Without a doubt, one of the most prevalent trends we are seeing in the health and wellness space is personalization. People crave personalization in every aspect of their lives, especially when it comes to their health. This has brought on the emergence of virtual health assistants and wearables, which allow patients to track their own health and wellness. We are also seeing a shift in the way doctors communicate with their patients, through providing digital support via patient portals and 24/7 phone lines. However, it doesn’t stop with healthcare; people are also expecting personalized experiences when it comes to fitness.
It feels like every day I hear someone talking about their recent experience in a fitness class – how they were trying a new studio, how sore it made them, or how much they loved it. Gone are the days of getting a gym membership at the local YMCA. Now, people are opting for boutique fitness studios that provide more than just a treadmill or elliptical. Now, people are looking for a fitness experience that is different every time they go.
According to the Nielsen Global Consumer Exercise Trends Survey 2014, millennials are the most likely to exercise in a fitness class (such as yoga, Pilates, or dance). Forty-five percent of millennials who exercise do so in a fitness class, compared to 27 percent of people aged 55 or older.
The personalized fitness trend is even more evident in the emergence of tools like ClassPass. ClassPass is a New York-based startup that launched in June 2013. ClassPass collects monthly subscriber fees from consumers in order to sample different workouts at local fitness studios and is valued at over $200 million.
The ClassPass advantage is that people can try multiple and different studios where every workout will be different. ClassPass has a relationship with over 3,000 studios who offer yoga, Pilates, cycling, strength training, barre, dance, and more. People are clearly seeing the value of this type of platform because in February 2015 consumers reserved 600,000 classes and the company reported $5 million in revenue.
While the boutique fitness craze seems to be a recent trend, many of them have been gaining steam for a few years now. SoulCycle, for example, is a New York City-based company that offers a full-body indoor cycling workout class. It was founded in 2006, and in 2014 Forbes stated their annual revenue was $87.6 million.
Pure Barre, which combines a ballet barre and Pilates workout, was founded in 2001. In July 2009, Pure Barre became a franchise and exploded in popularity. Pure Barre instructor Marisa Cavallaro explained, “Some people are kind of afraid of the gym because it’s a threatening environment or you know they’re afraid to use the weight machines because they don’t really know what to do.” With class size averaging at about 22 clients, Cavallaro says, “This is a safe place for them, they can come and get a lot of individualized attention.”
Downsize Fitness founder Francis Wisniewski explains, “Not every person in this country is fit and many feel uncomfortable at typical box gyms. You will see more, smaller, individualized training centers pop up—they won’t be huge chains, but they will be focused on the person and their goals rather than the 12-month membership market.” People are always looking for new ways to track their progress and ultimately achieve their fitness goals.
Overall, personalization is becoming a key element in healthcare and fitness. For fitness, in particular, people have started moving away from typical gym memberships and instead use wearables like FitBit and the Apple Watch and boutique fitness studios to get a workout and track their progress on their own. Moving forward as new technologies emerge, fitness is only going to get more personal and data-driven.