How Technology Is Revolutionizing the In-Gym Experience

Adam Koch

December 3, 2023

Technology is playing a critical role in improving the in-gym experience.

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Great news: In-gym training has seen positive growth in 2023 and shows no signs of slowing down in 2024 and beyond, according to multiple sources, including the IHRSA 2023 Global Fitness Industry Report.

Consumers clearly see the value in returning to the gym, from having a bigger variety of workouts to choose from to receiving higher quality guidance from trainers and increased motivation from working out with others. At the same time, consumers have more fitness choices, whether it’s competing boutique gyms or high-quality at-home workouts from well-known companies like Peloton, Apple and even Netflix.

The implication for fitness businesses is that it’s more challenging than ever to acquire and retain customers. On top of this, there are increasing operational headwinds such as finding and retaining reliable staff and rising rents and equipment costs. There bottom line is that there is growing business opportunity, but it has become increasingly complex to stay competitive and differentiate your gym.

With experience working in technology at Google for over 15 years, I have seen firsthand how technology disrupts industries. It has transformed every aspect of our lives, and it is no different for the in-gym experience. Gen Z (teens and early 20s) and millennials (20s to 40s) are distinct generations because they are digital natives - they grew up with technology from birth. In the U.S., Gen Z and millennials make up approximately 42% of the population, making them extremely important groups to cater to.

From a technology standpoint, the in-gym experience of today is not that different to the in-gym experience from 10 years ago. Compare that with at-home experiences, which have made leaps and bounds (Peloton, Apple, YouTube). I strongly believe that fitness businesses that can embrace technology by developing next-generation in-gym experiences will be poised to win in the coming years.

To stay ahead of these trends, here are four ways gyms are leveraging technology:

1. Addressing customer desire for workout variety

We’re seeing businesses deliver a larger range of group fitness offerings under the same roof. For example, an increase in a hybrid blended approach for workouts such as HIIT, HIRT, LIIT, S&C, boxing, pilates, yoga, wellness and recovery offerings. In addition, gyms are incorporating mental health offerings, such as moments to pause to breathe/meditate/stretch and social connectivity to provide a more balanced approach for its members. By leveraging technology, fitness businesses can expand the number of offerings to maximize variety for members without expanding their cost base.

2. Accommodating member need for workout flexibility

In addition to offering a greater choice of fitness offerings, gyms are providing more flexible timings or even mixed modalities within the same workout. With hybrid/work-from-home becoming the norm, gyms can provide customers more flexibility in the times they can train via a mix of instructor-led or self-guided workouts during off-peak hours. Another way gyms are offering flexibility is by combining pilates, strength and cycling into a single workout. For businesses, providing flexibility can increase costs; for example, delivering workouts outside of peak times. Digital platforms are enabling businesses to cost-effectively provide customers with more flexibility.

3. Reducing operational costs while not sacrificing experience

As a business owner, finding, upskilling and retaining high-quality teams is a challenge. We consistently hear this from our customers all over the world. Hiring, training, and retaining staff can be one of the largest operational costs for fitness businesses. Other industries have leveraged technology to automate mundane, repetitive tasks so teams can focus on high value tasks; gyms that are also doing this are able to better retain their staff. For example, a technology platform can run your workouts leveraging display systems, which allows trainers to be more hands-on. This ensures your customers have the best possible experience.

4. Maintaining a high-quality, consistent experience

Customers are expecting more, so providing a high-quality consistent experience is more important than ever. As the owner, you want to know that customers will get a consistent workout experience regardless of the trainer on duty. Once processes are refined at a single location, the next step is to think about expansion to multiple sites. How do you maintain that consistency regardless of the trainer on duty or which location the customer visits? Technology can help systemize and automate processes such as workout creation, workout delivery, and scheduling, enabling businesses to deliver consistent, high-quality workouts at lower cost.

Consumers are flocking back to the in-gym experience, providing significant opportunities for growth for business owners. However, they are also more demanding than ever, and gyms must be ready to cater to their expectations. Technology is the key enabler which will provide a superior experience for customers and help fitness businesses to grow and scale in 2024 and beyond.

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