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, we spoke with Barry’s CEO Joey Gonzalez about the return of IRL exercise, catering to Gen Z consumers, and prioritizing mental wellness.
Shuttered during the pandemic, gyms and studios are rebounding. How do they excel going forward?
Leading by example, at Barry’s, we’ve always tried to identify our core competencies and focus on them as we grow. Equally as important is listening to our clients’ needs and continuing to innovate in order to meet them.
As a result, we’ve launched a loyalty program called The Academy, which rewards our clients for their loyalty to Barry’s through points and perks. We’ve invested in a digital app called Barry’s X, which allows clients to stay engaged with the brand even when they can’t get to the studio.
And we’ve prioritized fostering this incredible global community through in-person and digital experiences that bring like-minded people together to celebrate life and have fun!
There’s a growing belief that omnichannel or hybrid fitness will thrive. What’s your take?
While we’re seeing a sharp rebound in studio attendance, we also realize that the pandemic has resulted in permanent changes in the behaviors and schedules of our clients — including preferences for how and where they choose to workout.
In response, we expanded our omnichannel presence because we believe it will be a major driver of growth in the years to come. Barry’s X is our inaugural omnichannel fitness platform, and it’s been a big win for both employees and clients to stay connected.
That said, I don’t believe it’s incumbent on all IRL fitness brands to launch in the digital space. I believe many consumers will search for the best experiences in each category.
What key trends will shape the future of fitness?
The key trends that we believe will shape the future of the industry are:
Expanding omnichannel and virtual experiences. The expansion of digital will be a key future driver of growth in the fitness industry. As mentioned above, Barry’s is leveraging technology to find new and innovative ways to reach and interact with potential consumers — whether that be through entering the metaverse, expanding our digital offerings on Barry’s X, etc.
Catering to the needs of the Gen Z client. Gen Z is the client of the future, and paying attention to their needs (which are significantly different from preceding generations) will be important to growing the industry.
Mental health. We’ve begun to find ways to integrate messaging around the importance of mental health both in our digital channels and in the studios.
Raising consumer awareness around health and fitness. One result of the pandemic is consumers are realizing the importance of health and fitness and are choosing to prioritize it in their lifestyle. We’ve seen an increase in new clients across our portfolio and have worked to establish partnerships with brands that will help our clients maintain optimal physical and mental wellness.
Wrapping up, anything else we should keep in mind?
Barry’s has emerged from the pandemic stronger than ever, and we continue to grow our global footprint across the US (we are opening studios in Portland and Tampa later this year) as well as additional international markets coming down the pipeline (Ibiza and Madrid).
We will continue to roll out new offerings such as Barry’s RIDE. We are excited about the future and look forward to continuing to expand our global community as we strive to transform lives worldwide.