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Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Opinion

The Future of Online Fitness

By Angie RamirezAngie Ramirez
5 min read
As the at-home fitness market doubles, triples, and quadruples in size over the next decade, there is plenty of room for startup innovation.

It will surprise few to hear that the online fitness market is growing at a tremendous speed, though it might elicit a gasp to hear just by how much. The online fitness industry, valued at $6 billion dollars in 2019,  is expected to reach $59.2 billion by 2027.

Though this trend has accelerated due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, it is not one that was started by it. Prior to 2020, there had already been increasing interest in at-home workouts catering to the busy, those living or traveling in remote locations, and those looking to take advantage of lower pricing and higher optionality. One of the best examples of the trend is Peloton, a company selling high-end connected exercise bikes, treadmills, and fitness subscriptions. They were seeing triple digit growth prior to the pandemic.

The growth of companies like Peloton, of course, have accelerated this year thanks to quarantines around the world. Peloton’s stock is currently trading at about 8 times projected FY’21 revenues.

At-home workouts - here to stay?

The question on most people’s minds, however, is whether the at-home workout trend will continue beyond 2020. The resounding answer is yes.

Research from fitness class schedule app Mindbody suggests that though in-person classes will continue to be popular after the COVID-19 pandemic, 51% of individuals still expect to do a virtual workout once a week, and 37% anticipate participating in two or three per week. Peloton predicts that at least 60% of Americans do not intend to renew their physical gym memberships once in-person classes are a safe option again.

This new “blended” in-person and virtual approach to fitness will see a shift in types of classes demanded in each of those settings. When restrictions were eased this summer in Australia, the most popular at-home workout became yoga. Weight training and pilates, classes that can require a significant investment in equipment, became the most popular in-person classes people returned to.

Apple, it turns out, is making a similar bet on “blended” fitness. It is projected to launch Fitness + by the end of 2020, a subscription fitness service that will feature yoga, strength, running, and cycling classes, amongst others. Apple expects that people will do many of their classes at an actual gym, not just from the comfort of their own home. In places like NYC, where gyms are open but are not yet allowed to offer indoors fitness classes, Fitness + might be a game-changer, especially as the winter sets in and outdoor workout classes become less feasible.

It is clear to Apple, Peloton, and many others in the industry, that consumers will continue to expect fitness companies to offer technology-enabled virtual workouts alongside more traditional in-person fitness classes. Millions of people have purchased dumbbells, Peloton bikes and treadmills, OrangeTheory heart rate monitors, and other equipment to assist them in creating a similar environment to that of a physical gym, at home. Thanks to wearables and other fitness technology, instructors in live-streamed classes are now able to monitor their students’ heart rates, calories burned, speeds, posture, and level of effort throughout their workouts, which makes them able to intervene, correct, and motivate as they would in a physical fitness class. It also allows users to sync their workout data to smart devices of their choosing more smoothly, thus making it easier to track and control their overall health and fitness.

Those who have invested in an at-home workout space with equipment and fitness technology will find it harder to justify paying exorbitant membership fees for in-person classes post-pandemic.

Another lasting change stemming from at-home quarantines will be a heightened awareness of personal health. Rising rates of diabetes, obesity, and other chronic ailments due to an increasingly sedentary lifestyle is a wake-up call for many, which has left them with no other option than to engage in workouts at home. Needless to say, employers are paying attention. Many are helping their workforce stay healthy by sponsoring at-home exercise subscriptions, meditation, and general wellness programs.

Opportunity for Startups to Innovate

Large companies like Peloton, OrangeTheory, and Apple are not the only ones who stand to capitalize on the at-home fitness trend. As the market continues to double, triple, and quadruple in size over the next decade, there is plenty of room for innovation.

Individual instructors and small independent gyms will be looking for help to digitize in the growing “blended” virtual and in-person model of fitness. Many have had to resort to using Zoom, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and other live video platforms to stream their workouts to interested participants, a sub-par option. Streaming a live fitness class is one thing. Teaching is another. These small companies are looking for more customized fitness management platforms that will allow them to collect payment, interact with their students, monitor students’ progress live, and generally provide an excellent holistic remote fitness program experience. Zoom and social media platforms just don’t cut it.

As gyms are forced to shut down and lay-off their staff, more and more individuals will look to start their own independent “blended” fitness companies, where live, on-demand, and in-person classes will all be a part of their offerings. Technology can help ease the transition.

At Livepeer, we’re passionate about the live fitness streaming industry, and understand the incredible benefits working out can have on our health, especially as many continue to work from home. We offer reliable, scalable, and easy-to-use live video transcoding services at a fraction of the cost. We hope to enable use-cases in this industry that would have previously been cost-prohibitive. For more information, please get in touch with us at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you!


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