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, Technogym CEO Nerio Alessandri tells us why quality and personalization, not gimmicks or growth at all costs, are essential to success.
Shuttered during the pandemic, gyms/studios are rebounding. How do they succeed going forward?
Nerio Alessandri: During the pandemic, we’ve been convinced (and have stated on several occasions) that the situation we were experiencing was exceptional and temporary, and that—in the long term—there’d be no repercussions on fitness clubs.
Humans are naturally oriented to socializing, and clubs/studios are the ideal places to do so — just as they’re also the place to achieve concrete results through a professional service.
Looking to the future, I think clubs will stay competitive by focusing on the value of service and experience.
The “GROW” strategy (focus on marketing and price strategy to sell memberships, with little focus on service) is not sustainable in the long run. This strategy damages the entire industry, as people—attracted by the price—purchase memberships but, shortly after, leave due to lack of service and quality.
On the other hand, the “VALUE” strategy (personalization of service, overall quality, and design of the facility) guarantees retention and profits in the long term.
Omnichannel or hybrid fitness is gaining traction. How does it play out?
NA: At Technogym, we’ve always talked about the hybrid model.
Exactly 10 years ago, in 2012, we launched our “wellness on the go” strategy to offer people the same personalized wellness experience at any place and at any time — at the gym, at home, in hotels, at the doctor, at work, etc.
Thanks to our connected Technogym Ecosystem of connected equipment, software, digital training content, and apps, this was all possible.
Digital/connected fitness is facing headwinds. How will the category evolve?
NA: Many digital fitness companies exist only because of the pandemic. Many of them wouldn’t have been born if the pandemic hadn’t taken place. And many would have gone bankrupt a long time ago without it.
The pandemic served as a sort of doping that allowed many companies to easily raise funds. Now, we are facing a rebalancing of the situation, as well as a return to normality: People won’t stay home forever as they did during the lockdown.
Consequently, business models which are able to intercept people in the various places and moments of their life—both at the gym and at home—will win.
From VR to web3, immersive exercise is trending. How will it impact fitness?
NA: The metaverse is not wellness; it’s more of a game and a distraction that will make people’s quality of life worse, taking them away from reality.
Virtual reality or immersive content will certainly enrich or integrate the fitness experience, but generally, I think we’re more likely to experience a big “back to basics” shift — a return to movement, to sport, and to [in-person] socializing.
What trends will shape the future of fitness?
NA: Quality and personalization.
And that’s precisely Technogym’s goal. Through our Connected Technogym Ecosystem, we connect 55M people worldwide to their personalized training program—for sport, fitness, or health—wherever they are.