Health, Fitness, and Retail

by | 16 February 2022

The at-home fitness market has been on fire, with fitness enthusiasts cobbling together at-home gyms, subscribing to online video programs and downloading fitness apps over 400 million times in 2021. As fitness pivoted across platforms, including video, touchscreens and high-tech wearables, there was something for everyone to engage.

Consumers motivated to get up and move tried everything they could in a battle against the inertia of quarantine lockdown. We traded in-person workouts for virtual training sessions and group classes for live streams. We built at-home gyms and paired up with online accountability partners. Monthly subscription packages spiked in popularity as consumers yearned for an exercise infrastructure and access to top-notch trainers.

Connected fitness systems pioneered by Tonal, Lululemon’s Mirror and Peloton fit for a minute. Still, as vaccinated folks venture outside, these brands have begun to fall out of favor. Zuckerberg’s recent investment – Meta’s acquisition of virtual reality(VR)-based fitness app Supernatural – is likely to inspire movement in fitness tech and the expansion of digital health platforms. And then of course, are the most recent discussions about the metaverse, suggesting that the evolution of connected fitness will explore how to blend real life with VR. Amazon Halo’s offering has already begun to gain traction, as has Apple Fitness+ subscription service amid rumors of a potential Peloton takeover.

Ready Player Two and Three

Analysts anticipate heavy investment in tech and digital solutions by 80% of healthcare providers over the next five years. While big tech dukes it out, healthcare providers of all sorts are considering their options. Case in point, LG launched a smart TV equipped with access to a telehealth platform. The platform allows users to set up and conduct telehealth appointments with provider Independa using their TV.

Back to Basics

Walking, one of the most underrated exercises has made great strides as one of the social distancing activities available to everyone. Its popularity has driven double-digit growth in hiking footwear sales. And I’m one who knows, at 15,000 steps 4 days a week, I’ve gone through 3 pairs of sneakers and am enjoying my current pair – OOFOS. Walking may very well be influencing increased foot traffic to local shopping corridors. Analysts report that nearly 8.1 million visits were made by consumers to America’s top 20 open-air malls last summer. So there is a resounding vote of confidence that physical retail — hello, brick-and-mortar! — is officially back, with open-air spaces playing a starring role in the recovery. Apple is ahead of the game in cornering the walking sector with its Time to Walk workouts release. Featured exclusively for its Fitness+ subscribers, where celebrities like Dolly Parton, Shawn Mendes and Uzo Aduba share anecdotes that have shaped their life in a walking meditation of sorts.

Despite the rollercoaster effect of recent variants, landlords are hopeful that the fitness retail leases will continue to trend upward. According to CoStar data, fitness-related leasing increased by nearly 30% in Q3 2021 compared to the previous year. And as consumers return to their exercise routines, apps like ClassPass and GymPass, which cater to individuals and corporate partners, respectively, are gaining new users.

Sometimes, the tiny and mighty efforts we make to our fitness regime make all the difference, like taking the initiative with personal health maintenance — a new trend among consumers: DIY self-care preventative measures. For example, consumers aggregate personal health data from their smartwatches and fitness trackers to facilitate at-home tests for food sensitivities and allergies in preparation for doctor visits. Although some doctors are on board, they advise patients to do so in moderation and call for an appointment before resorting to WebMD for diagnosis.

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