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By Karen Euser, Content Product Manager, FunXtion

During lockdown, governments around the world imposed a ‘stay at home’ instruction to slow the spread of COVID-19. We have witnessed incredible innovation as operators, instructors and suppliers all migrate physical services online, streaming a vast array of live and on-demand content directly into homes.

The fitness industry has been catapulted into the digital age, a move that will influence our relationship with consumers forever. Now, as we move out of lockdown, what can we learn form the exercise habits of consumers working out from home?

FunXtion is an interactive digital fitness company that utilises the latest in digital technology to deliver high-quality, guided coaching, programming, and service. We also support business growth and development through real-time provision of business insight, such as user profiling and habits, and workout preferences.

As the global population spends more time in some state of lockdown and gyms slowly and cautiously start to re-open, we are starting to identify changes in the way consumers are choosing to workout and trends in the type of digital content consumers are enjoying.

FunXtion have been studying workout downloads and tracking changes in consumer behaviours. Below are my thoughts and insights to help providers of digital content ensure they continue to deliver content that meets the evolving needs of consumers.

What digital fitnes content do consumers want?

Since the lockdown began in the Netherlands in March, over 302,000 workout ‘plays’ have been analysed through the FunXtion platform. This has included 100 different workout types, each with a duration anywhere between seven and 30 minutes.

Initially, consumers showed a preference for short, higher intensity bodyweight workouts, with the most popular choices being  our four or seven-minute HIIT workouts. However, as people moved further into the period of self-isolation there has been a shift towards a preference for equipment –led workouts with a duration of between 15 to 30 minutes. Right now, our kettlebell, dumbbell and resistance band workouts showcase the highest percentage of returning users.

How do we expect consumers to behave moving forwards?

Based on initial analysis, I expect to see a continued increase in demand for equipment led workouts. With the threat of future lockdowns still very much a possibility, many consumers may be keen to invest more resource into their at-home fitness provision driving the purchase of basic kit such as resistance bands, dumbbells, kettlebells, suspension trainers and mats. Potentially, this creates opportunities for content providers to bolt on an e-commerce, creating a new revenue stream via the sale of complementary products.

I also expect to see a rise in demand for more holistic classes. Isolation will take its toll on mental as well as physical health and content providers would be wise to ensure they have adequate provision in the holistic and restorative categories. At the end of May, FunXtion launched five and 10-minute meditation sessions. These are steadily growing in popularity, inching towards our top 10 downloads. On this basis, and due to the steady growth in popularity of our Stretch classes, which are now our most downloaded sessions, we are extending our provision in the area of ‘mindfulness’.

What long term impact will COVID-19 have on the way people train?

There is little doubt that even as gyms reopen, there will be a period where physical distancing rules still need to be applied. This is likely to impact both access to training facilities and the way physical training sessions are delivered.

I anticipate that during this phase, consumers will maintain a ‘blended approach’ to training – still relying heavily on streamed content. By the time a vaccine is widely available and physical distancing is no longer necessary, consumers will have grown accustom to being able to access fitness content anytime, anywhere. This will become the new base-line expectation and  emphasis will shift from a need for a basic provision to a desire for a high quality experience.

During lockdown, according to the ukactive Covid-19 Impact Report, 73% of consumers have consumed fitness content via YouTube with only 9% consuming content from their gym or club. Facility operators need to reclaim their position as the go-to providers, creating custom-branded environments that reflect their physical spaces constantly reiterating brand and ethos. This is going to mean significant investment for many.

Technology and digitalisation create an opportunity for operators to deliver a highly personal experience to consumers, anytime, anywhere. Moving forwards, successful fitness brands will be driven by software, supported by physical facilities. Standalone ‘training boxes’ will become a thing of the past.

Key findings from FunXtion data analysis

Top 5 workout downloads 1 April to 21 June 2020

  • Core (7 mins)
  • Bodyweight – abs (7 mins)
  • Bodyweight – full body (7 mins)
  • Full Body Dumbell (30 mins)
  • Booty Workout (7 mins)

Age groups engaging

  • 18-24: 17.4 %
  • 25-34: 30.8 %
  • 35-44: 14.1 %
  • 45-54: 16.2 %
  • 55-64: 11.2 %
  • 65+: 10.3 %

Note: 21.5 % of users are 55+, showing that this age demographic is utilising technology as well as younger populations and are willing to work out from home.

Gender comparison

  • 66.7 % users are female
  • 33.3 % of users are male
  • Females have a higher workout completion rate, 66% of the workouts started are fully completed by females in comparison to a 40% completion rate by male users.

 

Device usage

Over 50 % of people are watching fitness content on non-mobile devices so the quality of the content needs to be high.

Time of day

80% of people are working out in the late afternoon or evening.

Look out for the latest stories and blogs in our Together series on the ukactive News page and Journal. For the latest sector guidance and daily analysis, visit the ukactive COVID-19 hub.

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