Another exciting new year has begun for the fitness industry! As your busiest month of the year winds down, we wanted to reflect on areas the fitness industry saw significant growth in 2017 that are poised to continue to prosper this year. We spoke with Elizabeth Hathaway, Director of Partner Success at ClassPass, to highlight the biggest trends in fitness to watch out for in 2018.
What trends from 2017 will continue to see growth this year?
After the rise of HIIT/strength training workouts over the past few years, 2017 brought in the perfect counterbalance to those more intensive options with a significant uptick in the availability of restorative classes. More customers are now looking for ways to achieve mind-body wellness in their routines while also preventing injury. Over the past year, there was a 16% increase in the number of users on ClassPass who made reservations for meditation, restorative, and recovery classes. Across our top markets, we’ve seen partners offer classes that focus on recovery and wellness, such as meditation, restorative yoga, or stretching or foam-rolling classes. We’ve even seen a number of studios open up specifically dedicated to these areas, such as INSCAPE, a meditation studio based in New York City, and the Recovery Lounge in Santa Monica, CA, where customers can sign up for 20-minute blocks of NormaTec Recovery time, which uses compression sleeves to massage limbs and speed up post-workout recovery. We anticipate this trend will continue to gain traction this year and that we’ll see studios looking for ways to bring more restorative classes in-house to become a one-stop-shop for fitness and wellness.
Along those lines, in 2017 we saw many of our partner studios and gyms begin to diversify their fitness options, even if they were previously focused on one workout genre. In such a competitive industry, business owners recognize that offering more than one style of fitness appeals to customers who value variety in their workout routine and helps drive acquisition efforts. You’ll now see barre studios debuting more cardio options, or a Crossfit studio introducing a yoga class a few times a week. We anticipate we’ll see more studios expand beyond their traditional methods this year to incorporate complimentary workouts, workshops, and events that appeal to an even wider user base. That said, it’s important to continue to ensure the high quality of new classes so as not to confuse your user base about new offerings and remain true to your core brand identity.
What are some of the most-talked about new trends for 2018?
We’re really beginning to see incredible innovations in the intersection between technology and fitness. Video workouts have been trending for a while now, but 2018 will take this to the next level with an increase in the availability of live streaming class options. One of the biggest challenges for people working out at home is engagement and maintaining your motivation throughout the exercise, which is why we’re betting that live options that help you truly feel part of the experience will take hold. As a plus for studio owners, offering live streaming means you no longer have geographical or even space constraints for your customer base.
We’re beginning to see incredible innovations in the intersection between technology and fitness.
We’re also seeing technology have a bigger impact on studios with dynamic pricing. As business owners, you know that lowering your price via promotions or discounts can bring in more clients, but it also then becomes a challenge to maintain your pricing power among existing clients. Dynamic pricing is a way to price certain classes higher/lower depending on demand in order to maximize your overall revenue. It’s not unlike what what we’ve seen in other industries such as travel or live events, where price discrimination plus dynamic pricing helps drive revenue for inventory that would have otherwise gone unsold. Business owners looking to grow revenue should consider optimizing this channel in the new year. However, to avoid undermining your pricing power, it’s much better to seek dynamic pricing in an indirect channel — such as ClassPass — that offers you the opportunity to reach a different audience, rather than just lowering prices on your existing customers.
How can business owners capitalize on these trends in their own studio?
For many, fitness is a social experience. As the boutique fitness industry grows, more people want to feel part of the communities that a local studio space can offer. Even suburban areas — not just larger cities — are seeing growth in boutiques as more franchises expand across the country, such as CycleBar and Club Pilates. One of the most compelling reasons for customers to join those studios — beyond the health and wellness benefits — is to feel part of a community. Business owners should continually look for ways to make their class or studio feel like a social experience: by partnering with neighboring brands, such as a juice shop or local Lululemon, to offer in-studio events or workshops, or by encouraging clients to bring their friends to class through social referral campaigns.
Elizabeth Hathaway is the Director of Partner Success at ClassPass.