2023 Trends for Fitness Operators

The end of the year marks a good time to look at your business with fresh eyes. The last several years have been nothing short of transformative for the industry but the reality is that the true fundamentals of fitness rarely change. However, the platforms and technology the industry is using has entered a new era. We sat down with Eamon Lloyd, Head of Europe, Partnerships at Gympass to talk about what fitness operators need to know heading into 2023. We spoke to Eamon about:

  • Why hybrid fitness is here to stay
  • The rise of personalisation and how operators can capitalise
  • The shift from fitness to wellness
  • How to tap into the corporate market

Despite the fact that in-person fitness has bounced back, consumers are still doing a mix of virtual, in-person and at-home workouts. Is hybrid fitness here to stay?

It’s clear that fitness consumers now see digital offerings as complementary to, rather than a replacement for the gym. Even if people physically go to a gym to workout, they often rest, recover and manage their self-care at home. It’s about convenience.

As a result, you might think people have become less loyal to their local gym, but our data shows otherwise. Despite huge shifts in the way people have engaged with fitness over the last two years, we’re finding that 80% of people still only use one facility.

Hybrid fitness solutions are now very much mainstream. Consumers are now accessing omnichannel fitness in ways they were not doing pre-pandemic. For example, they may go to a gym, but they will now also have a favourite fitness app, online workout platform or a virtual PT. The key is to meet consumers where they are, whether that’s in the gym or at home and wherever they are on their wellness journey. The operators with the vision to adapt, innovate and diversify are the ones that will thrive in 2023.

Based on data from your network of fitness operator partners, what trends are seeing in terms of the way people consume fitness?

Firstly, the industry has made a remarkable recovery since 2020. Talk of massively decreased use of in-person fitness classes and facilities didn’t really haven’t come to fruition. One of the major changes we’re seeing is the rise of online personal training services.

Our data tells us that personalisation plays a key role in engagement with wellbeing and fitness routines. That’s why we launched Trainiac by Gympass in all the European markets in which Gympass operates. It’s a new Gympass service offering that empowers customers to build long-lasting habits by connecting them with a highly qualified personal trainer. Amazingly, employees who were previously inactive, when paired with a trainer through Trainiac by Gympass completed an average of 36 workouts in the following 90 days. We have learned that accessibility and ease of access paired with direct, professional support is what makes the biggest difference in engagement levels.

What can operators do about the shift happening from fitness to more holistic health and wellbeing?

Recently, Gympass released its first annual State of Work-Life Wellness Report. The report is based on a survey of 9,000 employees across nine markets, including the United States, U.K., and Brazil, and uncovers insights regarding how employees feel about workplace happiness, burnout, productivity and employee engagement. One of the key learnings from the report was that if you ignore wellbeing, companies should be prepared to lose their best people. 77% said they would consider leaving a company that doesn’t focus on wellbeing. This is an important data point for operators to know. People, particularly young people, look at health and fitness holistically. It’s baked into their daily routines, and it is not separate from their professional lives. They’re not just looking for a workout. They want guidance on nutrition, mental wellbeing and sleep too. To attract these clients, operators should include wellness services in addition to traditional classes and PT options.

Operators could consider promoting a holistic health package including healthy habits and nutritional guidance as well as a plan for recovery, self-care and mindfulness. It will go a long way with today’s consumer and it could help you stand out from your competition.

Speaking of employees, what tips do you have for operators looking to get a larger slice of the corporate market in 2023?

Earlier this year, we conducted some research with People Management Insights and discovered that despite increased interest and investment in wellbeing programmes, many employees who stand to benefit are not participating in them. A worrying finding was that employee engagement in wellbeing offerings was very low. Of those who do have a workplace health and wellbeing strategy in place, fewer than 20% of employees are actually enrolled or actively engaged in available programmes.

My advice to operators is to really make the most of any partnerships you have with the corporate market. Simply being a part of a wellbeing offering is not enough to get maximum participation. Think about ways you can reduce the time and effort it takes for someone to get involved in the different options. Consider co-hosting events or onboarding activities to increase employee awareness and understanding. And, think bigger than physical activity and fitness. Of course, many people will take part in their employee benefits for the traditional reasons (ie: weight loss, muscle gain, etc.) but consider other aspects of health too like mental health and financial health. We know that a healthier workforce is a happier and more productive workforce so there’s a huge opportunity for operators and the corporate market.

Posted in Gyms & Clubs, Interviews, Most Popular Interviews.