Tech it to the limit


Wearable tech has been hailed as a major disruptor to the fitness industry in recent years.

Forbes reports that global wearables sales will grow by an average of 20% annually for the next five years, reaching a market size of $29 billion.

This is driven by smart watches, with the increase in popularity of fitness trackers also contributing. Devices such as Fitbit, Samsung Gear and Apple Watch allow users to track their progress on a real-time basis. American company Fitbit and Chinese company Huami are the key global players and account for 80% of sales in the wearables market. With respect to fitness trackers and smart clothing, the US market achieved $3 billion in revenue this year and was second only to China. Consumers were split roughly evenly between women and men, and one third were between the ages of 25 to 34.

So how are gyms embracing this opportunity and engaging their customers?

Increased gamification
Virtual reality has become a progressively popular and accessible form of exercise with the emergence of videogame-inspired formats including sword fighting and archery, as well as more traditional sports such as boxing and tennis. Playing games can both entertain gym goers and provide a distraction for those who have a lower propensity to participate in fitness activities. This presents an opportunity to capture spend from both established and under-represented groups within the fitness industry.

Social engagement
In an increasingly social media-focused industry, the opportunity to share workouts and engage with both friends and other members of fitness groups can foster community orientation and competition. Sharing on social media can help users stay motivated and achieve their goals, and brands like Nike and Under Armor have capitalized on this by building or acquiring social media networks to support their fitness software.

Studio enhancement
Wearable fitness technology has also become an integral differentiator for some fitness studios. Gyms like Orangetheory and F45 have launched heartrate and calorie monitoring bands for use in group sessions, where members have their individual stats displayed on a screen at the front of the class.

The aim is to incentivize users to benchmark and compete against themselves in a supportive community, while coaches can use the data to guide members on effort level.

The combination of these two industries is a compelling proposition, considering that the US health club market has grown at an average of 6% in recent years to over $30 billion in 2017.

According to Forbes, part of this growth can be attributed to the rise of wearable tech. Those who make the move to boost their use of wearables may not only be rewarded with an opportunity to take a larger share of the market, but will also have access to a vast amount of user data enabling a more tailored experience for their customers.

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Dan Stolarski
Managing Director
Pragma Consulting