Technology is pervasive in the fitness industry. While most people don’t think of workout equipment as technology, they can indeed be considered “machines” that enhance the quality of human activity. The industry is shifting away from these rudimentary tools and leveling up to higher tech solutions that do a better job of improving the body and the mind as a complete unit.
Data from Statista shows that the sporting equipment industry hit $5.12 billion in revenue last year, and everything is pointing to continued growth in 2017. The overall fitness and wellness industry is a much bigger generator of revenue, coming in at over $542 billion.
There is also growing trend of companies offering workplace wellness technologies and programs that are helping achieve, on average, a 6 percent reduction in attrition, with some companies like SAS and Biltmore reporting closer to 10% reduction.Todd Musgrove is an expert in the intersection of fitness and technology. Coming from a background creating apps for fitness, Todd now works as the Chief Strategy Officer for Kenzai, an online fitness platform that incorporates mindfulness and community in its home workout experiences.
He shares, “Technology and the internet have made it easier to bring together people and information to develop more comprehensive programs that allow real people to connect, train in the same program, and achieve results together.”
1. Online Platforms Providing Subscriptions
Services like Kenzai that provide at home solutions on a subscription basis are becoming more popular with consumers. Many have become frustrated with the “one-size-fits-all” approach that many home exercise videos and programs initially provided, and are searching for more customizable experiences that match their needs. Musgrove explains that the benefit of online fitness platforms is that, “People can train anywhere with an internet connection. Since we function online, we are also able to help people utilize personalized diets prepared by a professional nutritionist.” These are services that are difficult for traditional gyms and programs to provide due to the overhead involved with employing similar experts in a single location.
2. Wearables Enhancing Home Fitness
Before wearables, the only way to effectively measure your heart rate during a workout was to hop on a smart treadmill at the gym. Today more than 20 percent of Americans have smartwatches or other fitness trackers that help them track biometric data all day, according to research from Forrester. The popularity of these devices is helping users better track and evaluate their performance, making gym visits less important to their overall fitness journey.
3. DNA Testing as a Fitness Frontier
Musgrove shares, “Genetics and medical testing to tailor exercise and nutrition are coming into practice, and we’re looking at opportunities to integrate it as it evolves to develop more personalized experience.” With the growing popularity of DNA mapping services provided by companies like 23andme and Ancestry, the number of consumers interested in finding out how their genetic makeup impacts fitness will grow in coming years.
4. Social Media
It may seem peripheral to the more fitness specific technologies listed above, but it’s important to consider the impact social media tech is having on the fitness industry. Photo and video sharing platforms are making a trend out of posting your fitness efforts. Social challenges on Facebook drive accountability for participants, and the opportunity to snapchat your run and share it with all your followers is motivation for anyone that wants to be perceived as fit.
These technologies have given rise to more workout programs like mud runs, and other experience-based races. As these companies develop new products like Snapchat glasses that make it even easier to share, people will become more intentional about sharing their workouts.
More and more consumers will be looking for ways to use technology to enhance their fitness efforts in 2017. As a result, fitness companies need to adopt developing tech quickly to reach more customers. Especially those that are digital natives. Trainers also need to consider how tech solutions can support their business, and leverage the growing trend of at-home workouts. As fitness tech improves, the hope is that people will be even more effective with their fitness efforts, achieving a healthier and happier 2017.