It’s been almost a year since we first heard about the new virus starting to spread far away in China. As veterans of the prior viruses that haven’t caused such a big mess, I remember myself sitting with my wife at home and ignoring it totally. It wasn’t part of the plan, that’s for sure.
It was later, already in 2020 when everybody started to realize that this is a classic “Black Sawn” case – something you could never get ready for because you couldn’t even imagine it happening.
Since February, we encountered an extraordinary era for mankind. I’m not the one who will tell you if it’s going to change the world, I’m not sure if people will behave completely different after that and if you should do something different to succeed. In my opinion, as we see between the lockdowns, people are in hurry to return to anything they did before but it’s too early to say.
On the other hand, I do have a very specific perspective on the fitness industry. I’ve been talking with hundreds of gym owners, managers, and coaches during the last few months. We at Arbox also have access to a tremendous amount of data about what’s happening deep within the industry and I had the chance to talk with the top-notch fitness leaders at different summits and conferences.
Based on this knowledge, here are my top five conclusions about the industry:
- Boutique fitness is going to rise: We see that the desire of people to do something that defines them hasn’t changed at all. Also, the need for society, to interact with people and the biological need for community has never been stronger. All this and the fear that some people will keep having from big places with a lot of people lead to the one conclusion -> Micro gyms will keep being the main growth factor of the industry.
- Online as an addition, not as a replacement: People speak about “online” as the next and only thing in fitness. I’m not sure these people ever spoke to the coaches :). In order to make this total transformation, coaches should be leading it and that’s not the case. Most of the coaches hate it, they would always prefer to have their athletes close to them. We can trust “online” as a great addition and opportunity to the brick and mortar gyms but it won’t replace them.
- Rethink business: The people that operate the micro gyms will now look at a new perspective on their business. What do they really offer to their clients? Is it about being good looking? About wellness or health? Or is it mostly about the community?
- Rebranding the industry: This period taught us that the industry should brand itself as wellness and health and not as leisure. I talk with many managers and coaches that are surprised when other people are considering them as non-essential while they truly believe in their essential work. The industry should start looking at the positive effect on people’s health and not as a place for hanging out.
- Acting like there’s a crisis around the corner: When you look at that deeply, the pandemic is extraordinary because it’s so widespread, but, a personal crisis to a specific gym is not a rare occurrence. A low-cost competitor opened a location on the same street? Serious damage happened to the facility? A beloved coach just left, together with their loyal audience? These scenarios were not taken into consideration in the industry but now, after we’re forced to – we have to be always ready to deal with a crisis.