The Digital Fitness Megatrend is Here to Stay

The Digital Fitness Megatrend is Here to Stay

Written by: Stephanie Bariatti, SMB Media Marketing Consultant 


           It’s that time of year when people are losing their grip on their New Year’s resolutions, but also realizing in horror that swimsuit season is just a few short months away.  The perfect time to say, yet again, “Diet starts on Monday.”  


            Or maybe that’s just me.


            The rest of the world seems to be on the fitness bandwagon, which is a huge trend right now, thanks in part to the ease and convenience of digital fitness tools and technology.  And of course, the extenuating circumstances of the pandemic have added a little more fuel to this fire.  Hey, at least that’s one good thing to come out of all this.    


            Now, make no mistake – the digital fitness trend was already taking off like a rocket before COVID hit.  But, because of the pandemic we may now be seeing a larger ripple effect and convergence of different categories.  


            Let me take you on a little journey. 


            This may or may not be autobiographical…


            We are deep into quarantine.  We’re not leaving the house.  It feels like all we’ve been doing is eating.  When we’re not cooking, we’re ordering.  Food delivery apps, like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats are making out like bandits.  In fact, sales on these type of apps more than doubled over the past year, from $20.08 billion in 2019 to $44.94 billion in 2020, according to the latest estimates from eMarketer.  I mean, they just make it too dang easy to pick up your phone and order a meal.  So the pants start to get a little tighter and the number on the scale keeps going up and up.      


            It’s time to make some changes.  The gyms are closed, so maybe I need to invest in some home workout equipment.  A Peloton bike would be nice, but they are a little pricey.  However, Peloton is expanding its reach.  You can get a membership for their streaming service and join classes, even if you don’t have any of their equipment.  Peloton reported its first quarter with sales of more than $1 billion and per share earnings that were double analysts' forecasts.  The company is so hot right now that they can’t even keep up with demand, citing delivery times of 8-10 weeks on their website.  


            Or maybe one of those mirror thingies. Have you seen these?  The Mirror bills itself as a “nearly invisible home gym.”  And that’s because it basically is.  All you really need is a bit of free wall space and some room to do the workouts you choose.  Classes include everything from Kickboxing to Yoga to Latin Dancing.  You get to watch yourself as you follow along with an instructor.     


            And the options don’t end here.  Peloton and The Mirror are both part of this popular trend of instructor-led, at-home workout stations that you’ve probably seen popping up all over.  There’s Tonal for weightlifters, Liteboxer for those who prefer punching as a form of exercise and many others.  All promise gym-quality workouts from the comfort of your home without needing a physical gym. 


            Next, I better get a Fitbit to help me track all of the progress I’m going to make with these amazing products.  You really want to talk options?  Check out the smart watch category.  It is completely saturated, ranging from low budget, no-name brands to the top-of-the line, latest version of the Apple Watch.  Even The Mirror attempts to edge out some of these smart watches by offering its own digital heart rate monitor to sync with your workouts.         


            Now while we’re at it, I could use some new workout clothes.  We all know the choices are endless here – adidas, Nike, Under Armour - but Lululemon is one of the most coveted.  And guess who they own?  The Mirror.  I see what they did there.


            But really, the “athleisure” market is booming with fitness nuts and couch potatoes alike.  And though it’s not necessarily a part of “digital” fitness, it is benefitting as a direct result of the digital fitness movement, especially for those who are working from home.  People just want to be comfortable when they are spending so much time living out their lives at home.  


            Brands are smart enough to recognize this.  There is an intentional focus on creating pieces that are not only comfy and cozy, but polished enough to appear in a Zoom meeting for work.  So it’s even more of an incentive to think, “Why not just make this my whole wardrobe?”


            To prove that it’s not just the more exclusive brands cashing in, Target says they have seen massive success with their year-old, in-house athleticwear brand, All in Motion.  The affordably priced apparel hit $1 billion in sales, a result of shoppers' pandemic-induced move to stretchy, comfortable clothes. 


            In addition, activewear brands are also spiking on social media.  According to data from Tracker, the number of influencers mentioning activewear brands rose 101% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period the year prior.  Posts about athletic attire were up 63% in the same period.  But this type of social media performance is not just unique to apparel.  Every aspect of the fitness movement is present in social media, with influencers having a lot of pull in their endorsements. 


            For the final step, let’s also subscribe to a healthy home delivery meal kit to help improve my diet.  Green Chef, Blue Apron, Purple Carrot are just a few of the companies out there promising wholesome, nutritious and convenient meals.  Some are already premade, just waiting to be warmed up and some provide you with the separated ingredients and recipe for you to follow and cook yourself.  


            They all have their own spin; some focus on vegan offerings, some claim to be easier for calorie-counting, etc.  There is even one brand, Tovala, that uses a smart oven that is calibrated to perfectly cook the meal you choose.  Yet, the market as a whole is poised for huge growth over the next few years.  The global meal kit delivery services market is expected to grow by $15.93 billion from 2020-2024. 


            So you see, the arms of digital fitness are far-reaching, but they often tend to run into one another.  There are emerging products and technologies that we haven’t even touched upon.  But, we do expect to see a lot of partnerships and convergence among these digital fitness companies in the future.  As Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst from eMarketer said, “The combination of increasingly sophisticated wearables, personalized health tracking, and integrated digital media experiences—all led by the most aspirational consumer brands—already pointed toward a reimagined consumer fitness landscape.  The pandemic simply accelerated these trends as consumers adapted to fitness experiences without gyms as the focal point.” 


            Stay tuned to our blog in the coming weeks as we discuss another emerging trend closely tied to digital fitness – Telemedicine.  




Stephanie Bariatti works as a Consultant and Project Manager for SMB Media Consulting.  She has had extensive experience with many facets of advertising and media, having worked for and with creative agencies, production companies and research departments.  She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, three lovable little boys and a snuggly Golden Retriever.