Now that we’re seeing some light at the end of this long tunnel, people are starting to reflect on the last year. There were plenty of personal growth opportunities and so many turbulent emotions. The business/work aspect of life has also been a somewhat conflicted experience, with some businesses thriving while others were knocked down hard. Countless artists and venues have had their lives and livelihoods turned upside down due to canceled performances and social distancing measures. But on the other hand, the same pandemic-related factors have helped music streaming reach new highs and motivated digital innovation across commerce, fitness, music, and many more segments.
Music can bring about intense, measurable physiological changes. At Feed.fm, we talk a lot about music’s ability to get you through the tough parts of a workout through psychological and physiological stimulation. Because we are often focused on music’s impact on exercise, we tend to gravitate to its profound impact on endurance (music increases by 15%!) and perceived exertion (music decreases by 12%!). But we know that music also has the power to decrease arousal and bring heart rate, blood pressure and even body temperature down. For this post, I’ll be exploring the ability of music to down-regulate key body measurements and how it can help heal.
Music has been used as a relaxation tool for centuries, but we’re only recently seeing the impact through studies in academic settings. For example, a 2012 Chicago Medical School study found that music has beneficial effects in reducing blood pressure and heart rate in a variety of clinical settings, including pre-op and ICU. One of the true advantages of music in these settings is that there are zero side effects, which means anyone can take advantage of the positive impact.
Well, friends, it looks like it’s going to be a long winter. Case counts in my county are up 120% in the last two weeks and we’re back to purple status. As we prepare to hunker down for the next 4 months, I have realized it will take all the tools in the toolbox to stay sane and maintain some peace of mind this winter. With a demanding job and a demanding (awesome!) 3 year old, it takes more presence and proactive measures to stay balanced than it ever has. I know my colleagues and others around the country are in the same stressful boat.
My company spends a lot of time talking to smart people in the health and fitness industry, so I’ve gleaned some great tips. Let’s proactively try as many tactics as we can and share what works (over email or Zoom, of course)!
Here are 6 items and practices I’ll be integrating into my routine to stave off the blues in addition to daily exercise and meditation.
- Full-spectrum light via a Light Box
Full-spectrum light covers the full electromagnetic spectrum and mimics daylight without harmful UV rays. I’ve used them for years with indoor plants, but never thought to leverage them for myself. I spend enough time sitting at the desk, that I figure it’s a worthwhile investment for 20-30 minutes a day.
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.