It’s no surprise that the fitness industry has been severely affected by COVID-19 in the past year. Around 1000 fitness centres in Hong Kong were in a lockdown for more than 6 months due to the intense spread of COVID-19. Even when the government provided a one-off subsidy package worth HK$ 100,000 (USD 13,000) in April 2020, many fitness studio owners felt like it was not enough to cover the losses and claimed that they will not be able to survive 2020 if there was no other immediate financial support from the government. However, while this unprecedented situation has disrupted the financial sustainability for many, it has also provided decisive insight on how the fitness industry could evolve in the near future.
Based on a survey done by McKinsey & Company, 68% of the respondents finally see the importance of health and wellness during this crisis and have started prioritizing their health. Many have taken an interest to fitness and workouts, In fact, based on a joint report done by McKinsey and the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry, there has been an expected increase of 72% and 84% in home workout with digital instruction and outdoor individual sports in 2021 compared to pre-COVID-19 time.
Specifically in Hong Kong, outdoor classes such as beach yoga are gaining massive popularity. Main reasons being not only does it provide a change of scenery, but also with the mandatory mask-wearing regulation at all times, more people feel a greater sense of safety doing outdoor exercises compared to indoor exercises.
COVID-19 has brought about new trends in the fitness industry.
1. First of all, it has shed a light on the importance of delivering community-based value.
Social distancing and lockdown for the past 1.5 years have made many of us crave physical closeness with other people.
While it is not always possible with the COVID-19 situation ongoing, having a community-like culture is arguably an important aspect to scale your business successfully in this era. Community is a huge competitive advantage for boutique fitness, so boutique businesses should leverage on this advantage to create exceptional customer experience and to build sustainable connections with customers.
2. Technology has become more prevalent in the future of boutique fitness.
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Before COVID-19 struck, on-demand workout platforms like Peloton and glo have started building a sizeable community base. However, they were not generally known since most people preferred in-person classes or workout. COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for the growth of these services. Now, virtual classes have become the mainstream even for boutique fitness studios. With the gym and fitness studios reopening, hybrid services have been offered by many studios in Hong Kong and all around the world. While we are not sure what new technology the future could bring us, one thing we’re certain about is that the use of technology will grow in prevalence in this industry.
3. Finally, it’s safety first, everything else comes second