How the pandemic changed fitness forever | CNBC Reports

Lockdowns around the world mean people are now
working out from the comfort of their own homes instead of spending on in-person fitness
memberships and classes.

The physical activity industry is worth
more than $800 billion worldwide, with gym subscriptions, athletic apparel and
fitness monitors all making up the lucrative sector.

But that was before the pandemic.

And while business as usual has taken a huge hit,
the audience for online fitness has grown.

I’m Joe Wicks, the body coach,
and I’m also the world’s PE teacher because at the moment, I’m doing live workouts
Monday to Friday on my YouTube channel.

And I’ve had 35 million households
all around the world take part.

So how has the pandemic changed the fitness industry?
And will it ever be the same? We used to get almost 500,000
monthly active users on our platform.

We have just seen a 20% hit.

So there are a massive set of users who are still consuming,
who are still working out.

Indian app Fitternity lets people book
in-person studio and gym classes, and has now pivoted to run live online workouts,
recorded video sessions and one-to-one coaching.

Despite hundreds of thousands of fitness enthusiasts
taking advantage of its digital options, Fitternity still expects a 40% dip
in annual net revenue.

So how do you think you’ll transition
back into real life when that happens? We are not going to see January 2020
back again in July or August or September because there are going to be social distancing norms.

We actually believe that only 25-30% of the members will be able to work out
at any given point of time.

We now believe that when a class is taking place
and Lucy is the trainer, Lucy will conduct a class for seven people in front of her
and she will also conduct a class on her laptop, which is for 30 other people
who are going to access it on livestream.

Many instructors who usually teach in person
are now doing so from home.

And while some instructors charge fees
for these online classes, they’re often less than what they’d get
paid in a gym or studio.

Freelance trainers, like Tom Wilson-Leonard,
have had to quickly adapt their teaching styles to better suit a screen.

The teacher really has to keep up
the energy through a live call, and they also have to do
what they are teaching whereas in my usual set-ups, I rarely do any movement.

I’m just teaching and guiding.

Are you able to still charge
for your online classes? Many studios are really adapting to this change
and they’re offering online classes and they’re still paying their teachers to
do these classes.

I’m making all of my classes donation-based.

In Buddhism, we call that dharma.

So it’s a dharma method of payment.

It’s a way of giving what you feel you can give.

Before the coronavirus outbreak,
MoreYoga had 10,000 monthly members and 5,000 pay-as-you-go members,
with about 16,000 people working out per week.

Now, about half of that number
are practicing online each week.

We are looking at lots of live classes, you know,
before we were doing lots of pre-recorded stuff.

Now we’re thinking on our feet,
we’re getting tripods to people to put in their houses.

They’re filming in their bedrooms.

This is almost the ultimate test for an entrepreneur.

You need to be agile, you need to have the versatility
to be able to move into those new markets.

And then from those markets, where’s, you know,
what is the angle you then take from there? How do you differentiate yourself? For coaches who built their businesses online,
however, this is nothing new.

And it’s helped them keep
financially fit during the crisis.

British instructor Joe Wicks spent years
growing his social media presence.

Now he has more than 10 million followers
and regularly gets hundreds of thousands of views for his free workouts on YouTube,
which earn money from advertising.

Since Joe started running daily PE classes
for children who are home-schooling, those figures are now in the millions.

I’m supposed be doing a tour the week
that the schools got shut down here in the U.


So the idea was, can I take that experience online
and do a digital version of it? And I’ve had such an amazing response.

We’ve had 35 million views just on 15 workouts alone.

It has taken me nine years to get 800,000 subscribers.

I’ve now got 2.

2 million, so it’s more than doubled.

So talk to me about what you’re doing
with the proceeds from those videos.

With these views comes a lot of revenue.

We’ve now raised about £100,000.

I’m donating every single penny of that
to the NHS Charities Together.

Joe’s referring to a group of non-profits that donate
money to Britain’s National Health Service.

Brick-and-mortar fitness businesses
like studios and gyms have an uphill battle ahead.

While some are being helped financially by governments,
they still have costs like rent to pay.

Fitness app ClassPass was valued at more
than half a billion dollars last December and takes commission from studio classes
booked through its platform.

But in April, it had to lay off or furlough just over
half of its employees because of the pandemic.

The outbreak of Covid-19 has been nothing short of
devastating for our business, especially outside of Asia.

We’ve created capability in the app for people to donate
to their favorite partner venues or businesses.

And ClassPass is going to match up to
$1,000,000 of contributions to those partners.

What do you think the longer-term
impact might be for ClassPass? We’ll become a more hybrid of an off-line
and digital or virtual solution for our customers This will also accelerate our push into wellness.

The company hopes to come out of the crisis
with more corporate clients.

I’m hopeful that our employer program where we allow
employers like Google, Facebook, Morgan Stanley to subsidize fitness and wellness for their employees.

I’m hoping that more employers adopt that program.

So are there any silver linings in
the home workouts boom? We are seeing a lot more users entering fitness, right,
and having the time to do fitness.

Fitternity always wanted to build virtual fitness,
but it was the plan that we wanted to pursue in 2021.

And I think what happened made us sort of just
build this and launch it faster.

For Joe Wicks, it might get more children exercising.

Come on, keep going.

Hop, hop, hop.

I’d love to really change the culture of fitness
within the education system forever.

I don’t want it to just be a three-month thing, and that’s it
I’d love it to be something that goes on all year round because I think the kids are going to feel better for it,
I think they’re going to be happier.

I wondered if you had any thoughts on the impact of the
pandemic on the fitness industry as a whole, because lots of trainers obviously
train people in person.

So I don’t think you’re got to lose all of them.

I think some of them might stay and work at home and train
because they find it’s easier, but I think the majority of people that love the gym
and that culture that you’ve created will come back.

And I always encourage all the trainers I speak to
and I mentor through social media.

I always say, look, you are loving
being a personal trainer now.

You’ve got the energy.

You’re up at 6:00 a.m.

You’re home at 10 p.m.

But you will burn out eventually.

You need to have another offering.

So definitely think about a digital product,
whether it’s a PDF, a recipe guide, an app.

You can do low maintenance things that can
generate a revenue that can keep you going.

Thanks for watching and let’s hope
the fitness industry can bounce back.

How are you finding online workouts? Let us know in the comments below
and don’t forget to subscribe.

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