February 28, 2022

Wellness Trends 2022 Virtual Fitness Thoughts

Section 1: The Pandemic

What the Report Found

  • About half of consumers have reported their mental well-being has been negatively affected by the pandemic
  • 40% of consumers report their physical health being affected
  • Gen Z and Millenials are the most affected in both mental and physical health
  • Over 50% report staff vaccination status being an important factor for returning to gym/studios

Opinion

A Business Consultants Take: 

Yes, all of us with brick-and-mortar fitness facilities should absolutely take those statistics and realities to heart; have empathy, make changes, help people feel more comfortable to return. As business people, we ALSO need to talk about how to solve the business problem, brought on by the fundamental flaw of the boutique fitness business model. That any business dependent upon its doors being open to serve a very small pool of clients is at risk for disruption. The good news is that there are well-established, principle-oriented business strategies that can help us mitigate the impacts, and increase the survivability of these disruptions. 

The big risk is that one of the fitness experts' strengths is also one of their greatest weaknesses. The boutique fitness expert/business owner who spends eight hours a day in their creative mind helping their clients reach their goals and solve their problems is a strength- their superpower in fact. It becomes a significant weakness when they forget to switch to a more analytical brain when it comes time to solving a business problem. There’s an old saying that if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Evidence of this is clear in the fitness community these days. When you tune into podcasts, if you listen to consultants, you’ll hear 1000 different variations of a “Big Idea” approach to saving themselves, but the big ideas don’t solve the underlying problem. The most serious aspect of this risk is that it almost always results in the depletion of their limited resources. Thousands of creative and brilliant fitness experts making that same mistake is going to mean the eventual loss of even more valuable local experts. It doesn’t serve us, our families, our employees, our business, the industry, or the customers who depend on local fitness experts for any more of them to disappear.  Talk to each other; compare notes, look closely and analyze to make sure that what you think is true actually is. And the proof can be found in one of your business’ key performance indicators. We need to do our best as a community to keep one another in check. When we see a colleague going down “The Big Idea” resources drain, have a conversation, and see if they can tell you exactly how they know it’s big!   

Section 2: Motivation

What the Report Found

  • Over 75% of consumers report that being physically active helps their mental health
  • The top 3 reasons for working out have changed from pre-pandemic

  • The new reasons are reducing stress, feeling healthier mentally, and looking physically better are priorities above controlling weight, feeling good, and living a healthy life. 

Opinion

A Business Consultants Take: 

The change in consumer motivations around exercise is important to note for effectively communicating the client's current set of values and concerns when creating marketing materials. I would caution those without adequate resources considering the idea of adding some kind of mental health service or support to their business. Instead, consider cultivating cross-marketing referral relationships with experts already doing that work in your community. In this way you can feed two birds with one seed, rebuilding your businesses strength and resilience, while simultaneously supporting 2 completely separate businesses through a mutually beneficial referral relationship.

Section 3: Variety

What the Report Found

  • 46% of Americans want to try new services and treatments aimed at supporting immune health

  • Women are more interested in this topic than men, but this creates new opportunities around nutrition, sleep, and stress reduction.

  • A majority of people prefer businesses with a variety of services, with it influencing 69% of men and 64% of women. 

Opinion

A Business Consultants Take: 

Another word of caution on this section! Again, like section 2, reading about a desire for new services doesn’t necessarily mean that the right thing to do is to add those services yourselves. Be mindful of your bandwidth, financial resources, and your area of expertise. Instead of trying to learn something, or build something new, the partner approach with existing providers will preserve all of your resources, leveraging each other’s expertise to the benefit of each other’s client list, while simultaneously gaining the valuable extended reach and referrals found in relationships of mutual benefit.

Section 4: Barriers to Entry

What the Report Found

  • Barriers to entry around fitness are still concerns for consumers, with 19% feeling too intimidated to go to a gym/fitness studio.

  • This is a 7% increase from 2021.

  • The top 4 reasons why people don’t go to a gym/studio are price, COVID-19 safety and cleanliness, time, and intimidation.

Opinion

A Business Consultants Take: 

Section 4 is interesting information. It’s a pretty good bet that after all this time, the vast majority of us are already seeing to the cleanliness and safety protocols necessary during a pandemic. The really big takeaway on this one for us is making sure that promotional materials and what you’re posting on social media are breaking away from “showing off” unattainable flexibilities and shapes which are out of reach for many. Good marketing content allows the target audience to see themselves in it, rather than being intimidated by what the expert or some model can do already. The very least that we can do is to stop doing that!

Section 5: Virtual Fitness

What the Report Found

  • 35% of Americans attend in-person classes after getting started through virtual fitness.

  • Millennials aged 25-40 proved to be the most likely to attend a class in-person after trying it online, at 43%.

Opinion

A Business Consultants Take: 

The report shows that virtual fitness classes are a valuable asset, but limits its commentary to framing it as a means to support in-person classes. It's described more as a pipeline to get new clients into the studio rather than a new area to expand into. At-home fitness videos have been around since 1972, and now with the internet making them available on-demand is even easier. This section, in my opinion, is a gross understatement of the opportunity that is right in front of us as a community. The first thing you have to do is understand the virtual side of the industry before you make content. Otherwise, you run the very real risk of having been thinking about your existing in-person clients when you create the content for the on-demand client.  That won’t work. You have to do your homework to uncover the motivation- the specific variety the on-demand buyers are looking for, then create the content and package it precisely so they see themselves in it. That’s how you get them to buy it. In fact, that’s exactly what you’re already doing on the in-person side of your business. Do that correctly for this additional client type as well, and what you create can be successful far beyond the limits of geography and the doors being open. 

Did You Get That? I’m talking about the business solution to our universal boutique fitness business problem made clear by the pandemic: 

  • Secondary Revenue

  • A completely new client type

  • Revenue not dependent on the doors being open

It’s possible, and in fact already in progress. FitStreams.club is a product of a thorough analysis before executing content for the on-demand client profile. Take a look.

FitStreams.club on-demand fitness classes

Section 6: Recovery Services

What the Report Found

  • Post-workout recovery is something that consumers are beginning to prioritize more with 32% of men and 24% of women regularly using recovery services post workout.

Opinion

A Business Consultants Take: 

This section of the report is very short, and there isn’t a lot to say that hasn’t already been said. If your fitness business has recovery services, that’s great. I’m sure that your own in-house numbers are indicating the growth indicated in this report. Obviously adding recovery services to what your business is already doing would involve significant investments in the necessary infrastructure. Be sure to avail yourselves of much more information than what this report provides. You could very easily spend yourself right out of business trying to build a new service, while simultaneously trying to recover what was lost on the fitness side of your business during the pandemic. Consider partnering first, unless of course, you have very deep pockets. Then by all means, apparently the water’s fine- jump right in!

Section 7: Music

What the Report Found

  • Music is a powerful motivator, with 71% of people being motivated by it while working out. The gym/studio is also a place where 40% of consumers discover new music.

Opinion

A Business Consultants Take: 

This section is very useful in showing that music might be a powerful tool for certain fitness businesses. Knowing that most people get motivated by listening to music, and that a good portion of them discover new music from the studio is informative. However, while music is universal, taste in music is not. The report does not say whether the music motivating consumers is provided by the studio or if they are listening to their own tunes. Sure, a fitness business playing specific styles of music creates a specific identity. But don’t forget, the other side of creating an identity is that you’re quite possibly and inadvertently excluding other identities. In these troubled times where inclusivity and representation are such divisive and difficult topics, one should take great care not to make music another thing that divides. Businesses should consider all angles before implementing these findings in their studio/gym.

Get the full report here from MindBody Online

About the author 

Mark Firehammer

When is he is not creating content for Pilates Business Pros, or training business owners to be better marketers, you can find him playing with his cats, working in his metal and woodworking shop or sharing a meal and a bottle of wine with friends.

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