Though the fitness industry as a whole has been slow to wholeheartedly adopt the transition to digital products, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly been the catalyst needed to jumpstart our industry’s dive into digital waters.
Innovation and digital adoption are at an all-time high. Finally, it seems that businesses are starting to take notice that digital products are truly the wave of the future and will likely continue to fuel this industry long after the pandemic subsides.
Unfortunately, the tech giants of Silicon Valley have also noticed. Big players have set their sights on our industry as well, thanks to a clear increase in online engagement with digital fitness.
We have recently witnessed a stream of new entries into the digital fitness world: tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon have all thrown their weight into the digital fitness arena with big budgets and huge investments.
This is a scary proposition for small business owners at any time, but when the health and fitness industry is staring down the devastating effects of COVID-19? It might seem terrifying, right?
So, what will the entrance of Silicon Valley into the fitness industry mean for your bottom line and how can you compete? Let’s find out.
Fitness is an Evolving Industry
The needs of the consumer are changing given not only the state of the world during this pandemic-era but also because technology is changing the way people do everything in their daily lives.
Digital workouts have been a long time coming, even if the industry was slow to take notice. As a fitness business, the time is now to adjust your offerings to meet these needs.
Consumers today want home fitness as well as fitness technology, and this is exactly where Silicon Valley has stepped in.
Amazon has revealed a streamlined system of connected fitness products, Facebook is set to conquer the live-streaming workout realm, and home fitness products like Peloton have seen their stock increase 360% just since March.
These tech giants have quite a few things going for them: they are able to create both accessible and extremely affordable digital products, they have the budget and the personnel to develop their technology quickly and efficiently, they have the bottom line to create high-quality products, and they already have amassed a huge audience to sell to.
That might sound grim, but the way we see it, today’s fitness business can play this game two ways: lean into their digital offerings while focusing on what they have that sets them apart from the big players, and/or build upon the home fitness trend to turn these online customers into your clients.
What Gyms Do Differently
So the tech giants have resources, established brand loyalty, and a far-reaching audience. While fitness clubs may not have the capital or brand power to compete for a specific product, gyms provide an immersive experience that digital products simply cannot.
Authentic, live workouts, and classes within an engaged community are part of an experience that the big players cannot rival.
Between the social aspect of the fitness club, an experienced in-person trainer, and the range of equipment your club offers, the gym is a place, unlike any digital fitness app.
It’s the getting out of the house, finding accountability, and being a part of a supportive community that fundamentally sets the fitness club apart.
Make no mistake, digital fitness will be a perk that every club member will expect from now on, and your business will be no different. You absolutely must expand into quality digital offerings in order to stay relevant.
Find a hybrid solution that makes sense for your club and your members so that they are able to reap the benefits of in-person motivation and accountability, blended with legitimate social connection and, of course, digital at-home workouts/classes.
The idea will not be to compete with Apple or Amazon or Facebook at their level, but rather to offer a digital fitness product that connects the experience of your club with a digital aspect.
Turn Tech-Savvy Newbies Into Club Members
The second choice is to, as an industry, look at the bright side of this trend. Anything, even unwanted Silicon Valley players stepping in, that gets more people moving is good news overall.
More physical activity translates to a healthier population and most of us got into this industry with that goal in mind.
With the arrival of Silicon Valley on the scene, there will be more competition, sure, but there will also be an increased overall interest in exercise as well as awareness of its many beneficial health outcomes, which will only serve to create a larger audience for all of us.
The health and fitness industry can lean into this interest and, as people gain confidence from working out at home, turn them into in-person club members as they seek the next step in their health and fitness journey.
They’ll show up for the workouts, and they’ll stay because of your experienced trainers who motivate them and support their goals, your range of equipment and space that they don’t have at home, plus all of the other activities your club may offer.
We can be ready for the involvement of the Silicon Valley tech giants not by competing with them, but by providing the experiences we always have.
The challenge will be to create a digital product that blends the accessibility of online-workouts and the motivation and sense of community found at the gym.