Tech CEOs Talk Consumer Trends in Fitness & Wellness

ABC Fitness’ Bill Davis and Mindbody’s Fritz Lanman break down some of the key data points they’ve seen over the last year
This article is adapted from a version that originally appeared in ATN’s 2024 State of Fitness & Wellness 2024 report, available for download here

As fitness and wellness settles into its new normal post-pandemic, some interesting data points are starting to emerge, most of which are encouraging for the overall health of the industry. 

Athletech News spoke with the CEOs of ABC Fitness and Mindbody, two of the largest software firms in fitness and wellness, to pick their brains on the key trends they’ve seen over the 12-month span that ended in early 2024, and what they could mean for the industry moving forward.

In-Person Fitness Returns, Especially at Boutiques

It’s been said that in-person experiences are surging post-pandemic, and the data backs this up. 

“In-person fitness and wellness is exploding again and formats that are hard to replicate at home are on the rise,” says Fritz Lanman, CEO of Mindbody and ClassPass.

Lanman noted that, for the first time ever, Pilates was the number one workout on ClassPass in 2023. The popularity of Pilates studios over other fitness modalities is likely due in part to the difficulties of recreating the Reformer experience at home. 

“Hot yoga bookings were also popular in 2023 as people can’t replicate this form of yoga at home,” Lanman added. 

Another notable trend is the emergence of what Lanman calls “sports as wellness.”

“ClassPass found sports and recreation bookings were up 92% from 2022, and 33% of consumers note that they prioritize fun and play specifically with a goal of supporting their well-being,” Lanman adds. “These unique, in-person experiences will continue to bounce back strongly over the next few years.”

Fritz Lanman (credit: Mindbody)

Consumers Are More Experimental Than Ever

Not only are fitness and wellness consumers returning to in-person experiences, they’re eager to try new things. 

“Our findings show that the average active consumer has a high ‘wellness IQ’ and is interested in new modalities,” says Bill Davis, CEO of ABC Fitness, citing data from the company’s January 2024 Innovation Report

This was “reinforced by the increase in January new joins in global studios and boutiques, up 22% year-over-year,” Davis adds, citing ABC data. 

Consumers are increasingly coming to expect more than just fitness from their gym or studio experience. 

“We expect to see a new phase of growth in the fitness industry that incorporates nutrition, recovery and mental health as key parts of the average member’s fitness journey,” Davis shares. “Whether dedicated recovery studios or adding cold plunge facilities to your club, we are seeing the focus shift to overall well-being. The studio, gym or personal trainer is the gateway to more holistic health opportunities for members.”

Bill Davis (credit: ABC Fitness)

Gyms and studios should also consider being active in philanthropy and community outreach. 

“Our data also shows that 58% of active consumers find it important for their fitness club to embrace social causes,” Davis notes.

AI Should Be a Priority – Software Can Help

It should come as no surprise that artificial intelligence (AI) is top of mind in 2024. Fitness and wellness brands have begun to experiment with AI in areas like personal training, motivation and program design, but that’s just the beginning. 

“We will continue to see the rise of AI in more fitness and wellness experiences,” Lanman predicts. “Personalized fitness is becoming more and more important for consumers as all individuals have different goals and needs, and we are seeing companies and studios incorporate the unique advantages of AI into their programming already – whether that’s through smart hardware or bespoke plans.”

On the business side, fitness and wellness software providers are putting AI to work in creative ways to help gyms acquire, engage and retain members. 

Mindbody is adding AI features like ‘Clients at Risk,’ which leverages data to predict when a client is losing their motivation to continue booking, and ‘Big Spenders,’ which uses machine learning to predict early on if a particular customer will become a “big spender” over their lifetime at a studio.

ABC Fitness is also leveraging AI in a number of ways, including using it to help predict member churn.

“While the increased demand for technology options and personalization can seem like a challenge in our industry, our aim at ABC Fitness is to help redefine what a club operator’s growth can look like by helping seamlessly integrate new technologies into their arsenal of tools and decision-making support,” Davis says. 

Fitness & Wellness Spending Stays High

Despite a fraught economic climate including high inflation, consumers are still willing to pay for fitness and wellness services. 

Household spending on fitness is up 3% compared to January 2023, according to data from ABC Fitness. 

“The data also shows that the industry has seen a nearly 90% increase in check-ins since pre-pandemic, demonstrating the increased demand for access to healthy activities and the importance of physical fitness in the average consumer’s life,” Davis adds.

Data from Mindbody and ClassPass tell a similar story. 

“Fortunately, we have found wellness spending is still a priority with 64% of consumers saying wellness is more important than other leisure expenses,” Lanman says. However, he notes that brands shouldn’t be lulled into a false sense of security. 

“It’s more important than ever for the industry to provide tremendous quality of experience and provide spaces for consumers to want to spend their time and money, and maybe put those daily struggles out of their mind for a few hours of the day,” he says.

The post Tech CEOs Talk Consumer Trends in Fitness & Wellness appeared first on Athletech News.


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