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Keynote – Understanding Fitness Industry Disruptors

Yesterday I delivered a keynote talk at UK Active’s annual ‘SWEAT’ event. My talk was titled ‘Understand Your Disruptors’.

The headline for this years SWEAT event –

‘Thought leadership event connecting forward-thinking brands, startups, influencers and investors in boutique fitness.With the boutique sector rapidly growing in prominence, Sweat will deliver cutting edge data insights, implementable business knowledge and will motivate and inspire.’

SO HERE’S WHAT I HAD TO SAY… 

I’ve been working in the fitness industry for almost eight years and a lot has changed in that time! Firstly, our use of social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Youtube & Twitter, have changed the way we all communicate. When Instagram launched in October 2010, no-one could have predicted that they would have 50 million daily active users in 2019! This has also had a huge impact on the fitness industry too. 

When we post a ‘gym selfie’ or a finish line photo, we are given virtual high fives in the form of likes and comments, ‘Well done! You smashed it’. We are instantly rewarded for our efforts. It is human nature to want to connect with others and to share our experience. Social media allows you to find your fitness tribe of like minded people. You can search for advice and information, get inspired and get self- affirming feedback all in one place.

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Soon fitness brands began creating apps for us to connect and share our fitness stats online too. Apps like STRAVA & myfitnesspal have connected millions of runners and cyclists.

Another change that we have seen in the fitness industry in recent years, is our use of wearable tech. When I first started personal training, not many people wear wearing chest strap heart rate monitors in the gym or even wearing smart watches, but these days it seems like everyone is wearing one.

We’re able to track our calories, count our steps, record our resting heart rate and sleep. All of this data makes it much easier for consumers to personalise their training. As a result, consumers are more informed and they have a higher expectation. We are no longer satisfied with a ‘one size fits all’ approach to fitness. I believe that personalisation is going to be key for the future of fitness. We have to utilise the data that we have but it needs to be simplified. A good example would be pattern recognition. 60% of the decisions that we make each day are habits. We need to use the our data to identify these habits and to help us create new healthier habits if necessary.

In 2019 we have all the information that a we need to help people live a healthy and active life. We know the fundamentals by now. Eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water, move more, sleep more, practice mindfulness, unplug from devices and connect with others in social environments. We know what we should be doing but we’re still not doing it! Information alone is not enough and the stats don’t lie.

MORE THAN 20M BRITS ARE PHYSICALLY INACTIVE Source: BBC (2017)

OBESITY RELATED ILLNESS COST THE NHS £16BN A YEAR Source: Telegraph (2016) 

26.9% OF BRITS ARE OBESE Source: Guardian (2017)

BRITS SPEND £558M IN UNUSED GYM MEMBERSHIPS EACH YEAR Source: Telegraph (2019) 

(That last statistic blew my mind!! If you are paying for a gym membership that you do not use, please know that you are making a lot of people, a lot of money! Either get your butt to the gym asap or cancel that membership and spend that money getting active in another way.)

Why do so many people struggle to engage in ‘fitness’?

HERE ARE SOME OF THE MOST COMMON BARRIERS TO FITNESS

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TIME
COST
CHILDCARE
CONFIDENCE
MOTIVATION

Many people will identify at least one of these barriers as the reason that they are unable to maintain a healthy active life. It is unfair to simple label people as lazy. We all have busy lives, work, family commitments etc, so we have to find solutions that can work alongside our lifestyle.

This is why we are now seeing more and more people turn to interactive at home fitness, such as FIIT, Peleton and Centr. These platforms are doing an incredible job of helping people to overcome those barriers.

  • Exercising at home means that you can train anytime! You’re not restricted to gym opening hours or studio time tables. Plus you save time by not having to drive / walk to the gym in the first place.
  • They are far more affordable than most gym memberships. Some online fitness platforms even offer a free version of their app.
  • Childcare is no longer an issue and you can even encourage your kids to get active with you.
  • If the idea of going to the gym feels intimidating, then working out at home is a great solution.
  • Many interactive at home fitness platforms use data to personalise your experience. They might send you notifications and prompts to help keep you motivated. They provide feedback so you can track your progress. They offer incentives, fun challenges and competitions.

Personally, I believe that at home fitness will continue to increase in popularity over the next 12- 24 months. It is a simple but brilliant way to get more people moving.

However, there are of course somethings that the digital experience can not offer and you might not have the space at home to exercise, or you may not have access to any equipment etc.

When I am training a client face to face, I am able to see them doing each exercise and if necessary I can adapt a movement specifically for them. I can also give them physical hands on support which helps to ensure safety. Not to mention the social and emotional benefits of real life interaction.

It is important to acknowledge that sport is a brilliant tool for creating community, especially for young people! So perhaps we need to consider ways in which we can incorporate both the tech world and the real world. Gamification, leaderboards and live streaming are all examples of tools that can be used both online and in gyms and studios.

So what’s next? Virtual reality? More tech? Less tech? Regardless of what is coming next, somethings will always remain the same …

In order to take action, people need GOALS / MOTIVATION / ACCOUNTABILITY & REWARDS. If we want to help more people to get active and more importantly to stay active, we have to address these key factors. Whether you are boutique gym in London, a fitness retreat by the beach or an interactive home fitness platform. If you can tick all of these four boxes in addition to providing effective training, then you will succeed.

Let’s be honest, a lot of people are dedicated to working in the fitness industry because they are passionate about helping people! They know that we can all live healthier, happier and longer lives and they are on a mission to have a positive impact. But the reality is that fitness is also big business too. The fitness industry is competitive and consumers are savvy. We must continue to evolve in an attempt to keep up with the changing landscape of social media, social behaviour, tech innovation and cultural trends. It would be foolish to disregard tech as being just another fitness trend. Look around at how people are interacting with their phones, smart watches and tech devices. The internet has changed the world we live in and it’s never going to go back. I’m not saying this is either good or bad, I’m just acknowledging that it is true.

Tech is currently the biggest disruptor in the fitness industry, but that doesn’t mean the death of the gym. I am sure that both markets will continue to thrive. Most importantly, it really doesn’t matter how people choose to get moving. what matters is that we are helping them to move MORE!

I’d love to know what you think about this topic. As always you can comment below or connect with me on Instagram & Twitter @adrienne_ldn

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