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!
Feed.fm works with the world’s leading fitness companies to provide legal, curated music integration in their apps and digital settings. While each brand has unique considerations (development bandwidth, customer acquisition challenges, competitive pressures), we consistently hear from customers that "I wish we'd done this sooner."
From our vantage point of working across the fit tech sector, we can see there is a clear opportunity cost to waiting on music integration. So we tallied the Top Reasons for “Why Music Now?”
REASON #1 — Exerciser Impact
The world’s leading authority on fitness and music, Dr. Costas Karageorghis, has proven that music can improve running performance by 15%; it can be a sedative or a stimulant; a nerve calmer or focus inducer; a pre-workout entryway into flow state; a mood enhancer; and an agent that reduces perceived effort by up to 10%.
The past five years have seen significant growth in the fitness tech sector, transforming how many people exercise. One thing that isn’t changing? The need for fresh, inspiring music, which has been shown to enhance athletic performance for professionals and amateurs alike. A detailed study by the Sports Medicine – Open journal found that people work out 28% longer per week when they have the right music.
As a B2B music company, Feed.fm is on the front lines of this fit tech groundswell, handling music licensing, curation, and integration for more than 40 different fitness customers. The specific exercise programs offered by our customers (Fitbit, 8fit, Tonal, Mirror, and others) differ greatly. That said, there are a few workout music stations that are always winners regardless of activity.
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.
App developers and marketers need to face the facts: it’s 2019, and users either love your app or they delete it.
In the digital fitness world, this really isn’t an exaggeration. 96% of fitness app users stick to just ONE fitness app. The rest fall by the wayside or are deleted outright.
To any app owner or marketer it quickly becomes apparent that improving retention is the best possible opportunity for improving the bottom line. There are a number of strategies commonly used - push notifications, faster in-app experiences, etc. These have diminishing returns, however, and app marketers are missing out on an entire form of engagement: sound. Specifically, implementing in-app music to drive up usage and loyalty.
We analyzed real engagement data from real apps, including a suite of leading fitness apps who have more than 400,000 user sessions a week. All in all, the results were eye-opening across all 4 major categories of app metrics:
- Frequency of use
- Session times
- Conversion from Trial to Paid
- Long-Term Retention (beyond 30 days)
With more and more people migrating from the gym to digital fitness programs, there’s an impressive quantity, quality, and variety of fitness classes available on demand. As the fit tech boom continues, we’re frequently asked to provide input on both the legal side of music integration and the technical aspect of audio recording. The diagram below simplifies the decision process and summarizes the advice our Head of Curation (and Sound Engineer) typically shares.
Perhaps it’s intuitive that audio quality and music are as important as the image, lighting, and visual elements of your finished product. If not, here’s some advice from professional sports photographer and videographer David Bracetty, who makes a living based on how things look: “…I can’t recall a single comment on video quality, [but] I do recall commenting on sound and being able to hear, so get a good mic."
“Music is an important part of our physical and emotional well-being, ever since we were babies in our mother’s womb listening to her heartbeat and breathing rhythms.” -- Franz Wendtner, Clinical Psychologist, University (General) Hospital Salzburg
It’s an intuitive, increasingly acknowledged fact that music is a powerful motivational tool. Perhaps you play music in the morning to help you wake up, enlist the radio when driving to help stay focused and alert, or listen to music during your workouts. Over the past half-century, countless studies have shown the positive correlation between music and activities as diverse as exercise and shopping. Music’s ability to help us perform better and “stick it out” is a behavioral result.
What’s lesser known: music can also deliver long-term physiological results, re-wiring our brains in a process known as neuroplasticity. Neuroscientists offer the following shorthand for this re-wiring phenomenon: “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Research has shown music’s ability to increase neuroplasticity, and there are many innovative, music-powered solutions to age-old medical problems that affect all of us.
Every day we come across new evidence-based reasons to integrate music into our lives. At Feed.fm we’ve spent much of this year working closely with fitness companies to help them improve workouts with music. There is a great body (pun intended!) of work that illustrates the many ways music positively impacts physical exertion, a few key points here. Much of this work is focused on athletes and healthy adults, but what about music’s impact on healing? Musical interventions can play a huge role in health care, from operation rooms to rehab centers to in-home recovery scenarios.
There is so much incredible science emerging around the positive impact of music on ailments and healing, so we decided to narrow it down to our top 5 favorites for now.1) Music is better than drugs in reducing anxiety before surgery
In over 15 studies, researchers were able to prove a drop in cortisol (stress hormone) after listening to relaxing music. One study even compared patients who listened to music directly with patients who took a Valium. Believe it or not, music wins!