Popular mass participation events from fitness pioneers such as B2Run, Threshold and Hyrox have ground to a halt during the pandemic, but the future is bright for this innovative sector as society adapts to a new normal.
The global fitness industry, valued at around $100 billion (2019 IHRSA Global Report), was booming before the pandemic. Corporate fitness firm B2Run, for example, staged 40 business runs in eight countries with almost 300,000 participants at its events in 2019.
Although its immediate impact has been brutal, the lockdown has energised plans from the most agile players to deepen client relationships and invest in diversified offerings. Sweeping changes in fitness habits will also benefit strategic areas of the personal and corporate fitness industry.
Run, run, run
There is no doubt that the statistics point to a seismic shift in fitness preferences.
The lockdown has triggered an 88 percent increase in exercise among people who would normally only be active up to one or two times a week, according to research from RunRepeat. Many of those who might have run once a week are now jogging three times over the same period. At the same time, nearly half of people say they will avoid the gym in the future, as concerns about small, confined spaces linger.
As interest in personal wellbeing grows, this changing picture points heavily in favour of outdoors participation events organisers such as Megamarsch, as well as urban exploration apps such as District.
To resonate with this growing audience, fitness companies have turned to social media with a mix of emotional content from their previous events and motivational content as key partners in individual fitness journeys. Social media has proven ideal for encouraging training and fitness levels.
New routes for a new normal
Agile firms are also adapting to the new landscape with more holistic digital solutions that forge deeper engagement with clients and fit more comfortably into restricted lifestyles. B2Fit, an app designed to promote workplace health, takes a detailed look at individual wellbeing from fitness to sleep and stress. New or updated team building products are emerging to reflect the need for social distancing.
Ultimately, the pandemic has only served to amplify many of the positive trends that were already fuelling a growing industry from active living, increased health consciousness and work-life balance to technology and the experiential economy.
As the world emerges from lockdown and more people embrace healthier lives, shared experiences and outdoor exercise, an evolving personal and corporate fitness industry looks primed to boom again.