- While gyms struggle to recover from a $10 billion shift away from in-person workouts, a crop of online fitness stars are leading us into digital transformation through virtual training programs and personal brands.
- Business Insider asked influencers-turned-entrepreneurs how they see the future of the fitness industry changing from the pandemic.
- They told us success will continue to be driven by social media and building strong communities.
- Some see fitness taking on a hybrid model of both digital and physical experiences.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Nationwide shutdowns because of the pandemic transformed the fitness industry at warp speed, hitting gyms and studios especially hard in favor of at-home workouts.
Meanwhile, a crop of online fitness stars are leading us into digital transformation through virtual training programs and personalized apps, turning their massive followings into supportive communities, health and wellness platforms, and personal brands.
Business Insider asked four top influencers-turned-entrepreneurs in the fitness space, how they see the future of the industry changing because of the pandemic.
Most agree success will continue to be driven by social media and building strong communities. Some see fitness taking on a hybrid model of both digital and physical experiences.
Some responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.
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Jen Selter, equity owner of BlendJet
"I definitely see the future of social media evolving into more video. It's the perfect form of content to engage viewers and offer a more authentic approach. There has never been a more dynamic time for social media influencers to become entrepreneurs."
Simeon Panda, founder of JustLift
Simeon said many of the gym-based fitness professionals he's spoken to in the past found online training and digital programs daunting.
"The pandemic has abruptly taken away that stability," he said. "More and more fitness trainers are taking to social media to provide services, as it is currently the only avenue to do so."
He warns that a lucrative online clientele will have a huge impact on the fitness industry. "Most won't return to long hours of being in the gym all day, training clients and scouting for new clientele."
And he doesn't see a recovery in sight for the expo side of the industry. "Brand owners, who managed not only to survive, but excel during the pandemic, won't be quick to spend tens of thousands to exhibit. We have been able to secure just as many deals via email, phone and Zoom than we would networking at an expo."
Jennifer Jacobs, founder of J Method Fitness
"The future of fitness will continue to evolve and ultimately will be a hybrid of both the digital and physical experience. While the digital fitness experience has grown during the pandemic, it is still a simulation of an activity that was driven and sustained by human social interaction. The consumer will instinctively seek out these in-person interactions as soon as they are able to do so, all while still wanting to maintain that flexibility and choice of digital workouts in the comfort of their own home or space."
Dee Gautham, founder of The Boss Body Revolution
"Obviously, most of this industry is shifting online. There are a lot of pros to this, like convenience for consumers and easier tools to workout at home. I believe that the companies that succeed the most online will be those that focus intentionally on building a community online. Community is one of the most powerful reasons people join fitness classes or groups (think: SoulCycle or Crossfit). It will take extra effort to build that same sense of community online, where people can't hang out and chat after class or in the locker rooms. But there are certainly ways to do this, and I believe the companies who put effort in this area will be the ones who thrive during this pandemic and beyond."
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