What Apple’s Fitness+ Means For The Fitness Industry
Fitness in 2020 just got a major shakeup courtesy of Apple. This week, the tech giant unveiled Fitness+, a new subscription service for virtual fitness classes. As with almost anything Apple does, it’s a game-changer.
But Fitness+ isn’t necessarily bad news for other fitness brands who are trying to straddle the new hybrid of virtual / in-person workouts. Instead, it’s a sign that the hybrid model is here to stay – and a sign of continued demand for fitness as a whole (there’s nothing like a global pandemic to make one hyperaware of one’s well-being, right?). If the world’s biggest company (Apple is current valued at $2 trillion) is putting its bets on this sector, it’s a clear sign of the industry’s staying power.
Apple Fitness+ Fast Facts
First, a little background on Apple Fitness+.
- Apple says that the service is built for the Apple Watch, but it integrates with iPhones, iPads and the Apple TV.
- Users will have access to studio-style workouts delivered by trainers and featuring motivating music.
- Fitness+ is personalized to each user. The service considers previously completed workouts and suggests new options that match the workouts users select most often, or something fresh to balance their current routine.
- Fitness+ will offer several different workout types including cycling, treadmill, rowing, HIIT, strength, yoga, dance, core and cooldowns. Apple says it will add more workouts on a regular basis.
- Customers can use any brand of equipment with Fitness+. Many workouts can be done with no equipment at all or just a set of dumbbells.
- The service costs $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year — and the first three months are free with the purchase of a new Apple Watch.
- Check out Apple’s full Fitness+ release.
Does Apple Fitness+ mean that the in-studio fitness world is on its way out? Definitely not. Even before COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown began, it was becoming increasingly clear that a new hybrid of virtual and in-person fitness experiences was the future of the industry. Fitness enthusiasts still thrive in an in-studio setting, enjoying the camaraderie and in-the-moment excitement that only a group experience can deliver. But thanks to the pandemic, those same people were forced to shift to a mostly online workout (with some notable in-person exceptions).
As more studios reopen, consumers want to blend the human connections of in-person fitness with the convenience of virtual offerings. A recent Mindbody study indicated that while 93 percent of consumers plan to go back to their previous fitness routines, 46 percent of them plan to include a virtual component moving forward. That’s why something like the Mindbody app will remain a leading wellness marketplace for consumers. It makes it easy for people to search for local workouts—in-person, virtual and wherever they go.
Peloton vs. Apple Fitness+
As many have noted, Apple’s target is likely Peloton, which boasts a membership of 1.4 million subscribers (a number that has been steadily growing during the pandemic). Peloton offers a number of digital fitness classes led by trainers. Those classes are just a small part of the Peloton puzzle, however.
The brand is best known for its high-end – and therefore expensive – connected bicycles and treadmills. To that end, the biggest difference between Peloton and Fitness+ thus far in this early stage is that the former is a pricier option, while the latter is a bit (okay, a lot) more wallet friendly. Apple Fitness+ costs $9.99 per month with no equipment needed; Peloton’s subscription is $39 per month, plus the bike (starting at $1,895) or treadmill (starting at $4,295).
Fitness Gateway + Personalization
The exciting news is that, given its relatively low cost, Apple Fitness+ could serve as a gateway for consumers who previously might not have opted for a healthier lifestyle. Now, a new audience of millions will have easy access to an array of workouts. But don’t expect all of these consumers to necessarily stick with Apple. Once they’ve been exposed to the world of fitness, they’ll begin “snacking” with other offerings in their search for the perfect workout regime. That’s why personalization is so key. Fitness+ delivers that via its custom recommendation engine. But is it enough?
This is where independent, local studios can rise to the top. As new fitness fans start to narrow down their workout preferences, they’re going to want a level of personalization that an algorithm can’t offer. They’re going to want that human connection with a trainer who can really dial into their specific fitness needs and goals, and also ask how their recent vacation was. The in-studio setting is still the ideal in this regard. But local studios are going to have to step up and streamline their offerings, both in-person and online. They’ll need to create a culture that makes each client feel like they are enjoying the most convenient and authentic community-oriented experience.
Make no mistake, Apple’s Fitness+ will have a major impact on the fitness landscape and the online-offline providers that comprise it. But the primary result will be a whole new crop of consumers who are ready to prioritize their health and wellness – which is an industry win.
For TURNER insight in your inbox every Wednesday, sign up for the Weekly Download.