Executive Q&A: Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler

After two years of on-again, off-again gym closures and a workout-from-home boom, we asked industry executives for their thoughts on the future of fitness.

In this Q&A, Beachbody CEO Carl Daikeler explains how motivation, technology, and convenience combine to help fitness seekers achieve their goals.

Digital/connected fitness is facing headwinds. How will the category evolve?

Carl Daikeler: Over the past 20 years, I’ve seen different demand environments affect the fitness and nutrition industry. But the one constant is that “healthy” doesn’t go out of style.

Yes, people gained weight during the pandemic, are sleeping less than they’d like, and stress levels have increased. They want to get healthy, feel better, and lose weight, but since the summer of 2021, they’ve had other things on their mind and perhaps haven’t felt empowered to succeed.

However, I’ve experienced firsthand how quickly demand recovers if you have content that fits the environment and people’s current mindset.

It’s not the connected device — it’s engagement with the device that drives demand. And, in my experience, that comes from content and being part of a community. That drives growth.

Omnichannel or hybrid fitness is gaining traction. How does it play out?

CD: Convenience matters — especially in fitness. People love to socialize, and there’s no doubt the gym business will always thrive. But there’s no better way to achieve true scale and broad reach than putting a world-class gym right in a person’s home with world-class content that both helps them exercise regularly and eat right.

The pandemic proved to millions of people that working out at home is effective, efficient, and economical. This has been the premise of our company since we started it 20 years ago, and the pandemic really accelerated adoption.

Surveys have shown that even as some people are returning to the gym, they are planning to continue with at-home workouts because they’ve realized how convenient and effective they are.

I suspect that the bigger market opportunity comes from people like me – they will continue to work out exclusively at home because they realize they can get results without going to a gym, probably spending less time and money.

Digital/connected fitness is facing headwinds. How will the category evolve?

CD: While technology can attract waves of new people to start exercising, ultimately, it’s the execution and results that will keep them engaged.

It’s easy to be a shiny new object. It’s not easy to maintain momentum when that innovation becomes the new “normal.” We see technology as a tool that can enhance the workout experience and create greater human connection, and that human connection creates accountability which gets results.

Last year, we launched Beachbody On Demand Interactive—or BODi, as we like to call it—our live, interactive premium tier and incorporated heart rate-calibrated training on our connected bike touchscreen.

It’s a very personalized experience when you know the bike knows you. But then it comes down to how good the rides are and how connected you feel to the community. Fitness requires work. Work requires some form of gratification and motivation. That’s what we’ve been refining for two decades.

What trends will shape the future of fitness?

CD: The key to having a profound impact on the future of fitness is building trust and delivering on promises.

I honestly think that has made it more difficult for Beachbody at times — and also what has made us so resilient.

We’ve never pulled any punches. Health and fitness requires some self-discipline, effort, and consistency. There is no magic pill or technology. What you eat and the intensity of your workouts are what determine the results.

That can be complemented by technology, but ultimately, it’s still human behavior. Some people don’t want to hear that. They’re waiting for the next new thing which might help them escape this truth.

But when you tell it like it is, and demonstrate that people can do hard things, it’s liberating. That’s the company people want to be a part of. And I think that’s why Beachbody has lasted this long.

Wrapping up: Anything else we should keep in mind?

CD: The success of the health and fitness industry is ultimately measured by the results people get.

Sometimes an industry can chase so much innovation that the real solution is overlooked. What people need are the information and tools to make the few simple lifestyle changes that will improve everything. That’s our focus.

Technology breakthroughs will play a role in that. But at the core of it all, helping people achieve their own breakthroughs by overcoming life’s obstacles is where success lives.