At the start of the pandemic, we had to learn to live within the four walls of our homes — eating, working, studying, socialising, and exercising from our living rooms. Suddenly, companies such as Peloton boomed overnight as people rushed to blow off that pandemic steam.
What is Peloton? An app and exercise bike rolled into one, it provides thousands of on-demand classes available through its membership club, as well as workout videos which customers can live-stream through their Peloton products.
Whilst Peloton was already doing quite well before the pandemic, "it just exploded" during quarantine. The company reported second quarter fiscal 2021 revenues up 128 percent year on year to $1.06bn, and forecast full fiscal year revenues of $4bn, a figure that has been ratcheted up several times during the pandemic.
Today, Peloton has a market capitalisation of $32bn, and their subscriptions are still growing at triple-digit percentages year on year, proving just how much connection matters, whether that's physically or online.
Lockdown or not, working out from home has certainly picked up in popularity.
Closer to home, our team at A-Pass has also caught the fitness bug. A-Pass director, Robin Harris, regularly works out (and gets grumpy if he misses exercise for a few days), and shared that he's been exercising even more during the pandemic to reduce stress.
"I was able to do a lot of exercise and eat very healthily during my 21 day quarantine back in October/November last year – which was a really big transformation as I kept a strict diet and did daily exercises too, like weights and running on a treadmill."
I think the pandemic has made people more aware of the importance of being healthy as so many people who died from covid had pre-existing conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, hypertension, all of which are associated with an unhealthy lifestyle.
One thing that did change during lockdown was how I exercised. Pre-Covid, I used to work out only in gyms, but with those closed for large parts of 2020 and 2021, I was forced to get creative and find places and ways to train outdoors. I had to improvise, which meant doing High-Intensity Interval Training classes on friends' rooftops with a trainer, exercising around San Yet San Park, early morning swims from Deep Water Bay to Repulse Bay, as well as workouts on my balcony using skipping ropes.
Now, when I head back to Hong Kong next week for quarantine (round 2!), I have ordered a treadmill, dumbbells, and a bench to be delivered to my room so I'll still be able to do daily runs and workouts from my room. I'll also be training with my 2 kids, and we've set targets for the whole quarantine duration. My son, aged 8, has to run a total of 56km and my daughter, aged 6, has to do 42 km on the treadmill over the 14 days. I'll be trying to do 100km in total.” shares Robin Harris.
"At a time of inconsistency and uncertainty, exercise has allowed positive routines to be continued or created with a healthy focus and a sense of community." - Sport psychologist Dr Jill Owen.
With health emerging as a focal point for people readjusting to their “new normal”, after months of social distancing, our approach to fitness and overall wellness may be permanently altered, experts have said. McKinsey and Company's survey even reports 40 percent of the general population now consider wellness a top priority in daily life.
While "billions will be lost in the wellness industry in 2020 because of months of shuttered brick-and-mortar businesses,” said Beth McGroarty, vice president of research for the Global Wellness Institute, “at the big-picture, long-term level, the case for the wellness concept and wellness markets post-pandemic looks very bullish.”
And as mass vaccinations increase globally, what happens to the fitness consumer? Will people stick with their home equipment or will they rush back to prior gyms? In Hong Kong, fitness studios and various workout venues are finding it hard to return normal clientele numbers. In the U.S., many have shared how terrified they are of going back to their gyms (if there is any to go back to). In some instances, people have found their fitness club closed down.
"The answer appears to be something in between. The fitness industry is shifting from surviving the COVID-19 crisis to looking for ways to thrive in the next normal, building consumer relationships that last and grow."
Established fitness and wellness businesses will continue rising, but emerging fitness companies will have to rapidly adapt and adjust their plans of action to keep pace with the demand and current circumstances, whether that’s continuing to digitalise in any way that they can, finding more ways to make fitness possible from anywhere, providing on-site fitness solutions, or creating in-home tools and equipment.
Moreover, these companies will need to commit to an approach that satisfies consumer needs and earns their trust as well as a spot in their regular fitness routines. Companies able to do this may see a promising continuous increase even after COVID-19 — because if there’s anything that this pandemic has revealed, it’s that taking care of one’s health, and taking control of the ways we remain healthy, is more crucial now than ever before.