Many of us were compelled to reevaluate our workout routines and locations in the wake of the global events of 2020 that resulted in periods of lengthy isolation, resulting in the growth of what is now known as the connected fitness business, a sector worth just over USD 1 billion.
So, what exactly does the term “connected fitness” mean? How does this affect the average consumer?
The term “Connected Fitness” describes using technological tools in physical conditioning, health maintenance, and competitive sports.
It’s a method to get a workout similar to what you’d get at a gym, but without leaving your house, thanks to living or on-demand online courses or experiences, often guided by a virtual coach or trainer.
In recent years, linked fitness has been associated with high-end firms like Peloton and iFit; it may also refer to something as easy as utilizing a workout app on your smartphone or wearable device.
This article will discuss the nature of connected fitness, its meteoric rise in popularity, and the major brands and equipment in this space that you should consider incorporating into your workout routine.
All right, let’s start from the beginning.
Where did the concept of connected fitness originate from?
Even if 2020 was a watershed year for linked fitness, its meteoric ascent to fame and general acceptance had already begun.
Finding time to work out may be difficult in today’s fast-paced society when both partners are expected to juggle demanding careers, busy personal lives, and the needs of their children.
Many people have abandoned their gym memberships in favour of at-home workouts because they are too time-consuming, inconvenient, scary, and costly.
In addition, many of us now rely more on online communities than conventional social circles because of the proliferation of smartphones and other technologies.
As a result of these variables coming together, more and more of us are working out online, aided by devices such as smartphones, watches, on-demand platforms, and interactive exercise equipment.
The result has been a meteoric rise in the linked fitness business, currently worth over $1 billion in the United States alone.
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What does Connected Fitness mean?
The term “Connected Fitness” describes using technological tools in physical conditioning, health maintenance, and competitive sports.
It’s a technique to get a workout without leaving the house by using the internet and a virtual coach or trainer to attend live or on-demand online lessons.
When most people think of “connected fitness,” brands like Peloton and Mirror likely come to mind.
However, if we combine our phones, TVs, and smartwatches with a fitness app or platform, we may consider these devices to be “connected fitness” as well.
Connected fitness activities need the following three things to be in place:
- The apparatus (The physical screen and equipment)
- Computer programing (the on-screen content)
- Information (the classes & experiences)
Hardware (e.g. the screen)
For the sake of this article, “hardware” will refer to the actual gadgets and tools you, the user, will be using.
Some examples of such devices are the smartphone and watch, the bicycle, the treadmill, the elliptical trainer, and, more recently, the mirror.
Maybe you have a fond memory of your parents buying an exercise bike and promising you that this time they would use it to get in shape, only to find it gathering dust in the garage years later.
The intelligence of today’s electronics distinguishes them from the outdated models we’re all too acquainted with.
Software, such as the display on the screen
Fitness equipment and gadgets generally include a TV screen and user interface powered by software.
This generates the experience, enabling us to connect with the device and broadcast exercises via it. We can’t interact with the technology unless it’s accompanied by top-notch software.
Content (e.g. the class)
The success or failure of the procedure depends on the information included in related fitness. The human factor is crucial.
If we can’t interact with the instructors or coaches we’re working out with; we’re not going to want to come back day after day. This is the same as going to a physical gym: if we don’t like it, we won’t keep attending.
The video production value, the level of difficulty of the exercises, and the inspirational words said in the last 30 seconds of a particularly challenging workout are all calibrated.
Connected Fitness Products
To better comprehend the scope of linked fitness, I classify its many aspects into the following three groups:
- It relies on physical apparatus
- Relying on the timepiece
- It is phone-based
It is important to remember that there is considerable overlap between these several classes.
For instance, you may use Peloton with no apparatus by connecting it to your phone.
Strava is a fitness tracking app that can be used both on your phone and watch to provide real-time data and feedback.
But here are the three broad classifications:
Based on the Equipment
Most popular linked fitness companies need you to do workouts using hardware that communicates with a computer.
You can monitor your exercise metrics, including your power output, cadence, rotations per minute (RPM), and more.
They provide the option of participating in live courses, which offer a social element to the learning process or working through sessions at your own pace and at any time.
Some instances are as follows:
- Fight camp
Using a TV or smartphone
Live and social components are also present on these platforms, just like on an equipment-based platform, but you won’t have to be physically attached to anything.
Instead, you’ll mimic the moves using just your body weight or some simple tools like dumbbells, kettlebells, a mat, etc.
Just a few examples would be:
- Exercise videos by Les Mills available on demand
- come back
- Body Mind Online
Connected fitness trackers on the wrist provide real-time metrics like heart rate during an exercise.
While networks built on watches are often less social than others, it’s not uncommon to find communities that can be accessed via a user’s mobile device.
Here are a few illustrations:
- Apple Watch
Various Smart and Connected Exercise Machines
Connected workout equipment comes in different shapes, sizes and styles.
Most often seen examples include:
- Weightlifting equipment
- Punching pads
The following are some things to think about as you attempt to figure out which format is best for you:
- What kind of physical activity have you tried before?
- “What are your fitness objectives?”
- To what extent does your house accommodate your needs?
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Connected Fitness Pros
Connected fitness might be a great alternative if you enjoy exercising at home but miss the social and stimulating ambiance of in-person sessions but don’t have the time or energy to go to the gym.
Could be Less Expensive Than Joining Some Gyms
There may indeed be some expenses related to connected fitness, but they’re often far less than the cost of a subscription to a pricier boutique gym (which may cost upwards of $250 per month).
A Place With Less Threatening Ambience
When first starting, the gym may be a terrifying environment. Engaging in linked fitness reduces the intimidation factor of starting an exercise routine, allowing you to get the social advantages of the gym without sacrificing the fun of becoming in shape.
Connected Fitness Cons
Unfortunately, Virtual Education Cannot Substitute for Face-to-Face Instruction.
Connected fitness may combine human and technological aspects but cannot replace direct, one-on-one feedback and guidance from a trained professional.
Can Be Quite Pricey Initially
Connected exercise equipment or gadgets might be rather expensive, but the continuing expenditures may be lower than a subscription to a high-end training center.
Advantages of a Fitness Connection Membership
Members at Fitness Connection have access to several amenities, including a basketball court, racquetball courts, tanning beds, and a “fit flix” theatre where they can watch movies on theatre screens while working out.
In addition to the group x room, the sauna, the pool, and the spa, the facility also has a group cycle room and a steam room.
Members may use various programs and services outside of the gym itself, and many do so as a means of winding down after strenuous exercise.
Children between the ages of 3 and 11 are welcome to use the kids club for up to 2 hours while their parents use the gym.
Is There a Cancellation Fee for Fitness Connection?
Fitness Connection memberships may be canceled without penalty at any time.
If you cannot come to the physical location, please call the member support department using the number provided on their website.
If you’d rather cancel in person or over the phone, you may do so by contacting Fitness Connection.
Most gyms have a no proration policy, so if you want to avoid paying for an additional 30 days if you cancel, you’ll need to do so before starting a new billing cycle.
Do you offer a free trial for Fitness Connection?
You have every right to be wary of making a long-term commitment to a gym before you fully evaluate its culture, facilities, and other aspects.
So, to see whether Fitness Connection is suitable, they provide a free 5-day ticket to let you use all the facilities.
No commitments are associated with this pass so that you won’t be inadvertently bound to a membership.
It’s essential to give a gym a try and gauge how it makes you feel on an individual level.
All that matters, in the end, is that you succeed.
How connected fitness became everyone’s focus
Over four years, Courtney Dombroski has jeopardized her freedom to satisfy her drug habit.
She broke the law by breaking into a Peloton-equipped apartment gym, the startup that pioneered on-demand, linked workout courses for millions of people.
Near his building, Dombroski worked as a waitress at a Mexican restaurant.
The 26-year-old from Gulf Shores, Alabama, adds, “When the leasing office was open, I could simply go in the front door and ride the elevator up as I lived there.”
So long as I kept my cool and didn’t freak out or anything like that. Soon enough, she stole a key card that granted her 24-hour access and attended unauthorized courses five times a week.
“It’s not only a training machine, but it’s also a community,” explains Dombroski. I don’t think I have it in me to give myself the intense workout that a 20-minute session requires.
“You don’t have to worry about anything because either the coach motivates you or the music takes over and you forget about the world around you.”
Her boyfriend gave her a Peloton for Christmas, turning Dombroski become the living embodiment of the company’s ridiculed 2019 holiday TV commercial.
Skeptics said the commercial was sexist since it seemed the guy was pressuring his female companion to maintain her thin appearance.
When Dombroski saw what she had received, she had a different reaction: Best. Boyfriend. Ever. Dombroski’s approach to working out may be unconventional, but her enthusiasm for linked fitness is shared by many.
While Peloton stock has tanked in the last six months, research shows that the virtual fitness industry is poised to explode, growing from $6 billion in 2019 to $60 billion by 2027.
The number of people that use Peloton increased from 1,000,000 in 2017 to 2,500,000 in 2018. iFit, the parent company of NordicTrack, an exercise equipment manufacturer, witnessed a surge in memberships from 103,000 in 2017 to 1.1 million in 2018.
Three-quarters of those polled in The New Consumer’s lifestyle study reported increasing their at-home workouts due to the epidemic.
Sixty-five percent of individuals who have made the change are satisfied with their decision. Moreover, the majority of millennials and members of Generation Z feel “most like themselves” online as opposed to in person, which is a fundamental reason why a dozen or so linked fitness platforms have been able to create enthusiastic communities without members ever having to sweat side by side.
Yet, the development of linked fitness has been debated, with many people seeing Peloton as an elite company. The luxurious mansions shown in its advertisements were almost designed for viral parody.
Its flagship bike’s $2,500 price tag is also often criticized as excessive, and some have even said that there is something intrinsically unjust, if not evil, about a firm selling an expensive piece of technology that is essentially worthless without a monthly membership fee.
This is missing the point for those who like similar apps to Peloton. Connected fitness is a means to get into fitness or even develop a community without feeling embarrassed or exposed at the gym; it is also a treatment for mental burnout; it saves time; it is gamified and encourages good behaviors.
For cynics, “the price of everything is zero, and the worth of nothing is known,” as Oscar Wilde put it. As of this writing (November 2019), I am not the owner of a Peloton, but I did purchase a Hydrow.
This rowing machine allows its customers to interact with teachers recorded daily on the River Thames, Lake Lucerne, and the California coast.
All my strokes are uploaded in real-time and shown on a 22-inch screen, where I compete against thousands of other golfers.
The convenience of having a machine in one’s own house removes practically all of the barriers to beginning a fitness routine. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it to the fitness center.
there is no set time to begin. There will be no machine wait time. And my two girls, who are always trying to climb up on my lap or join me in my push-ups, are never far away.
Author: Cayce Clifford Many interactive exercises employ AI to provide constructive criticism on your form and form-related techniques so that you may work out safely and effectively without risk of injury.
There is no denying the low price of these computers. Premium models from companies like Peloton, Hydrow, Tonal, and Tempo may set you back between $2,295 and $2,995, plus another $40 per month for access to tens of thousands of lessons.
Pricing is a common topic of concern in the comments sections of YouTube reviews. You could just as easily purchase a regular bike, rowing machine, or weight set and do all those things for free.
This argument holds water if it comes from someone who exercises for the prescribed 30 minutes weekly. My dad, over 70, still rides his bike to work out every day. He doesn’t care about fitness technology and is perplexed by my enthusiasm for inspirational tools.
In his case, there is no genuine need to “upgrade” to something better. However, this is a tiny community. The Mayo Clinic, an esteemed patient-centric medical facility, was curious a few years ago about the prevalence of adults who adhere to the criteria for a “healthy lifestyle,” which include eating well, exercising regularly, not smoking, and maintaining a body mass index that is below the “overweight” range.
Researchers found a “mind-boggling” 2.7%, according to their leader. Half of the adults and almost three-quarters of teenagers don’t get the recommended 150 minutes of weekly physical exercise, according to a poll of millions of Americans in 2018.
Seventy percent of working people said they “never” get around to working out for fun. Lack of motivation is one of the main issues.
Despite the benefits of fitness, Harvard evolutionary scientist Daniel Lieberman argues in his book Exercised that people have a natural tendency to minimize their energy expenditures.
He adds that our “minds never developed to get us moving unless it is essential, joyful or otherwise rewarding,” calling the assumption that exercise is natural “pernicious.” Why does linked fitness matter?
Because it is the closest thing to solving the mystery of how to get more people to exercise. Since Jane Fonda’s VHS workouts popularized at-home exercise, the effectiveness of these programs has been directly correlated to the level of incentive they provide their participants.
However, there was a severe lack of variety in material, no means of providing or receiving comments, no tracking of analytics, and essentially no social component.
Peloton’s providing an infinite library of lessons, where users’ every pedal stroke would upload in real-time for others to view, was revolutionary since it encouraged members to communicate with one another and “find their tribe” via social media.
When asked about the similarities between religion and instructor-led workout programs, Peloton co-founder John Foley said, “The similarities are uncanny.”
To further prove his point, he has linked the expansion of boutique fitness centers with the collapse of institutionalized faith.
A crucifix or Star of David necklace was commonplace in the 1970s and 1980s, he recalled in 2017. You can officially call yourself a SoulCycle member now that you have one of their tank tops.
In a sense, it defines who you are. You live in that neighborhood. This is your faith.
Author: Cayce Clifford David Miller, a professor at George Mason University, says that the myriad of online groups that can be found on Facebook is a mystery to outsiders, including Peloton, which had nothing to do with their creation.
He explains that the corporation didn’t set out to build this community, but rather it “developed.” Popular Peloton Facebook groups include those on healthy eating, losing weight, and raising children.
There are 30,000 “Average Peloton Moms” who “believe in science” and don’t feel bad about letting their child use an iPad while they get in a workout.
Since then, Peloton has extended its sense of community to the bikes themselves, enabling riders to use hashtags like #BlackGirlMagic in their profiles to help them connect with others who share their interests and preferred methods of working out.
It avoids taking a political stance while advocating for topics like LGBTQ+ pride.
While participants cycle, instructors at individual sessions deliver lectures on the development of the civil rights movement. Not everyone can handle the constant upbeat attitude.
Las Vegas media relations professional Ed Zitron enjoyed Peloton’s game-like approach to exercise.
Still, after three years, he eventually canceled his subscription in favor of a Hydrow and a Tonal, a $2,995 smart home gym with a big iPad-like display.
Approximately half of all new members at conventional gyms will leave within the first six months. Almost half of long-term residents only visit fewer than twice weekly.
Compared to Peloton, where people use their bikes an average of 20 times per month, Hydrow members use theirs once every other day.
In terms of client retention, Peloton outperforms both Netflix and Disney Plus and major cell carriers like Verizon.
Its monthly attrition rate is negligible at less than 1%. One of the new believers is Miller. Not having a Peloton was a deal breaker for me.
The wife purchased it. “I didn’t want anything to do with it,” he adds. After just a few months, though, he was addicted.
The author, who calls himself a “Peloton junkie,” has published a book called Sweating Together to try to understand the brand’s success in fusing music, video, and community with physical exercise.
There is “no doubt,” he argues, that at-home workouts are here to stay.
A survey conducted by The New Consumer found that just 5% of respondents planned to work out solely at a gym or studio within the next 12 months, while 41% planned to work out only at home and 87% claimed home workouts would make for more than half of their program.
“The best example is you may still want to go to the theater sometimes, but you’re not canceling Netflix,” says Khalil Zahar, CEO of FightCamp.
This interactive, at-home boxing service monitors users’ every strike in real-time. Lisa Richardson, a graduate student in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania in the year 2020, was so fascinated by the devotion of Peloton’s fans that she wrote her thesis on the topic.
She concluded that most cyclists purchased their bikes for practical reasons but that their “continued commitment” was driven by loftier health and happiness goals.
Author: Cayce Clifford She tells me, “What keeps individuals involved is experiencing pleasant feelings, connecting with a group, feeling like you belong, and having a sense of pride or success.”
They had a similar experience to Laurel and David Belfiore when living in Austin, Texas. As proprietors of a health spa, they do not see any need to sign up at another fitness center.
To simulate going to a high-end fitness center, they purchased a Peloton towards the end of 2018. Something that the gym can’t provide, being positive role models for their elementary-aged kids, has kept them committed for the last three years.
Laurel Belfiore adds, “I want children to realize it’s wonderful to stay active.” To paraphrase the author, “It makes your brain and body happy, and you sleep better.”
She and her husband had just gotten a Hydrow before the March 2020 pandemic arrived, so they were well prepared.
She adds, “I’m rowing 25 times a month and I average 27 courses a month on the Peloton,” emphasizing that if she were to pay the usual $30 per hour for a boutique fitness class, it would be not only costly but also completely impractical for her to maintain such a rigorous exercise regimen.
Although her regimen is much above average, it’s not unusual. The exercises that Belfiore likes to stack are a 20-minute warm-up row and a 40-minute bike.
Users of both Hydrow and Peloton may be seen boasting about months-long streaks of screenshots in the respective Facebook communities.
Now, on my twentieth day of daily rowing and jogging regimen, I’m targeting a hundred days. If you figure that the typical Peloton home has two users, the connected fitness option starts to appear like a better value.
Buying a Peloton under the company’s financing plan costs $49 monthly for 39 months, plus the $39 monthly membership fee.
During the financing term, it works out to under $50 a month and under $20 a month after that, which is far cheaper than the average monthly cost of a gym membership in the United States, which is $58.
And when compared to the cost of treating a disease like type 2 diabetes, which may be avoided with lifestyle changes like weight loss and increased physical activity, these expenses pale in contrast.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third of American adults have prediabetes, and 34,2 million Americans have diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association reports annual medical costs for those with diabetes are $16,752, or 2.3 times those without diabetes.
Former US Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu advocates for medical facilities to assist patients in making healthy lifestyle choices rather than focusing on treatments.
“Investing a few bucks in preventive eliminates a large economic burden in the future,” he argues. Considering how sedentary most of us are these days, the value of exercise is hard to overestimate.
Throughout the Stanford Runners Study’s observation of over 500 runners aged 50 and older from 1984 to 2005, researchers showed that non-runners had a threefold higher risk of dying during that period.
The non-runners also had a lower “healthspan,” or ability to live a long and healthy life, since they lost their functionality at double the runners’ pace.
Author: Cayce Clifford The lack of information is not the obstacle to making a shift. The components of a healthy lifestyle are well-known to most of the population.
Neither does the time permit it. 3.1 hours a day is the average amount of television time spent by Americans. Moreover, it has nothing to do with currency.
Most subscriptions for internet-connected appliances cost less than $100 a month, which is less than 2% of the average monthly cost of $5,100 for an American family of four.
Lack of inspiration is the main issue. There’s no better environment for a connected workout program. The fitness center doesn’t hassle you when you don’t show up since you’re the perfect member.
Nearly 7,000 people are members at any time at a typical Planet Fitness location, even though only roughly 300 people may be accommodated at any given time due to the low monthly fees (often $10 or $20).
There isn’t anything in it to entice people to turn up. More people are better than less while working out at home. One of the difficulties of starting a fitness routine is that you may not see results for years, if not decades.
However, the benefits of linked fitness are minimal. People are inspired to the point that they will share enthusiastically on social media about even the smallest rewards, such as a digital medal for a two-week streak.
To motivate its customers even further, Hydrow offers tangible prizes; for rowing 2 kilometers, I may expect to get a baseball cap any day now.
Nothing here suggests that Peloton or any comparable company is guaranteed success. Shares of Peloton, which had more than quadrupled in value in 2020, plummeted by three-quarters in 2019 as competition intensified and its treadmills were recalled for safety concerns.
Following reports that production would be halted on Thursday, the stock fell another 25%, sending the company’s market value below its late 2019 IPO price.
The amount of venture capital invested in the fitness technology industry has increased by two since 2020, with major tech firms like Apple and Amazon competing for a market share.
The Meta division of Facebook paid $400 million for a virtual reality headgear and a plastic sabre in October for a fitness app.
All this rivalry, though, does signal that working out in one’s own house is here to stay. John Wyn-Evans, head of the investment strategy at Investec in London, argues that the next step is for more individuals to see fitness like they do a retirement savings plan.
Saving a few dollars a week now will provide you with a nest egg to retire on someday, and exercising for only 30 minutes a day will set you up for a healthy and productive old age.
People have a hard time seeing themselves 30 or 40 years from now and working backward to ask, “what should I be doing now?” he adds. In contrast, “if you have a saving attitude, you should be able to have a health-saving mentality.” Visualization of data by Steven Bernard, FT’s San Francisco journalist Patrick McGee.
Connected Fitness app
Connected fitness equipment
Connected fitness industry growth
In 2028, the market for connected fitness equipment in North America is projected to grow from $216.89 million in 2021 to $1,084.17 million.
Over the period from 2021 to 2028, the market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 25.8 percent.
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