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Many credit Jack Lalan as the godfather of modern fitness. Although he invented some of the machines used in the commercial gym, he is best known for his television shows that taught him how to exercise at home in a 35-year run.
Since then, the number and type of gym has closed. Some were stingy and hard core catered. Some were luxurious, including latte bars, boutiques and childcare. Regardless of what you were looking for, there was a gym for you.
Then came the Covid-19, and millions of people returned to work at home, a La Lalen. The transformation was so sudden that news reports warned of a kettlebell shortage. The market responded and, overnight, a new generation of at-home equipment and programs appeared.
Now, with the gym reopening, there are new questions about where and how consumers will choose to work. Those who have never imagined working from a distance have quickly learned that they really like it. Could the same thing happen with their workouts?
Related: The epidemic has changed the fitness industry forever. Here’s what to look for.
Who will survive in a market where consumers prefer and differ?
Competition in the fitness industry is always fierce. However, in the past, gyms competed with gyms. Treadmills, stationary bikes, and NordicTrack have competed with each other for wallet sharing. However, the recent rise of sophisticated home appliances – and the desire of people to spend serious money on them – has completely changed the dynamics.
Peloton, Tonal, Concept 2, CLMBR, among others, can all give you great workouts in the comfort of your own home. Some connected machines can even mimic a class experience. Would people who invest in one of these machines feel the need to make the same financial or time commitment to a gym before a pre-epidemic?
Two people can play that game. After they saw a decline in membership during the Covid, many brick and mortar gyms also began offering virtual options. According to an industry trade group, 72% of fitness clubs now offer on-demand and livestream group workouts. It increased to 25% in 2019.
Consumers want to mix it up?
For many, the gym was more than just a place to exercise. It provides motivation, sensory stimulation and social interaction.
So, yes, you can burn a lot of calories in an expensive water rover. It can be cool to watch even in the bedroom or home gym. But the urge to go to a group fitness class or work out with a gym friend – now we can do it again – can be overwhelming. Like the hybrid work environment, the hybrid workout system can be the best in all the world.
Related: How technology is disrupting the fitness industry
What can we learn from Peloton?
Through most epidemics, Peloton was at the top of the at-home fitness industry. However, their sales plateau, and their aggressive growth targets have gradually gone out of contact with the market. As a result, their CEO resigned, thousands of employees were laid off and their stock plummeted.
Although somewhat, it was a problem of their own making. Peloton has doubled down on their luxury strategy and overestimated their ability to grow out of following cults rather than adapting to a growing competitive market. To be sure, Peloton had other problems, such as faulty treadmills and supply chain nightmares. But by the grace of the company the fall did not get lost on others in the market.
Here’s what we know for sure: We haven’t known the fate of the industry for some time. Every year, gyms sell 12% of their membership in January. By the end of the month, half of those new members were going unused.
Related: At-Home Fitness Boom
In other words, when it comes to fitness, consumer needs, aspirations and “stickiness” tend to decline over time. As gym and home equipment manufacturers wrestle for market share, it may take some time for it to shake.