Social+ Fitness: Community-focused Apps Outpace Competitors

Image: Strava

According to McKinsey research, “The most successful fitness apps offer community.”

The report noted that community-focused fitness apps experience 4x growth over tracking- and training-centric apps.

Community is the rallying cry of boutique studios. And it was the topic of Issue No. 72, where we explored the idea of fitness as religion. In summary, a 2015 Harvard Divinity School study found that millennials were turning to fitness classes for meaning, ritual, and community.

Community is something we choose. With the entire world at our fingertips, place is no longer a limiting factor. As this trend continues, the strength of a brand’s digital community will make or break fitness companies.

Social+ Fitness. Despite all the hype around community, most digital fitness products are solo experiences that fail to capture the essence of exercising in person. Or as D’Arcy Coolican, an investment partner at Andreessen Horowitz, put it:

“Strava, for example, has some magical social elements, but hasn’t completely cracked the code yet. Peloton’s leaderboard is fun, but it’s a toe-in-the-water of what could be a deeper social experience. There’s so much more to build here that could capture the community of fitness enthusiasts. Imagine how engaging the first truly global social+ fitness product will be.” 

For now, fitness is dominated by one-to-one or one-to-many models where the instructor or coach defines the experience.

Going beyond Facebook groups or Strava’s social network for athletes, it’s early days for digital fitness communities.

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