news • Jan 16 2024

The Return of In-Person Fitness: Why Exercise is a Big Business

Health is a form of wealth. In recent years, the in-person fitness industry has proven to be incredibly lucrative. In 2022, its revenue in the United States was approximately $30.6 billion, and was projected to hit $30.8 billion in 2023. Last year, a Deloitte report found that the total impact of the health and wellness market worldwide has reached $91.22 billion. 

While gyms have always been popular, fitness has faced a significant evolution since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar to the trend of wellness tourism, another booming leg of the wellness industry, fitness is emphasized more than ever. Seen as a vital component to our “new normal,” fitness is playing a strong role in commercial design, as businesses use artificial intelligence and virtual reality to create unique experiences. As a result, the industry is proving to be on the cutting edge of innovation. 


Post-Pandemic Fitness: How Things are Different

Post-pandemic, things have changed in the fitness industry. While low-cost memberships used to be the most important attraction for fitness enthusiasts, statistics show that has changed. According to the Global Health and Fitness Association, a convenient location, the right equipment, and cleanliness are consumers’ most important criteria. “The result is that today’s gym members are more willing to pay if a club provides what they’re looking for,” the findings show. 

Another important aspect of how in-person fitness is currently being designed is the reliance on technology. The integration of technology and digital innovations like apps and wearable devices are one of the most exciting developments in the field. It relies on artificial intelligence for a variety of tasks, whether as a tool for sales and marketing or in maintaining CRM systems and other consumer facing services

The isolation from one’s peers proved to be a challenge for many during the pandemic. People continue to look for ways to connect with others. It’s no secret that exercise is scientifically proven to be beneficial for one’s mental health. For example, the New York Times recently explored how pickleball is being used as a way to combat to male loneliness. Through fitness, people are connecting with others and alleviating the isolation that blossomed during the pandemic.


The Expansion and Strategic Design of In-Person Fitness

There are some incredibly exciting innovations in the world of in-person fitness around the corner. 

In a partnership with FitLab, Nike is opening a network of studios. The first is  the Nike Running Studio, where each treadmill is equipped with a “giant NRS Pack Screen” that allows participants to “compete in immersive solo and group challenges designed to make running your favorite part of the day.” With each class focusing on a unique element of running that affects the participants overall fitness, it takes the practice far beyond just going outside for a jog. It’s a great demonstration of how a task like running can be transformed into a dynamic, immersive experience. As you’d expect, each location will have a strong retail component, selling merchandise to clients who sign up for classes.

The power of Pickleball is another trend you can expect to see around every corner.  A step further than a conversion of the tennis court at your local park, dead commercial spaces, like former Bed Bath & Beyond stores that are currently sitting empty, are being converted into exciting pickleball venues. In fact, entrepreneurs are avidly searching for venues to convert into pickleball clubs. Not only is it a creative way to reuse empty space, but it’s a strong example of how in-person fitness continues to grow and evolve over time. 


The Future of In-Person Fitness

As we move further away from the height of the pandemic, the in-person fitness industry will only expand further. The increased emphasis on technology, which will provide a new means for participants to improve their health, will fuel the expansion. And the profits will be significant: The revenue of the fitness, health, and gym club industry is projected to hit $30.8 billion for 2023. 

That’s why this is the time to embrace these tremendous innovations. As people gain a greater understanding that a healthy life is an enjoyable one, businesses can claim their stake in an exciting, profitable industry.  

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