risk.
Consumers Will Be Hyper-Aware of Sanitation Policies
What might have gone unnoticed simply eight weeks ago, will now be center stage, with no sign of changing. Consumers will want to know how their favorite gym, or any gym the intend to patron, is keeping the place clean.
How often is equipment being sanitized? Are there any social distancing policies in place? What about contactless payment? And how are you monitoring and enforcing all of these policies and behaviors?
The winners will have to be practical, yet creative. Welcoming, yet strict. And it will have to be consistent and visible to members, to give them peace of mind.