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The Future of Fitness Tech After Covid.

We're discussing the impact that Coronavirus had on the world of physical and mental health, with home workouts becoming the norm of 2020 and the increase this brought to technology in the fitness industry.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought the fast-moving world to a complete standstill and the impact of numerous lockdowns were drastic. The only thing we could do was follow the social distancing rules and stay at home, which took its toll on the entire world.

With closures of fitness centres and activity groups all around the UK, it created a prolonged loss of revenue, job losses and affected the routine of all the consumers - leading to a rise in downloads and subscriptions for fitness apps as well as a huge rise in online sales. These apps, streaming services and 'at home' gym gear helped people to stay active and motivated during this time.

Whilst many consumers return to the gym with restrictions being eased, the virtual world of fitness isn't going anywhere.

The Impact

The pandemic caused many closures of businesses and public places resulting in everyone's lives to come to a sudden stop, especially those who were avid gym users! This affected a lot of people's physical and mental health, as fitness is a high factor in reducing anxiety and depression, whilst also improving self-esteem and all-around physical health.

People took it upon themselves to start working out from home in order to keep up with their usual routines or even start a new journey of their own with personal development.

The NHS was there to support, not only on the frontline but with us by providing the free Couch to 5k app. The app was produced to create a running plan for beginners, helping those who are unfit or don't regularly exercise in order to take positive steps for someone's health and fitness. The app provided people with guided commentary from a professional coach and the ability to track their progress.

At the beginning of the lockdown, from March until the end of June - the NHS Couch to 5K app had a total of 858,000 downloads compared to 448,000 from the year prior, creating a 92% increase!

"Lockdown has been challenging for us all, but it's hugely positive to see so many people using this opportunity to get more active and using Public Health England's app, part of its Couch to 5k campaign" - Rosanna O'Connor, Acting Director for Health Improvement at Public Health England.

The increase in sales and downloads

Fitness equipment retailers suddenly saw a dramatic increase in online sales, with everyone ordering equipment to use in the limited amount of space in their own homes - showing the most popular sales going towards weights, benches, resistance bands and many more items.

A company that comes to mind is Peloton. They had experienced a 66% surge in sales with their global membership base hitting 3.1 million at the end of June 2020 - this is more than double from the year prior to the pandemic. In the space of just six weeks, more than 1.1 million people had downloaded the Peloton Digital app, which offered a 90-day free trial of home workouts that didn't require their $2,245 Peloton bike or its $4,295 treadmill - allowing users to continue their fitness journey cost-free.

Due to their dramatic increase in consumers and sales, Peloton decided to slash their prices for the existing treadmill and bike, to make their products more accessible during a tough time.

Peloton have also announced that the number of "connected fitness" subscribers, who access the remote classes via the machines had jumped up to more than 1.09 million at the end of June, resulting in an increase of 113% in comparison to the previous year.

Since home workouts became the new normal, people turned to virtual classes online through Zoom, online streams, pre-recorded classes and app downloads - creating a dramatic increase in the market.

One of the most successful companies that had a huge increase in users was Strava. The popular social training platform saw a 33% increase in uploaded activities over the last year, with 1.1 billion activities being uploaded and an incredible 2 million new users a month. They now have over 73 million active users with more downloading and subscribing daily!

Strava uses GPS technology to record daily exercise with their community, which allows their users to compare performances.

"During a challenging year, it has been a privilege to connect athletes to what motivates them and help them find their personal best - from solitary virtual marathons to midday walks while working from home." - Co-founder Michael Horvath.

The Discussion

With the widespread availability of fitness tech, it seems to be a win for health-conscious consumers and also brings plenty of opportunities for those who don't feel confident enough to hit the gyms straight away.

"Apps have enabled a sense of 'being in this together', through the pursuit of similar goals, communal encouragement and the sharing of ideas." - Dr Jill Owen, Sports Psychologist.

Recent data from market research shows that the global fitness app market will grow to $14.64 billion in 2027, so will it continue to grow as it has throughout the pandemic? Only time will tell but in the meantime, it remains an exciting space for consumers and companies to be part of, with a vast amount of growth potential still existing.

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