Over the past two years, and for the foreseeable future virtual fitness is enjoying significant growth, inspiring gyms and instructors worldwide to offer live and on-demand workouts during lockdowns. While many of us adapted our health and fitness rituals to being confined in our homes, we also realized the potential of new forms of movement and entertainment combined.
Indeed, more of us are now turning to exercise as a form of entertainment and escapism. According to Ipsos, ‘luxury’ is now seen as a dream space and an escape from anxiety and consumers increasingly expect creativity, dreams and wonderment when they engage in fitness experiences.
In response, the fitness industry is becoming more content-driven as people expect new forms of entertainment to inspire their workouts. ‘We once played video games in malls, but then people discovered they could play at home and experience the same connection,” said Brad Olson, chief membership officer at Peloton in Fast Company. ‘The same is happening for fitness.’
The future of fitness will be a blend of digital and physical, which is encouraging when you look at Equinox Media, a subsidiary of Equinox Group, which is aiming to expand the luxury gym operator’s digital platform. The upscale fitness chain made its name on eucalyptus towels, lavish facilities and expensive equipment. But its future is starting to rely on phone screens as people's habits have changed. Expensive memberships to its roughly 100 gyms across the United States served as Equinox's primary revenue driver for its three-decade existence. Digital, meanwhile, wasn't top of mind. That changed last year when the company started selling stationary bikes that streamed SoulCycle classes and launched an app, called Equinox+, that is loaded with spin classes, meditation, strength training, boxing and Tom Brady-backed recovery workouts.
This is an idea that is also underpinned by digital fitness platform Obé, which developed its Workout Parties after noticing members were using video chatting to exercise together. Features like this recreate the social element of group workouts in virtual classes. Founders Ashley Mills and Mark Mullett created Obé with the hopes of blending entertainment and fitness, which has fostered a roster of spirited instructors and fun, themed classes. Turning a solo workout into a party with friends or family is one way to make exercise seem more like a highlight in your day than a chore.
Consumers are quickly realizing that the more entertaining a fitness experience is, the more they feel the physical and emotional reward of a workout. And this is crucial to building more sustainable fitness habits. These experiences focus not only on rational benefits, but also on positive emotional and sensational benefits that are intrinsically linked to motivation and adherence.
Social media has been instrumental in this shift. Across TikTok, posts tagged with #dancetutorial have been viewed over 7bn times to date. Ryan Heffington, the award-winning Los Angeles-based choreographer, has turned to Instagram Live to host Sweatfest – an enjoyable hour-long dance workout that he streams each week. For fitness influencers, ‘FitTok’ enables instructors to transform seemingly endless and often lowbrow amusements into something that makes the idea of living an active life seem fun and more accessible.
Movertainment is one of the 5 Self-Care Trends for 2022 identified by Malayaleesangamam and Tom Savigar, founder of Avansere, to offer what we all need most at this unique time: new rituals and habits to take wellbeing and happiness into our own hands.
Check the other 4 trends:
Mindlessness Rising: the renaissance in reflective and mindless pursuits to elevate creativity, ingenuity and lifelong learning.
Curator Culture: coping with too much data and people’s attention spans getting shorter.
Meditative Design: demystifying personal development and encouraging positive moods.
Restful Realities: new solutions for one of the most neglected aspects of wellbeing – sleep.
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