Bringing the Class to the Home
It’s by no means an emerging trend to point out that for the thousands of gym memberships taken up each January in response to festive excess, many hundreds will lie unused – or at least underused – after an initial burst of enthusiasm that may last no longer than a week or two into the new year.
But while traditional gyms benefit from guaranteed income without having to worry about customers over-using their services, a new generation of digital businesses is stepping-in to allow people to overcome the barriers that are keeping them from the treadmill.
Take ClassPass for instance, a subscription-based fitness company that connects users with thousands of boutique fitness classes across major cities. The business was founded with the express intention to counter the boredom and monotony people cite as reasons why they give up on their fitness regimes and, as such, has launched livestreamed workouts to enable people to work-out wherever and whenever they can.
With other players on the boutique fitness scene looking to bring the studio experience to the home, including dance cardio powerhouse AKT and spinning studios Flywheel and Peloton, it is clear the future of fitness is digital. But will livestreaming be a significant threat to boutique gyms themselves and what’s next for these brands?
Whilst livestreamed classes might seem to cannibalise the boutique gym, in reality, they are contributing to the continued growth and expansion of the overall fitness market which is gaining greater mass appeal as it becomes more accessible and leading active healthy lifestyles becomes the norm amongst mainstream audiences.
As this market expands, those brands that are able to capitalise on such growth through investment in technologies that allow them to reach a broader consumer base will reap considerable rewards.
Livestream services are also changing the definition of fitness communities, connecting people in new ways and across geographical boundaries. From the cult followings of renowned studios Pscyle, OneRebel or SoulCycle or uber-influencers like Kaya Itsines and Joe Wicks, digital has changed the face of fitness communities.
But this presents one key challenge for the livestreaming trend. How can working out on your own, in your own home replicate the buzz or collective energy of the boutique gym experience?
The answer is likely that livestreamed classes are unlikely to fully replace the boutique gym, but the two can coexist. As the worlds of technology and fitness continue to converge it will be fascinating to discover whether livestreaming stumbles to become yet another fitness fad or develops into a dominant trend in the fitness world.
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