Club Industry recently debuted its comprehensive guide to the future of the fitness industry, “Forward Five Years: How the Fitness and Wellness Industry Will Change.” Wondering what to expect in the coming years, and how it will impact your fitness business? Here’s a closer look at key takeaways from the 60-page report. 

A Lot Can Change in Five Years

Five years may not seem like so long ago. However, in the fast-moving fitness business space, it can be an eternity. Posits Pamela Kufahl in the report’s Editor’s Note,  “If you were transported back in time to 2013 and stepped inside your health club, wellness center, university rec center or YMCA at that time, what would you find? My bet is that you would find that your business at that time looked different than it does today. Some of those changes might be subtle, but others are likely more noticeable.”

The same applies looking ahead. We can say with absolute certainty that the fitness business will look very different five years from now. Your fitness business’s ability to anticipate what’s coming next can mean the difference between success and stagnation.

Changing Fitness Business Models

One area ripe for change in the fitness industry? Fitness club business models. Contend ClubIntel co-founders Stephen Tharrett and Mark Williamson, “Although predicting what business models will be thriving five years from now is fraught with risk, we believe that the forces inherent in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (e.g., artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality and the internet of things), along with a few explosive socioeconomic trends (e.g., income inequality, craft consumerism, tribalism and generational shifts) will result in the reinvention of existing business models and creation of new ones.”

Specifically, Tharrett and Williamson predict that budget clubs, boutique fitness studios, boutique lifestyle villages, and virtual clubs will prosper over the next half-decade. Meanwhile, conventional business models which fail to keep up will put themselves at risk. “We are in a period where many of today’s fitness business models will have to adapt and reinvent or become extinct,” Tharrett and Williamson caution. 

New Entrants to Watch

In addition to new business models, the report identifies new industry entrants expected to have a major impact, including digital aggregators, mobile platform developers, artificial intelligence (AI) developers, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), crowdfunding platforms, and accredited angel networks and private equity (PE). 

Think your fitness business can get away without embracing these new players? Think again, say industry experts. “New entrants are often the most influential disruptors to existing industries. Consequently, existing fitness operators and suppliers need to find ways to partner with these intruders or risk extinction,” say Tharrett and Williamson. 

The More Things Change…

While new developments are always arising, the report also points to ongoing growth areas. Topping the list? The relationship between technology and fitness. But just as today’s technology is different than yesterday’s, tomorrow’s will be different from today’s. Says digital health expert Mike Rucker, “Where technology is really going to play a significant role over the next two years is creating bridges to get members to mastery quicker. The keys to user experience, which is a significant part of product design in technology, is figuring out how to get the user to the end goal faster.” 

Woman and man in a fitness gym looking at a tablet together.

Wearables will very much be part of this future, as clubs learn to leverage the insights they provide toward faster, more actionable insights. This is already happening, insists data science company Reunify founder Jafar Adibi, with the expectation of more moving forward. “We realized that some of the public level data can open up some insights to what we know about the members. What we are really good at is we can use behavior and compare your (member) behavior to the past, say two or three years of everybody else, and see how the behavior changed, and who they are….we wanted to create context around the member,” he shares. 

In other words, wearables aren’t about providing data for data’s sake, but about using that data to drive member actions. 

Ultimately, while everything from disruptions to demographics may alter the fitness industry, one thing will remain constant: Improving the user experience will guide the way. To learn more about how wearables can help your fitness business survive and thrive the changes ahead,  download the Accuro catalog today.