5 digital fitness companies that came out ahead in 2020
Countless industries will no doubt be more digitized post-pandemic, but perhaps none more so than fitness. According to CB Insights, 350,000+ instructors and trainers in the US alone were forced to shift to virtual classes; what’s more, a Beachbody report posited that 9 in 10 Americans will likely continue to stream workouts even after gyms reopen.
Seeing the writing on their shiny, mirrored walls, studio owners and fitness entrepreneurs alike are sprinting to launch new online programs or upgrade their existing platform — not as a temporary solution, but as a key element of their long-term business strategy.
Whether you’re in the industry yourself or just want a glimpse into the future of fitness technology, we’ve compiled a list of five startups that moved fast to convert a nation of active athletes into some very active users.
Already a fitness community united by tech, our client ClassPass was originally designed as a single monthly membership that granted users access to a wide range of participating studios and gyms across their metro area. Users would select their location in the app, filter by activities, book a spot, and voila! — simply show up ready to sweat.
But with the spread of Covid-19, the Classpass team needed to take action fast to adapt their brick-and-mortar-dependent model. Our engineers helped them build a brand-new video platform where users can choose livestream classes filtered by activity, duration, and credit value; reserve their spot; and easily invite their friends to join virtually. As a result, members can still work out with top trainers and try different activities — but now from the comfort and convenience of their own home.
Aaptiv, considered to be the number-one audio fitness app by countless trainers and five-star reviewers, offers more than 2,500 workouts from strength training and yoga to running and HIIT sessions. In addition to the audio cues, users can reference visual guides if they’re really struggling to understand a move, and workouts are recommended based on the member's plan, fitness level, time, and preferences. They can even create their own playlist from the app's library of tracks!
An innovator from its inception, Aaptiv has transformed the way people train: every class pairs direction by an expert trainer with motivating music in various genres. With less to distract them, users can focus on their ﬁtness goals — when and where it suits them — establishing this app as a true pandemic-era essential.
Peloton started as a boutique cycling studio where users could either attend classes live or livestream them to their Peloton bike at home; they’ve since branched out to include running as well. During workouts on treads or bikes, users are motivated by real-time metrics on the leaderboard — in fact, the fitness technology is so advanced that when players put on a VR headset, it’s the next best thing to all being in a room together.
The classes seamlessly stream through connected hardware, with a diverse team of instructors leading live classes and thousands more being offered on-demand via phone, tablet, web, or TV. The cherry on top? Members can track their progress over time thanks to in-depth metrics.
On the other side of the cycling spectrum is Zwift, an interactive digital fitness platform that invites users to ride at home while simultaneously competing online with others using only a Playstation and a simulator. Essentially blending the fun of video games with the intensity of serious training, it offers a range of plans, group rides, races, and extraordinary routes: desert, volcano, New York City, etc. Meanwhile, to ensure a good workout, a special trainer attaches to the bike and adds resistance.
More a runner than a cyclist? RunPods attached to a treadmill at home or the gym track speed, distance, and cadence, powering the avatar in Zwift. In either case, once the hardware is in place, all a user has to do is download the app for riding, running, or training and hit the road.
Our fifth and final example of innovation fitness app, Krew’s live-stream fitness workouts, nutrition, and therapy courses ramped in relevance during the pandemic. Krew members join over 100 daily live workouts led by the world's top trainers, measure every second they move, analyze and share results with friends, and receive interactive, focused feedback.
Our team collaborated with them on web application layouts, functionality for secure auto-login, in-session text chat, and other useful features making it easier for the world to stay accountable to their health from home — a win for all involved!
What does the future hold for fitness?
Once the Covid-19 crisis abates, many people will no doubt look forward to resuming their favorite workouts in person. However, the undeniable convenience and relative affordability of live-stream classes would suggest that now is high time to consider custom digital solutions, both as a standalone product as well as a contingency plan to future-proof your physical business. Whatever your goal, following in the footsteps of trailblazers like those above will only serve to secure your spot in the market, now and in years to come.