Whilst we’re adjusting to the latest ease of lockdown measures, we’re well aware that COVID-19 has brought around many lessons to fitness business around the globe.
What have we learnt from living life in quarantine? How will the fitness industry fare in a post-lockdown world? How will the public interact with fitness offerings after experiencing months without fitness venues? Will home workouts reign supreme above in-person classes and gym sessions?
And how do we answer these questions? By speaking to passionate health and fitness industry experts with huge insight when it comes to home workouts and online fitness classes. In the first of a new series of Move interviews, we spoke to Anthony Vennare to glean all his learnings at Fiit.
The MoveGB Interview - with Anthony Vennare of Fitt
Anthony, along with his brother Joe, is the founder of Fitt, a local discovery platform that connects users to healthy experiences across 30 cities in the US, Canada, UK, and Australia. The brothers are also founders of the excellent Fitt Insider, industry coverage that provides decision-makers with insights and analysis on the business of fitness and wellness.
We spoke to Anthony to get a transatlantic take on Covid, home fitness and the effects on the health, fitness and wellness industries...
Hey there Anthony. Thanks so much for making some time to speak to us. It seems like the world has jumped forward five years in terms of tech adoption since Cv-19 struck. How do you think the world is reacting to the idea of online fitness classes in particular?
I think consumers are loving the digital workouts and classes but miss the in-person connection and community that comes with it. Also, the need for equipment and space is a big issue for some.
What's your take on how the health & fitness industry as a whole (i.e. not just the digital-first brands) has reacted so far? Any differences you have seen between territories/countries?
The industry generally has really stepped up during this time, but I think for studios and instructors it's been challenging. While many have adapted by offering live classes, some just don't have the business model behind those online offerings yet, especially when compared to dedicated at-home digital fitness brands, programs, apps and content providers.
Talk us through your thoughts as you realised the full consequences of the pandemic as it became clear. What actions did you take for your own business?
We have family in Italy so we got an inside look at what this could become in the US. With that we took steps to cut costs and evaluate with our investors and partners. After that it was a matter of trying to continue to add value to the audience we already have, which meant putting out content around home fitness and other activities that were safe in terms of social distancing.
It was a trying time for our team because most of our business is about adding local value and driving consumers to in-person activities in gyms in their city, but we were able to adapt.
How do you envisage fitness regimes changing as we enter a 'new normal' and ‘ease out’ of lockdown? What will stick and what will be discarded? Opinion seems divided on this with some suggesting more ‘blended’ (digital-physical) regimes will become the norm but others (perhaps more so in the traditional marketing community) maintain we will revert back at the earliest opportunity…
We think that outdoor fitness classes, activities, meet-ups, runs groups, etc will see a huge spike and digital will continue to play a huge role in consumers’ fitness going forward.
I don't know if things will ever get back to what was considered normal due to some gyms and studios having to close and other consumers just adapting how they operate day to day when it comes to fitness.
Are you noticing any particular trends emerging in customer preferences? Any activities becoming more popular as a result?
On our platform we saw a spike of 40+ % for outdoor content - meaning trail-biking, running, outdoor activities - and I think that is going to become more and more popular over time. And the outdoor fitness classes and meet ups.
I also think that a move back to what we call ‘minimalist fitness’ - meaning bodyweight, kettlebell and dumbbells, versus connected fitness equipment, is coming.
Do on-demand classes suit a different customer type than live-streamed classes? How so (if so)?
Yes live-streamed classes offer some level of interaction and engagement that on-demand doesn't, but on-demand can be done any time making it more useful for most consumers. I think a mix of both is needed for businesses to survive long term.
What advantages will at-home fitness have over in-location/IRL going forward? Will the two parts of the industry have to work more closely together?
At-home fitness has an obvious advantage being that it's technically safer, easier to access and can be done any time. Especially when you think about in-person fitness being built around people's work schedules.
Going to the gym before and after work in the larger cities is now going to change if work from home continues.
Should operators be happy with ‘off the shelf’ or ‘ready-made’ streaming platforms like IGTV or Zoom? What are the risks if they do adopt those?
They truly can't be happy with those offerings because there's no business model behind them, they have to have some type of customized version that lets them charge for their time and I also think that live-streaming has to be partnered with on-demand
Give us three words that sum up the near future for health and fitness:
Accessible, affordable, outside!
Only time will tell how various businesses will adapt going forwards, but we can safely say that 2020 has flipped how we workout on its head. How have these uncertain times affected how you see your business going forwards in a post-lockdown world?
Stay tuned for more expert interviews on the Move blog...