The Flip to Digital Fitness Won’t Reverse Itself Anytime Soon

There’s no denying that 2020 had a phenomenal impact on the fitness industry. The rapid shutdown of gyms, fitness studios, group classes and other heart-pumping IRL boutique fitness offerings forced consumers to find alternative channels to maintain their health and wellness goals. The result: From banner fitness brands all the way down to small-town gym owners, the industry had to get smarter and more agile to deliver digital fitness experiences for consumers who depended on them for physical health, mental health and overall wellness.

The switch to online classes and virtual workouts was practically universal across the nearly $100 billion industry, but it brought a new challenge—the community and customer experience weren’t translating as well. Consumers want to bring their friends into their workout community as well as forge new friendships there. It’s the ultimate snowball effect, one that has helped many gyms and fitness studios go on to obtain and retain thousands of members up until now.

With wave two of the pandemic here, it’s unlikely that virtual classes and training sessions will go anywhere. This newly adapted feature is proving to be a requirement for brand sustainability rather than a brand extension, and navigating that customer journey requires insightful knowledge on how to deliver on all their needs, not just some. According to a recent survey by Mindbody, 85% of consumers reported live-streaming on a weekly basis, and many consumers don’t plan to stop—43% expect to go back to their previous routines and add pre-recorded videos and/or live streaming post-COVID-19. That trend will continue to impact the industry, as a recent report released by Reports and Data predicts that the app-based fitness market will reach almost $15 billion by 2027.

As more brands and customers alike are forging a new fitness frontier and shaping the way society actively participates in health and wellness, the role of communications and marketing experts is ever more important.

  • Have a keen understanding of your audience—specifically their passion points—to ensure the brand proposition continues to resonate with current customers and will sway new customers to utilize a product or service.
  • Consistent customer engagement is the hallmark of success. Through a thoughtful multi-channel communication strategy, brands can increase consumer mindshare and further establish brand loyalty while building a vibrant offline/online community.
  • Think beyond just your backyard. Brands now have the ability to provide services to anyone in the world, which means studios are able to reach consumers they otherwise would not have had a chance to serve.
  • Embrace the evolution, because a new era of fitness programming has arrived. While challenging, it is smarter to adapt to the new status quo than fight for the past.

Being able to match brand offerings to the new fitness enthusiast mindset is the new endurance test. Ketchum’s Health Innovation and Wellness team is here to help you navigate these opportunities—reach out today.

Kevin is a managing account supervisor on Ketchum’s Health Innovation & Wellness team. As a creative strategist and the day-to-day lead for wellness, health and consumer brands, Kevin leads the development and execution of campaigns that make the consumer journey a personal and positive one. With a career built at boutique PR agencies, Kevin approaches earned media outreach beginning with consumer insight and working backwards—tapping into timely trends that engage consumers and then tailoring assets to fit those needs.