Whether you’re a personal trainer, studio franchisee, content creator, or gym owner (or anything in between), this year has been turbulent to say the least. At Feed.fm, we’ve been rapidly iterating on products to serve more segments of the market and helping businesses with digital strategy every day. We work with partners on all sides of the industry that are 100% focused on driving successful digital businesses. And, we’re excited to learn from our latest collaborator - KK Hart, Certified Business Coach and Consultant.
We hear from businesses every day that music copyright is insanely confusing. We know that clear, succinct resources are few and far between. To that end, we’ve been compiling common questions and answers to help make sense of it all.
Topics: Music Licensing
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a number of changes in peoples’ fitness regimens, including some unexpected ones. In order to get first hand accounts of how people are pivoting, we conducted our own survey on a group of 400 men and women in the US, ages 18-54, that have exercised at home or outside in the last 30 days. Despite the media telling you otherwise, it seems as though, from the results of our survey, people have actually improved their fitness throughout this stressful time.
We’ve heard a lot about people building unhealthy habits during quarantine, but this may not be the case.
-70% of survey respondents said that they are working out more now than ever before.
People are actually using this time to form healthier habits and participate in forms of outdoor exercise. People across all walks of life are walking more, particularly since it was the only safe outlet for outdoor time for many weeks. At Feed.fm, we saw massive usage spikes for all of our at-home fitness app customers throughout April and May. Not only were people working out more frequently, but also working out for longer periods of time.
Gym Versus Home
Obviously, people haven’t had access to gyms and fitness classes as they used to, thus have had to get creative. But people still seem to be enjoying their workouts at home–– maybe even more than they expected. There is the convenience factor to consider, and the time savings realized by walking to the other room vs. driving across town. But, one thing many didn’t consider at the outset - it’s likely you have other people in the room while you’re getting your heart rate up. 43% of exercisers said they are typically in the living room, which is the highest traffic room in the house for many.
-71% of people say that, whether they like it or not, there are others present in the room while they work out.
-18% of those people find it embarrassing to work out in the presence of others.
Contrast this experience with gym workouts, which usually includes others exercising anonymously in the same room. Almost 1/5th of respondents would like that anonymity, but that’s just not happening with kids, spouses or roommates on top of each other in the house!
As discussed in our recent whitepaper, Content, Community and Technology: Digital ecosystems for fitness brands, we've found that there are five essential pillars of a unified digital fitness experience. This article follows the first in a series -- Time to Focus on Your App -- to spotlight the second pillar of digital fitness: Your wearables.
Wearables are here to stay
Even before COVID-19, fitness and digital had been on a path of convergence. As remote fitness takes root more deeply, wearables are quickly transforming from basic data capture tools to sophisticated feedback devices that responsively support a broad population...encompassing people with medical conditions to professional athletes and everyone in between.
The last decade saw major transformations to the fitness industry, with an explosion of new digital fitness companies spurring the old guard to adopt digital engagement strategies. Yet even the most farsighted would likely concede that the future has arrived much quicker than expected. COVID-19 is already seen as a tipping point in the merging of fitness and digital. As discussed in our recent whitepaper, Content, Community and Technology: Digital ecosystems for fitness brands, fitness customers increasingly expect that all brands provide convenient, high-tech options for exercising remotely.
There has never been a more pressing need to get your content online. Our recommendations seek to balance this expediency against the considerations that can deliver long-term ROI to your business. At Feed.fm, we've found that there are five essential pillars of a unified digital fitness experience.
- Custom-built mobile apps
- Integration with wearable health-tracking devices
- Professional-quality video content and hosting
- Training content
- Music integration
This article focuses on the first pillar of digital fitness: Your mobile app.
As discussed in our recent whitepaper, Content, Community and Technology: Digital ecosystems for fitness brands, the community aspect of digital fitness is key to building a sustainable fitness business. Factors including technological advances, more varied living arrangements, and decreasing participation in organized religion (especially for millennials), are driving people to create community in different ways than in the past.
For many, their fitness community plays an increasingly important role, helping to create connections, purpose, and accountability. Even when your customers aren’t in the same building, they should feel connected to your brand and part of something bigger than themselves. It’s not just about driving a stickier user experience, but building community that can foster deep relationships and help people reach their full potential.
At Feed.fm we work with fitness brands across the consumer landscape and we’ve seen a wide range of community-building strategies employed. To help get the gears turning on how you can implement features of your own, we’ve gathered 4 innovative and proven examples from companies that excel at promoting community.
1) Strava - Though created primarily for cyclers as a way to document their biking miles, Strava has expanded their scope to “be the center of [exercisers’] active life. The popular app (more than 8 million activities are uploaded per day) has expanded from its commonly-known cycling & running footprint to court Peloton subscribers, rowers and other athletes, and former CEO James Quarles sees it more as a social network for fitness: “We think Strava plays a role for people not just when they’re recording an activity but before and after, right?” he says. “You can find routes, you can find groups to join, people to go with. Then, once you post the activity, you can talk about it, post photos, tag friends, and memorialize and relive the event.” Members say that being connected to cyclists of similar interests and abilities allows them to discover new routes, which helps keep them invigorated in their training routines.
2) Studio - Billed as a “boutique fitness studio in your pocket”, the Studio app offers treadmill, outdoor running, strength training, and stretch workouts led by top trainers. Head instructor Lisa Niren had this to say about the prioritization of community: “Our members are the lifeblood of our company and community is central and integral to everything we do. I like to say that our fanatical member base is a mix of a little bit of luck and also a LOT of nurturing from the entire team. It is non-stop 24/7, but the most rewarding part of the job.” While it may seem obvious, the number one recommendation is being present and getting to truly know your members, which is a massive time commitment. Niren puts it succinctly: “I make it my personal goal, and the goal of everyone on my team, to be deeply rooted in our community and members. Caring, getting to know them, being present on social media & in Tribes is the key to our success and really making members feel at home when they are with us. Especially now, during a trying time, they come to us not just for physical fitness but also mental and emotional fitness, support and time away from everything else going on.”
3) Pharos Athletic Club in Los Angeles has achieved renown in a fitness-obsessed city for the strength of their community (the owners of other gyms regularly work out at the 20,000 square foot facility.) Three times a year, Pharos hosts a “Limitless Challenge,” in which members are grouped into teams coached by Pharos’ full-time Personal Trainers, take multiple group fitness classes together, receive one-on-one consults throughout the challenge and have their vital health stats (weight, lean body mass, body fat percentage, etc.) tracked on a weekly basis. Combining teams in a competition format creates a balanced environment that pushes participants while maintaining camaraderie, and all participants (there were more than 50 in the latest Limitless Challenge) celebrate with a group outing following the five-week competition. The latest Challenge, which ended in early March, resulted in 122 pounds of muscle gained and 331 pounds of fat lost. More recently, as Pharos (along with most gyms in Los Angeles) has temporarily shuttered in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, its trainers have begun conducting multiple free classes daily via Instagram Live. In the words of Pieter Vodden, one of the club’s owners, Pharos was “started by community and it will survive by community.”
4) Mirror - Described as a “Nearly Invisible Interactive Home Gym,” Mirror is a unique piece of fitness hardware - it’s a mirror that hangs on the wall, but doubles as a wireless video screen through which you can participate in workouts remotely, both live and on demand, with top fitness trainers from across the country. The fast-growing startup has received a ton of buzz for its adoption amongst celebrities, and the community aspect of their workout is played up in every press mention - “everyone in the class can see the names and locations of the other people in the class, displayed as bubbles that pop up on the screen when they join.” Participants can also share injuries or questions with the instructors - who can’t see participants - anonymously, maintaining privacy while still allowing for a community feel. Instructors also have access to heart-rate data to ensure sufficient motivation and impact for each workout. Much of the community-building takes place on Instagram, and instructor Gerren Liles has even created his own sub community, Team 100, which is all about giving 100% of your effort every time you show up. Mirror engages with the community on social platforms to get to know them, then references users during live workouts, which brings the studio feel to a digital environment.
Whether you’re looking to build a community from scratch or make your member’s bonds stronger, there’s a lot of great inspiration available right now. To summarize, successful brands (physical and digital) recommend:
- Offering ways to memorialize exercisers’ efforts and easy ways for them to connect post-activity;
- Taking the time to get to know your community and be present for them on social media;
- Bringing people together with common goals, celebrating the wins together; and
- Referencing personal facts and user names during live digital classes to bring the studio feel to life.
Anecdotal instances of music being “therapeutic” can be pointed to by most people. In one way or another, music has impacted our lives - almost everyone we know has had moments where the right song at the right time has improved a mood, helped repair a relationship, or even uncovered an insight that helped shape our personalities.
Beyond these meaningful but non-scientific personal anecdotes, there is an extensive history of real scientific literature on music’s effectiveness in improving the quality of life for a host of conditions and illnesses: autism, dementia, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression, and even amongst cancer-stricken or terminally ill patients.
The term for this is music therapy, and it isn’t a hidden idea: in the last 5 years alone, more than 20,000 scientific papers studying or reviewing music therapy as a mode of treatment have been published by academics at institutions such as Johns Hopkins, the National Institutes of Health, and Harvard University.
One of the distinguishing features of electronic music is how rapidly it changes, both in absolute terms, and relative to other genres. Modern electronic music traces back to the 80s with new wave and synth pop bringing electronic to the mainstream. The 90s saw an explosion in distinct sub genres and underground techno and the sudden access to production tools like Fruity Loops that opened up production and composition to something anyone could do.
The turn of the century ushered in the Electronic Dance Music (EDM) era and electronic is no longer just a genre, but an influential component of all mainstream music. “Electronic” is an alarmingly broad term that encompasses both the mainstream pop tracks so prevalent today, as well as a thriving underground ranging from house to dubstep to minimal techno.
At Feed.fm, we’ve published a plethora of content on how music can affect fitness outcomes. Music makes runners feel less tired while enabling them to run faster and more intensely; music can nearly double the amount of time people spend at the gym; music can help people set world records in major Olympic events.
Since the iPhone’s launch in 2007, the world of fitness apps has steadily grown, with nearly 320,000 health and fitness apps in the app stores in 2018.
While the quantity of apps has swelled steadily, we have also seen massive growth in variety. While the original apps were lower touch (think MyFitnessPal) and only required engagement for a minute or two at a time, the normalization of extended screen time for video and audio on mobile devices combined with sophisticated user research has given way to a significant diversification in the offerings available within the fitness app universe.
Consumers have also become comfortable with the idea of optimizing their health through data as opposed to a one-size-fits-all “hit the treadmill” ideology. The proliferation of bespoke training regimens, measurement of biomarkers and the neatly packaged convenience of tracking ALL of this information on a device you already own has up leveled the status of an app. Health apps are now more akin to a daily partner in the pursuit of health.