A new global customer survey by Virtuagym of gyms, fitness studios and personal trainers has revealed the crucial role that fitness technology has played for fitness businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the key part it is predicted to have for the future of the industry.
The research, undertaken while much of the fitness industry was still closed, found that digital technology was vital in motivating and engaging members, during a period in which over two thirds (69%) had to close their doors for at least three months.
Close to half (45%) of gyms and a third of fitness studios (32%) and personal trainers (36%) used technology to provide home workout content, with half of studios (49%) and 40% of gyms and personal trainers also using digital apps to provide virtual training. The same number of gyms also engaged with members through 1:1 online coaching and live streaming of classes.
Wearable technology has also proven invaluable, with over half (51%) of gyms and 45% of personal trainers using fitness trackers to assist clients in meeting their fitness goals during the prolonged periods of restrictions. To streamline business efficiencies and ensure compliance with COVID-19 regulations, over two thirds (69%) of gyms used digital check-ins, online class bookings and attendance tracking.
Virtuagym Chief Executive and co-founder, Hugo Braam (pictured) stated “as an organisation with the ambition to make the world healthier through innovative technology, we are excited to see the extent to which technology-driven solutions were embraced by fitness businesses to support them through such a difficult period for our industry.”
Furthermore, fitness technology proved essential in maintaining a sense of community among members. Nearly two thirds (60%) of gyms and over half of studios (54%) used online group classes, while half (50%) of gyms used in-app community features. This rise in group fitness extended to the outdoors, with the majority of fitness studios (86%) training in parks and over 40% of gyms and personal trainers working out in front of their facilities.
Braam added “we believe that technology will be a real game-changer for the fitness industry.
“It can enable operators big and small to deliver varied and personalised experiences to keep clients feeling motivated, ultimately really improving their physical and mental wellbeing.”
Indeed this increased digital adoption is predicted to continue, with enterprises pivoting to provide blended, hybrid offerings that meet the demands of customers seeking physical and digital experiences. According to Virtuagym data from the past year, usage of fitness applications actually peaked during periods in which facilities were open, increasing threefold in September 2020 compared to pre-pandemic numbers, whilst usage in March 2021 remained as high as when the pandemic first caused closures. Results from the global survey further demonstrated a 20% increase in the number of fitness providers now looking to provide personal and virtual training, as well as using digital payments and class bookings.
Aaron McCulloch, Managing Director at YOUR Personal Training, one of the United Kingdom's most successful personal training management companies, went on to say “there will be a continued demand for a mix of physical and digital in the industry as it suits the lifestyle mentality of the modern fitness consumer.
“By investing in a hybrid business model and blended services, fitness entrepreneurs can provide more flexible, hyper-personalised experiences to clients to help them achieve a more well-rounded healthier lifestyle, as well as make their jobs easier by being more time and cost efficient.”
Virtuagym is a provider of fitness technology for coaching, member engagement, and club management with a platform delivering a complete ecosystem with integrated mobile apps with solutions for exercise and nutrition guidance, progress tracking, wearables, online coaching, scheduling and billing.
Image courtesy of Virtuagym.
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