5 July 2021, by Julia Bernert

These topics will shape the future of the fitness industry

Be it increased health consciousness, the use of new technologies or modified sports habits, the pandemic has unlocked huge potential for the fitness industry. And Fred Hoffman revealed where this potential lay at the Club Industry event.

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The industry is getting ready for the time after the coronavirus. Although COVID-19 has made the past 15 months extremely difficult for more than just the fitness industry, people are slowly shifting their focus away from the financial devastation that has been wrought. That is because the trend towards utilising state-of-the-art technologies and a media-driven rise in health awareness have unlocked tremendous potential for the fitness industry. And Fred Hoffman revealed where this potential lay at the Club Industry event ‘The Future of Fitness’ on 16 June 2021.


Fascinating insights, lively dialogue and a high-calibre international line-up of top speakers and new faces were on offer at the FIBO partner event ‘The Future of Fitness’ organised by Club Industry on 16 and 17 June 2021. One of the first presentations was delivered by Fred Hoffman from Fitness Resources Consulting Services. In his keynote entitled ‘Five Issues of Shaping the Future of Work in the Fitness Industry’, he identified the topics that fitness professionals will not be able to avoid, and even ventured a forecast: “The future is bright.” 


Coronavirus: The elephant in the room. Or in a china shop?

Lockdowns, government-mandated closures, short-time work – the list of burdens imposed by the coronavirus crisis is a long one, and it has led to many laments and a great deal of despair. And not only in the fitness industry. Whereas some people timidly refer to the coronavirus as the elephant in the room, in his keynote Fred Hoffman went a step further. Why not refer to the coronavirus as the elephant in a china shop? Did the coronavirus wreak havoc on the fitness industry? Yes, it did. Are the effects of the pandemic clear to see? Yes, they are. Has the wreckage opened up room for innovation and modernisation? Yes, it has.


A new mission

“It has not been an unmitigated disaster,” said Hoffman as he began by directing attention to the catalytic effect of the crisis. “For the future, it is essential that we seize the positives that have resulted from the pandemic. People were forced to abstain from many things during the lockdown, and one of the results has been a new-found awareness of the necessity of exercise and movement, something that gives the industry a clear and irrefutable mission. Not to mention the fact that we have been forced to rethink everything simply to survive.” According to Hoffman, the pandemic has resulted in more people having access to physical activity programmes. Not only through providers’ new, attractively priced digital or hybrid models, but also on account of people’s sudden desire to try out new, coronavirus-compliant activities.


Older, overweight and open to technology: that is what the customer of the future will look like.

Speaking of customers: Fred Hoffman said that “defining the target markets of the future” is the second compulsory topic for all fitness professionals, and that is not only on account of our ageing society. He pointedly worked his way through three trends with lasting potential on the basis of individual target groups. First and foremost was ‘medical fitness’, a trend that has been riding the ongoing health boom. ‘Medical fitness’ offers fitness providers an array of exciting opportunities for collaborating with hospitals, practices and other medical facilities to reach new target groups – from the generation born during the war all the way to Generation Z. 

One area closely related to ‘medical fitness’ that Fred Hoffman considers to be extremely important is ‘weight loss’. Worldwide, more than 650 million adults are obese, and over 340 million children and adolescents between the ages of five and 19 are overweight or obese. “There is tremendous potential that can literally be activated here,” of that Hoffman was certain. 

And, last but not least, people's comfort with technology is changing along with society’s demographics. That is because the number of digital natives in the world continues to grow, and the acceptance of virtual – or at least hybrid – training programmes is growing even outside of Generations Y and Z. That is why it is worthwhile for fitness providers to review their offerings – and pay greater attention to connectivity.


The new zeitgeist: fitness is no longer enough.

“Wellness is the way to go” – that is how Fred Hoffman put it in the next portion of his presentation as he called on his audience to join in the ongoing wellness boom. He is certain: “Sport is no longer the sole focus in the studio.” Today it is also about lifestyle, well-being and health. It is a trend that has long since reached the working world in a wide variety of wellness programmes, and it will be increasingly decisive when it comes to customer acquisition, loyalty and recovery. That is why he chose ‘wellness’ as his next top topic and called on all fitness providers to seize the opportunity presented by the wellness craze – and to sound out the marketplace so that they can optimise their own products and services. The goal: to integrate new components into their own business models and make their businesses even more appealing.


Leverage new technologies

Fred Hoffman offered the same advice when it came to digitalisation and new technologies – including artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Hoffman encouraged them to act: “That is an area in which we must all continue our professional development – no one can afford to ignore it any longer.” Hoffman, a US-American business coach who lives in Paris, called on fitness providers to view apps, fitness gadgets, smart gyms, online platforms and other such innovations not as competitors, but rather as valuable additions. “Your clients want to be able to train wherever they are, at any time, and ideally with a mobile device. Do them – and yourselves – a favour and get with the times. Take advantage of the things that technology has now made possible.” 

These range from live streams and on-demand offers available exclusively to members to podcasts, webinars and online conferences, even lucrative collaborations with tech providers and the customised implementation of artificial intelligence and virtual reality. When used with care, chatbots can alleviate the workload of fitness providers both internally and for external communications, while striking VR applications with gamification elements can serve as USPs and reach new target groups. 

With his information-packed presentation at the start of ‘The Future of Fitness’, Fred Hoffman sketched a promising future for the global fitness industry and backed it up with facts.


The sessions from FIBO’s ‘The Future of Fitness’ partner event are available on demand. Simply register free of charge at https://futureoffitness.clubindustry.com.