The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a sudden halt to the booming fitness market. But not all segments have faltered. Some even have profited from the recent developments. We take a look at the situation before Corona hit, the changes it caused, and the trends that will follow in 2021.
“Our data confirms the essential role health clubs play in promoting and maintaining the wellbeing of consumers,” said Jay Ablondi, executive vice president for global products for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), an organization that is set to grow, protect, and promote the health and fitness industry. Summarizing the insights from the IHRSA’s “COVID Era Fitness Consumer Report” for the U.S., he continues: “With 70 percent of members relying on their gyms to maintain their overall health, Americans are looking at getting back to, maintaining and even improving their exercise habits – and noting nothing but confidence in their gyms to be safe, comfortable and clean. Clearly, there’s no replacement.”
The study “overwhelmingly found that gymgoers look forward to returning to their gym – and at least one aspect of physically being in their gym (95 percent). In fact, when asked what they missed most, the only thing Americans miss more than going to the gym (59 percent) is visiting their loved ones (65 percent) – more so than going to concerts or games (55 percent), bars or restaurants (51 percent) or even seeing movies in theaters (46 percent).“
This data confirms the important role that fitness and exercising play in the life of many people. The major reasons for this are rising awareness regarding their health and fitness, but also government initiatives to promote healthy lifestyle and the increase in obese population, as more and more overweight people start to fight their disease by working out regularly.
To dive deeper into this, let’s have a look at the situation in the 5 most important segments of the fitness market before the pandemic hit: Fitness Clubs, Fitness Equipment, Fitness Apparel, Wearables & Apps, and Nutrition, Drinks & Supplements.
A) Fitness Clubs
In pre-COVID times, fitness clubs worldwide enjoyed a steady boom. According to the “2020 IHRSA Global Report”, the global health and fitness club industry generated estimated revenues of USD 96.7 billion in 2019, compared to USD 67.19 billion in 2009. There were 205,180 fitness and health clubs (128,520 in 2009) with 184.61 million members (119.53 million in 2009) worldwide.
The IHRSA report also stated that the U.S. lead all markets in memberships (64.2 million), facilities (41,370), and revenue (USD35 billion). Germany ranked second in membership at 11.7 million, while Brazil ranked second in the number of health clubs with 29,525 facilities. Germany and the U.K. were tied for second in industry revenue as each market generated roughly USD6.2 billion in 2019.
- In predicting the persistence of this strong growth, The Health and Fitness Club Market Report 2019 found out that the health and fitness club market is expected to reach USD 147.11 billion by 2024, witnessing a CAGR of 7.81% during the forecast period, 2019-2024. “The most active companies (in the U.S.) in the market include key players, such as LA Fitness International LLC, Planet Fitness, LTF Holdings Inc (Life Time Fitness), 24 Hour Fitness, and Gold’s Gym International “, the report found out.
- According to the “Club Industry’s Top 100 Health Clubs of 2019 “, a list that ranks the companies by 2018 gross revenue, “LA Fitness, Irvine, California, claimed the top spot on the Top 100 Clubs list for the sixth consecutive year. Reliable industry sources reported that the company’s 2018 revenue was USD2.09 billion.“ Life Time, Chanhassen, Minnesota, followed with a revenue of USD1.75 billion, a growth of 12.9 percent compared to 2017. Third in the ranking was 24 Hour Fitness, San Ramon, California, with USD1.51 billion revenue in 2018, representing an increase of 4.8 percent. They filed for bankruptcy though in 2020.
- In another summary stressing the stark growth of the fitness club industry before 2020, Club Industry pointed out that 18 fitness companies made the 2019 Inc. 5000 list, which ranks the fastest-growing private companies in the United States. Leading among the fitness clubs is Restore Hyper Wellness, Austin, Texas, on rank 113, with USD5.1 million revenues and a growth of 3,031%. The company was also declared the “#1 Hottest Franchise In America “ by Inc. 5000.
- But let’s have a look at the second strong market in the fitness world, Europe. The “European Health & Fitness Market Report 2020“ by Deloitte states the total revenues of fitness clubs in Europe in 2019 were EUR28.2 billion (+3%) compared to 2018, with 63,644 clubs (+2.3%) and 64.8 million fitness club members (+3.8%) all over the continent. Compared to 2018, this meant a growth in revenues of 3% and in the number of members of 3.8%.
- A survey in the strongest European market, Germany, showed that Fitness training is the sport with the largest number of memberships and therefore the most popular training form in the country. With 11.1 million members, fitness is far ahead of football (7.1 million) and gymnastics (5.0 million), the „Eckdaten der deutschen Fitnesswirtschaft 2019 “ by the Employer Association of German Fitness and Health Facilities (DSSV) showed.
- The Deloitte report also finds that the development was predominantly driven by low-cost operators such as Basic-Fit (+380,000 members), clever fit (+230,000), FitX (+133,000), PureGym (+123,000), EASYFITNESS (+110,000), RSG Group (+100,000), VivaGym Group (+80,000) and The Gym Group (+70,000).
- Deloitte also says: “Basic-Fit (2.2 million), German operator RSG Group (2.1 million members), and British market leader PureGym (1.1 million) solidified their positions as the top 3 European operators in terms of membership. In terms of revenue, British premium operator David Lloyd Leisure (DLL) retained first place by a considerable margin with revenues of EUR587 million in 2019, which represents an increase of 7.7% compared with 2018. Ranking second is Basic-Fit (EUR515 million). Norway-based SATS Group (EUR405 million) ranks third, followed by Switzerland-based Migros Group (EUR367 million) and German market leader RSG Group (EUR365 million).”
In a more recent review, Business Insider in cooperation with SimilarWeb listed the 15 fastest-growing fitness companies in 2020, according to digital traffic. “While gyms and boutique studios are going bankrupt,” they say, “some digital fitness brands and websites like Peloton and Fringesport are seeing growth. While chains like Flywheel, Gold’s Gym, 24 Hour Fitness, and YogaWorks have all filed for bankruptcy amid the pandemic, the data specifically ranks the 15 highest-performing brands by year-over-year average monthly traffic growth from March 1 to July 31.” Schwinn, best known for indoor cycling bikes, ellipticals, treadmills and rowers, is ranked third, with average monthly visits to site of 248,000 and a year-over-year-growth of 472.5%. On second place is Tonal, an at-home strength training machine that uses magnets and electricity to change resistance (383,000 / + 604%), while PowerBlock, manufacturer of adjustable dumbbells, has shown the fastest growth (211,000 / +648.1%).
B) Fitness Equipment
This data leads us directly into the second part of our fitness market overview, the fitness equipment segment, which includes cardiovascular training equipment such as elliptical machines, treadmills, exercise bikes or stair climbers, as well as strength training equipment such as weightlifting machines, barbells and ladders, extension machines, or power racks. The market for fitness equipment is divided into the home and the institutional exercise equipment market, which includes fitness & health clubs, corporations and hotels.
According to a report published by Allied Market Research, titled “Fitness Equipment Market by Type, and End User: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2020–2027,” the global fitness equipment market size was “USD11.5 billion in 2019, and is projected to reach USD15.2 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 3.5% from 2020 to 2027.”
In their “Fitness Equipment Market Size“ report, Global Market Insights refers to similar figures, citing the “Fitness Equipment Market size valued at USD12 billion in 2019 and is anticipated to grow at 4% CAGR between 2020 and 2026”. They also predict that “the fitness equipment market will witness a small dip in 2020 due to recent coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic”. This also shows though that many companies have reacted to the new situation as “several fitness equipment manufacturers are launching advanced home fitness equipment in the market. This helps them strengthen their product portfolio and increase market dominance.”
Major companies in the field include Life Fitness and Cybex International, both owned by KPS Capital Partners (2018 revenues: USD1 billion, then sold to KPS, no revenues published anymore since then), ICON Health & Fitness (2019/20 revenue: USD1 billion), Nautilus (2019 revenue: USD309.3 million) and Peloton Interactive (2020 revenue: USD1.826 billion); all hailing from the U.S. Plus, there is Precor, owned by Amer Sports which is owned by China-based Anta Sports Products Limited (2018 revenues: USD378.8 million, then sold to Anta, no revenues published anymore since then), Dyaco International (Taiwan, 2019 revenues: USD191.72 million), Johnson Health Tech (Taiwan, 2019 revenues: USD831.46 million); Nantong Yida Sports (China), Northern Lights (Canada, 2019 revenues: USD26.09 million), and Schnell Trainingsgeräte (Germany). Another strong player is Technogym (Italy, 2018 revenues: USD668.9 million).
One of the major beneficiaries of the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be Peloton Interactive Inc: “Revenue beats as pandemic boosts demand for fitness equipment”, Reuters signalled, as “shares of the company rose 8% in extended trading as it forecast full-year revenue above Wall Street expectations.”
C) Fitness Apparel
Fitness Apparel are clothes worn during workout sessions in the gym or similar physical activities. Ease of movement, comfort, and breathability are their main functional advantages, which is why they are mostly made of polyester, microfiber, or spandex.
It is not possible to find out how much money single brands make with fitness apparel as even the big players don’t publish the exact figures for the segment in their reports. But it’s possible to find out how much revenues they generate with sports apparel in general.
- According to Allied Market Research, the sports apparel market was valued at USD 167.7 billion in 2018 and is estimated to reach USD 248.1 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 5.1% from 2019 to 2026.
- In a more recent analysis, Global Industry Analysts estimate the global market for Sports & Fitness Clothing at USD 177.1 billion in the year 2020 amid the COVID-19 crisis. They projected to reach a revised size of USD 224.9 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 3.5% over the period 2020-2027.
- In their 2019 annual report, sports market leader Nike reports that the 2019 revenues were USD 39,117 million, with USD 11,550 million for apparel.
- Adidas reported 2019 net sales of EUR 23,640 million, with EUR 8,943 billion for apparel. Their sub-brand Reebok with its deep fitness heritage had net sales of EUR 1,748 million in 2019.
- Puma reported net sales of EUR 5,502 billion in 2019, with the Apparel division, earning EUR 2,068 million.
- Under Armour reported USD5,267 billion revenues in 2019, with USD 3,470 million for apparel.
- Japanese brand ASICS is mainly specialized in footwear and running. While their 2019 revenues are USD 3,468 million, apparel was only USD 376 million. Other sports brands mainly known for their footwear, such as New Balance or Brooks, or sportswear brands such as Kappa or Fila, offer fitness apparel as well.
- An emerging player in the fitness apparel segment is Lululemon from Canada, hailing from yoga apparel but lately expanding to sell a variety of athletic wear, including performance shirts, shorts and pants, as well as lifestyle apparel. The company had a 2019 net revenue of USD3,979 million, and as they are not selling footwear, apparel is the main part apart from some accessories.
- A hidden star is Athleta by The Gap, a premium fitness and lifestyle brand creating technical, sustainable apparel to inspire a community of active, confident women and girls. Net sales for Athleta for fiscal 2019 were USD 978 million.
In addition, there’s loads of smaller brands with products for both genders from all over the world, such as No Bull, Gymshark, Wolaco, Outdoor Voices, Alphalete, On Running, Barbell Apparel, Vuori Clothing, Echt Apparel, Reigning Champ, RYU Apparel, Squat Wolf, Ryderwear, Myprotein, Elite Eleven Sporting, Better Bodies, Toho Fit, The Omega Fitness, 2XU, Fabletics, Virus Intl., or Macron.
To check out our annual ranking of the leading sports apparel brands click here.
D) Fitness Wearables & Apps
According to Statista’s “Digital Market Outlook” survey, revenue in the digital Fitness segment is projected to reach USD22.5 billion in 2020. This includes two product categories: portable, connected fitness devices (“Wearables” excluding smartwatches) on the one hand, as well as digital fitness and nutrition applications for use with a smartphone and/or tablet (“Apps”) on the other.
The Wearables segment is defined as “devices that are explicitly intended for fitness. In particular, fitness wristwear which is equipped with sensors and activity trackers that measure and analyze the physical activity and body functions of the wearer. Smart Clothes and Eyewear are also included.”
In the Statista report, the Apps segment includes “fitness and nutrition apps e.g. calorie counters, nutrition diaries and apps for detecting/tracking/analyzing and sharing vitality and fitness achievements. The revenue figures only include revenues generated from paid app downloads, premium/full versions and in-app purchases.”
The report says that the market’s largest segment is Wearables with a projected market volume of USD18.9 billion in 2020 while the Apps segment is projected to reach USD3.5 billion. The analyst states: “Since health and lifestyle awareness has become a major trend in modern society, the quantified-self movement creates some demand in Fitness Wearables and Apps market, but paying app user numbers still grow quite slow.” The report also stresses that many mergers and acquisitions are happening, e.g. Adidas acquired Runtastic and Under Armour has invested in MyFitnessPal.
The Statista “Digital Market Outlook” indicates that the global fitness apps revenue is expected to grow by more than 48% in the next four years. The research also overviewed the global user growth for fitness apps between 2020 and 2024. The number of users is expected to amount from 825.7 million users this year to 1.03 billion by 2024, a growth of more than 25%.” According to StockApps, who have analyzed the Statista data further, „the projected revenue is generated mainly from paid app download, premium/full versions, and in-app purchases.“
Astonishingly, the Statista experts project an annual growth rate of -2% for the Wearables segment, resulting in a projected market volume of USD17.8 billion by 2024. As they state, “the considerable share of fitness trackers growth has shifted into Smartwatches (not considered in this segment), and the industry anticipates a further increasing convergence of smartwatches and fitness bands. The future of wearable devices will also see many collaborations and mergers of apparel manufacturers and tech giants, as smart clothes are the next innovative step, with 5G enabling more interactions between humans and the IoT. Nevertheless, the cost, legal regulations and risk of data theft are restraining the market growth at the moment.“ In later, even more pessimistic data published by Oct. 19, 2020, Statista assessed that the global wearables market is “forecast to only grow by 14.5 percent in 2020. This is a significant decrease, compared to 2019, when the market grew by 89 percent. The wearables market supply has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.”
A report by IDTechEx includes smartwatches in the Wearables segment and thus sees far higher figures than the Statista report, “with a total market worth nearly USD70 billion in 2019, having more than doubled in size since just 2014. This historic growth has been driven by product types including smartwatches, continuous glucose monitoring devices (CGM), hearing aids, headphones and AR, VR & MR. In addition, there have been many new types of wearable technology product in this time, ranging from new types of electronic skin patch, to smart apparel based on electronic textiles, to other new form factors for devices from footwear, to rings, to headbands.”
A poll by Gallup conducted late in 2019 found out that one in five U.S. adults use health apps and wearable trackers, and that about one in three Americans have at least tried digital health products: “19% of Americans say they currently use a wearable fitness tracker, with the same percentage saying they currently use a mobile health app. Combining present use with the percentages of Americans saying they have used each of these devices in the past, about one in three Americans report at some point having worn a fitness tracker such as a Fitbit or smartwatch (34%) or having tracked their health statistics on a phone or tablet app (32%).“
An IDC report states that “the worldwide market for wearable devices grew 82.3% in the fourth quarter of 2019 (4Q19), reaching a new high of 118.9 million devices shipped. The stunning growth was largely due to the proliferation of hearables, which captured 55.3% of the entire market. Other popular categories that also experienced growth during the quarter included watches (15.3% year-over-year growth) and wrist bands (17.7% growth). For the entire year, vendors shipped a total of 336.5 million wearable devices worldwide, resulting in an 89.0% increase from the 178.0 million units shipped in 2018.“
But who are the key companies behind the Wearables market? As shown by another Statista survey, Samsung is the biggest owner of active wearables patent families. “The company owned over 3,600 patent families, which is almost 2,000 patent families more than the runner up. Microsoft owned the second most active families and Sony the third most.”
Including smartwatches, according to Statista the Wearables market is dominated by Apple (32%) with their Apple Watches, Xiaomi with their Mi Band, Samsung Gear with their smartwatches, Huawei with their smartwatches, and Fitbit with their activity trackers. Other key players are Garmin with their activity trackers and smartwatches, Polar Electro with their heart rate monitoring devices, fitness trackers, and GPS sports watches, adidas with their miCoach Smart Run smartwatch, VR headsets and fitness trackers, Misfit with their fitness trackers, and Moov with their activity trackers.
Another special segment in the Wearables market is smart clothing. A June 2020 report from Juniper Research forecasts that annual revenue of integrated fitness clothing will rise from approximately USD1 billion in 2020 to USD11 billion in 2025. “This rapid growth, boosted by higher pricing, will see smart clothing become the largest fitness wearable sector by revenue”, the report says. “Wearables have been diversifying for several years, with numerous alternatives to wristbands. Integrated fitness clothing has developed to analyze cadence, exercise form and precise positioning; appealing to fitness enthusiasts and professional sports teams. Thanks to these features, smart fitness clothing is shown to be the fastest growing fitness form.“
If you are interested about innovation in the wearables market, check out WT Wearable Technologies, a leading innovation and market development platform for technologies worn close to the body.
D-2) Fitness Apps
So let’s have a deeper look into the Fitness Apps segment. Preliminarily, it’s interesting to know that according to a 2017 review by Flurry, health and fitness apps show the highest retention rate across all of the app categories: “96% of users use only one health and fitness app. This means that once they start using it, they easily become dedicated to it.” More current figures by Statista (“Global mobile app user retention rate worldwide as of August 2020“) yet show more underwhelming results saying that while health & fitness apps have an 20.2% day 1 user retention, the category’s day 30 post-install retention rate drops down to 4%.
In their “Digital Market Outlook” survey mentioned above, Statista state that “from MyFitnessPal, over Runtastic to audio-only workout app Aaptiv, there is a specific Fitness App for every kind of workout or health plan with personalized, coach- or trainer-built workouts. The high number of health and fitness apps ensures a steady increase in user numbers, even though organic growth is getting smaller over time and performance marketing is driving the costs up. Paying app users do not grow as strongly as expected, but free users still hold great conversion potential.“
For sure, the Covid-19 pandemic has boosted the Health & Fitness App segment as fitness studios worldwide closed during lockdowns and people switched to working out at home or running. The “Health and fitness app downloads worldwide“ overview by Statista suggests that “during the first quarter of 2020, health and fitness apps were downloaded 593 million times. It is projected that by the end of the second quarter of 2020, health and fitness apps will have generated 656 million downloads. In the same quarter of the previous year, health and fitness apps were only downloaded 446 million times.“
Club Industry states: “Back in March, Peloton app downloads increased fivefold. Health and fitness app downloads increased by 47% just in the United States alone. Our own research done in partnership with EuropeActive shows that there were almost seven million online fitness community posts in April – more than three times the amount registered in February.“
Statista’s “Leading health and fitness apps in the Google Play Store worldwide in September 2020, by revenue“ shows the leading players in the field: “In September 2020, “Calorie Counter – My fitness Pal” was the top-grossing health and fitness app in the Google Play Store worldwide. The platform generated over USD1.44 million in revenues from Android users. Fitbit was the second-most successful health and fitness app with USD1.43 million in revenues from global users.” Calm comes in third with USD1.28 million in revenues, Strava is fourth with USD1.15 million.
The Statista “Leading health and fitness apps in the Google Play Store worldwide in September 2020, by number of downloads“ overview says that in September 2020, “Lose Weight App for Women - Workout at Home” was the most-downloaded health and fitness app in the Google Play Store worldwide, generating almost 2.58 million downloads. Plus, the same App for Men generated another 2.07 downloads. The “Home Workout – No Equipment “ App was downloaded 2.13 million times, “Mi Fit” 2.7 million times and “Height Increase” 2 million times.
For iOS, the most downloaded free Health & Fitness Apps worldwide according to Topfitnessapps are (as of Nov. 30, 2020): Calm, Flo My Health & Period Tracker, and Carb Manager: Keto Diet App. Mindbody: Fitness, Salon & Spa sits on 8th place, FitOn Workouts & Fitness Plans on 10th.
There are loads of additional Apps for Android and iOS devices supporting home exercising and serving as a personal trainer for socially distanced training. Some of the most popular include Asana Rebel, Freeletics, Seven – 7 Minute Workout, Fitness Buddy, 30 Day Fitness, Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout, Pear Personal Fitness Coach, Workout Trainer, Shred: Home & Gym Workout or 8fit Workouts & Meal Planner.
The big sport outfitters for sure also muscle in the Apps segment, i.e. Nike Training Club, adidas Running App Runtastic, Pumatrac, ASICS Studio: At Home Workouts, Reebok Fitness Cardio App or Under Armour Connected Fitness.
There’s a lot of change going on though as Apple launched Fitness Plus in September 2020, a studio fitness app that offers classes from fitness coaches and integrates tightly with Apple Watch. Investing Business Daily comments this move: „Now Apple wants to bulldoze the fitness app industry, even though many of these companies rely on the App Store and dutifully pay Apple its 30% cut.”
E) Nutrition & Supplements
Another huge market in the Fitness segment is the Nutrition & Supplements business. According to Grand View Research, the global sports nutrition market size was valued at USD15.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9% from 2020 to 2027: “Increase in demand for various types of protein bars, dietary supplements, and energy drinks among athletes and bodybuilders is one of the major factors driving the market growth. Rising disposable income, rapid urbanization, and increase in the number of gyms and health and fitness centers endorsing sports and fitness nutrition products also positively influence market growth.“
GVR also investigated the global protein supplements market size, estimating it at USD17.55 billion in 2019 and expecting it to expand at a CAGR of 8.0% during the forecast period, driven by an increase in health and fitness centers and consumer health consciousness. “Increasing popularity among millennials along with the development of innovative protein-based supplements in different forms, coupled with numerous health benefits of the product are some of the major factors driving the growth.”
Statista said that the global sports nutrition market was valued at USD50.84 billion in 2018, and was expected to increase in value to USD81.5 billion by 2023. They define sports nutrition as products “that are designed to make it easier to reach one’s fitness goals and to replace nutrients depleted during the workout. Some of the most popular sports nutrition products include sports drinks, energy bars, and protein powder.”
Statista’s “Global consumer sport nutrition sales in 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020, by product type“ shows that the biggest part of this market is sport protein powder, followed by sports non-protein products, sports protein RTD and sports protein bars.
In a look on the European Sports Nutrition Market, Allied Market Research says the segment is „expected to garner USD10,429 million by 2021. The sports nutrition market in Europe has witnessed healthy growth rates in the past few years, and is expected to continue this trend in the future. Growth in health concerns, higher obesity prevalence, and rise in health clubs & fitness centers in Europe have led to increased demand for sports nutrition products.“
Market Watch published a “Sports Nutrition Market: COVID19 Impact Analysis with Global Countries Data, 2020,“ stating: „The Sports Nutrition market revenue was USD26,671 million in 2019, and will reach USD45,926 Million in 2025, with a CAGR of 9.48% during 2020-2025. Sports nutrition products include sports drinks, supplements, and food that include protein powders, Isotonic drink powder, capsule/tablets (creatine/branched chain amino acids and others), supplement powder, ready-to-drink protein drinks, carbohydrate drinks, protein bars, carbohydrate/energy bars and other supplements.“
Regarding non-aseptic sports drinks, a statistic by Statista illustrates the sales growth in the United States from 2011 to 2020: “The U.S. sports drink category generated approximately USD7.11 billion in sales in 2020, with a 7.7 percent change in sales compared to the previous year.”
Wonder identified Purus Labs, BPI Sports, Clif Bar & Company, Glanbia Performance Nutrition, Optimum Nutrition, Pro Source Performance Products, Nutrex Research, Cytosport (Muscle Milk, owned by PepsiCo), Universal Nutrition and Maximum Human Performance (MHP) as the major competitors operating in the U.S. sports nutrition market.
Exercise.com defines the „10 most valuable supplement companies“ as MHP, Universal Nutrition, Cytosport, Gaspari Nutrition, Nutrex Research, Pro Source Performance Products, MuscleTech, Optimum Nutrition, Bio-Engineered Supplements & Nutrition (BSN) and Labrada.
Mordor Intelligence lists Glanbia, PepsiCo (who own Gatorade), MusclePharm Corporation, The Coca-Cola Company (who own Powerade and invested in BodyArmor), and Clif Bar & Company as the major players in the sports nutrition market, describing the competitive landscape as “highly competitive and fragmented, with the presence of various international and domestic players. Though there are many local players in the sports nutrition market, brand value, high distribution network and the demand for clean label products give the global players an upper edge over the regional players.“
F) Trends for 2021
In recent years, sport and fitness have become increasingly important in the context of a general social change. The Corona Year 2020 has turned the situation upside down, especially in the fitness sector. Digitalization, with apps and online training communities, has become increasingly important after fitness studios in many countries were closed for a long time. Instead of going “higher, faster, further”, the focus has shifted towards more holistic offers that include the care for a healthy mindset, and the specialization in particular clientele such as Covid risk groups or seniors.
But let’s first rewind back to early 2020 when the most important annual survey regarding trends was published, the Worldwide Fitness Trends Survey by the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Health & Fitness Journal, where over 3,000 health and fitness professional rank possible trends. The survey predicted the following trends for 2020:
- Wearable technology
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Group training
- Training with free weights and
- Personal training
Another interesting survey is the 2019 trends poll for 2020 by the IHRSA, which identified “Embracing fitness tech inside and outside the club“ as the most important trend for fitness clubs. “Growth of wellness, nutrition, and recovery services“, came in second, followed by “Expansion of the studio within a club model”, “Members belonging to multiple clubs and studios” and “Clubs acting as social hubs for their communities”.
2021 updates of these two surveys have not been published so far, but there are other sources which already took a look at what will become important in the upcoming year. And already the first example shows what an impact Covid-19 had. “This year, the idea of fitness evolved entirely, and many people switched to an at-home fitness routine or individual training,“ Buzztribe says and defines “Maintenance of hygiene standards at gyms“ as the most important trend for 2021, followed by “Balancing health and fitness”, “Connection between mind and body training”, “Specialized programs for the risk groups” and “Online Fitness is here to stay”.
Other experts fall into the same groove. In their article “The Future of Fitness: What Will Help Us Recover?“, Club Industry proposes 4 steps to not only recover, but revolutionize the fitness industry: “Accelerate the Shift to Digital Fitness“, “Nurture Your Community as a Commodity”, “Address Safety Concerns in Your Facility” and “Take the ‘New Normal’ into Your Own Hands.”
Club Solutions Magazine’s annual survey predicts trends that will be paramount in the industry for the year ahead, according to their advisory board and readers. Their top trends for 2021 include “Virtual fitness and digital clubs”, “Increased emphasis on the member experience”, “PR and communication as an industry”, “Wellness, exercise is medicine and medical fitness” and “Outdoor boot camps and fitness”.
In their “The Seven Most Important Fitness Trends for the Year 2021“, ISPO found out these trends: “Gyms Have to Meet High Hygiene Standards“, “More Health Orientation in Fitness Offers”, “Mindset: Connection of Body and Mind in Training”, “Differentiated and Target Group Oriented Training” and “Special Offers for Corona Risk Groups and Senior Citizens”.
Rick Mayo, CEO of the Alloy Personal Training Franchise Leadership Team, Georgia, expects to see “A focus on hygiene” as the most important trend for 2021, adding “Increased attention to health“, “Individualized and group training models“, “Special consideration for at-risk populations“ and “Training that trends toward sport“.
The Canadian Sporting Goods Association (CSGA) picked “Seven Important Fitness Trends for the Year 2021“, including “Gyms have to meet high hygiene standards”, “More health orientation in fitness offers”, “Mindset: Connection of body and mind in Training” and “Differentiated and target group oriented training”.
In an interview with German magazine Cosmopolitan, Moritz Kreppel, CEO of „Urban Sports Club“, suggests that “Fitness will be even more independent of location in the coming year.“ He picks 5 fitness trends for 2021: Barre Workout, Spinning, Bodyweight Workouts, Outdoor HIIT and Qi Gong.
Steven Virtue, fitness development manager at Total Fitness, the North of England’s leading health club, shares his predictions for the fitness trends in the Luxury Lifestyle Mag: “Remote coaching”, “Wearable technology”, “Covid prescribed fitness training”, “Virtual fitness” and “Outdoor fitness training.”
Who would have thought at the end of 2019 that one year later, hygiene standards would be considered the most important trend in the fitness sector? This shows that for fitness clubs, the main motto for 2021 will be: ”Stay safe, stay healthy.”