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 Xponential Fitness CEO Anthony Geisler about brick-and-mortar’s comeback, developing a 360-degree offering, and delivering more than a workout.
Shuttered during the pandemic, gyms and studios are rebounding. How do they excel going forward?
Anthony Geisler: We always knew that gyms and fitness studios would rebound, which is why, during the pandemic, Xponential developed and executed a strategic plan to ensure brick-and-mortar growth alongside our digital offerings.
In the first quarter of 2022, we opened 99 studios, and studio visits increased by 17% in Q1 2022 vs. Q4 2021.
Humans are social creatures. We crave community and often need the motivation of a live instructor and fellow members to keep us committed to our fitness goals.
To stay competitive going forward, gyms and studios will need to embrace this idea, giving members more than just a workout. They need to create an experience that prioritizes accessibility, community, and belonging.
Not to be overlooked, at-home fitness was seen in a new light during the pandemic. Moving forward, digital fitness will continue to have its place and value, and we anticipate a combination of studio and at-home exercise will remain prevalent.
So, extending the in-person experience to members outside of their four walls will be paramount for gyms and studios.
For instance, our Xponential+ digital offering enables our members to complement their studio sessions with workouts at home across modalities. We also recently partnered with lululemon to provide digital programming for MIRROR workouts, which starts this fall.
There’s a growing belief that omnichannel or hybrid fitness will thrive. What’s your take?
AG: Consumers definitely want to get back into studios for energy, community, and motivation, but they also want flexibility and convenience — and that’s where digital/at-home fitness becomes key.
Providing a full 360-degree offering that enables you to meet your fitness customer where and when they want to work out, whether in person or in the comfort of their homes, is no longer optional.
From VR to web3, immersive exercise is trending. How will it impact fitness?
AG: Immersive virtual reality exercise is an interesting concept, and I can definitely understand how it is attractive to some consumers.
Still, after two years of online workouts, Zoom meetings, etc. due to the pandemic, I truly believe that people want human interaction. While we may see VR workouts gain in popularity over time, I don’t envision immersive exercise like VR overtaking traditional gym and studio workouts.
What trends will shape the future of the fitness industry?
AG: Hybrid fitness—both in-person and digital workouts—will remain a key trend in the fitness industry as people continue to focus on flexibility, convenience, and variety.
With so many fitness apps and programs available at our fingertips, people have had the opportunity to try many different fitness modalities and workout routines over the last few years.
At the same time, we are seeing fitness consumers realizing the benefits of a holistic fitness and wellness routine, or one that includes variety.
On Mondays, they want to cycle; Tuesdays, they want to dance; Wednesdays, they want to box, and so on.
This is why we believe it was so important for us to launch our cross-brand subscription, XPASS, this past year, which gives users access to all of the Xponential Fitness-branded studios in their geographic area.
Wrapping up, anything else we should keep in mind?
AG: Xponential Fitness is proof of the major comeback that gyms and studios are experiencing.
Our Q1 North American systemwide sales grew for the seventh consecutive quarter, up 70% year-over-year. Specifically, we reached a significant milestone in the month of March with monthly run rate AUVs in North America reaching $477,000, rebounding to the peak pre-COVID quarterly run rate AUV.
Our company has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to adapting our offerings to the market’s demand, and even before the onset of the pandemic, we had our digital offering underway. At the same time, we didn’t close a single studio during the pandemic, and our membership levels remained very strong.
We believe that our unique portfolio of 10 fitness modalities will continue to make an impact on the boutique fitness market worldwide.