In today’s Wall Street Journal “The New Gym Class, Live on Your Phone” reports on a growing segment in the fitness industry. The data shows that while the majority of fitness dollars is still being spent on traditional gyms, that percentage has been falling since 2014. The data also indicates that the money is shifting toward subscription-based on-demand services. In fact, consumers are now spending more on these newer services than they are on the most popular fitness studio offerings of yoga and Pilates.
ClassPass offers a menu of options at different fitness studios in 31 cities in the U.S. Subscribers pay a flat, monthly fee to take three to ten classes per month, depending on the subscription level chosen, from any of the studios who participate in the ClassPass network in that city. This is less expensive than taking these classes a la carte directly from the studios and offers subscribers more variety in their workouts.
But, growing even faster are live and on-demand workout streaming services. The Daily Burn currently has the largest share of this booming market. The basic subscription, at $15 monthly, gives subscribers access to 200 recorded workouts plus a daily workout that streams live at 9am and then is available on-demand for the next 24 hours until the next live workout airs. The premium subscription, at $27 monthly, gives the subscriber access to 600 recorded workouts and a larger menu of live workout streaming options. As one would expect in any burgeoning industry, new players are entering every day, giving consumers more options at competitive prices.
One can easily imagine the limitless applications of these services and why they are displacing traditional gyms and boutique studios. They’re at your fingertips to be played on any device with streaming capability – phone, tablet, computer or internet enabled TV. They can be done anywhere, anytime, and in complete privacy. No worries about traffic, parking, lockers, embarrassing mishaps, rude behavior or being shut out of a full class. Offerings run the gamut of fitness disciplines. Suffice it to say, if it’s offered in a gym or exercise studio, you can get it through an on-demand subscription. Many of the workouts don’t require any equipment. But, equipment-specific workouts are also available. So, if you have access to items like a spinning bike or free weights, you’ll have even more workout options to choose from. There are also duration options. Sure, there are the standard 50-60 minute workouts. But there are sessions that can be done in 10, 20 or 30 minute increments as well. Finally, when one takes all the variables into consideration, it’s clear these services are more affordable than most gyms and studios.
Some smaller gyms and studios are catching on. They’re installing large screens in their group exercise rooms to broadcast live streaming workouts giving clients the ability to take advantage of the variety offered by subscription services without giving up access to equipment or the social aspect of an in-person group fitness class. Some are offering this as part of their membership packages, others are offering access for a small additional fee.
As a fitness professional, I’m very excited about the opportunity this gives so many Americans who want to exercise regularly but haven’t been able to make it stick. The two biggest obstacles most people cite for not working out are lack of time and money. You may not have time on a busy weeknight to get to the gym for a one-hour class, especially when you factor in commute time. Even if you have the time, there’s no guarantee the class you want to take is offered at the time you can be there. But, you probably can find 30 minutes most weeknights to pull up a workout – whatever workout you feel like doing in the moment – for a fraction of the cost.
If one of your 2017 goals is getting fit, consider a subscription-based service. It may be the exercise platform you’ve been wanting and needing all along.