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The future of fitness industry- post COVID era

Jitendra Chouksey
Jitendra Chouksey
I've been asked by many people to share my views on fitness industry and how it's going to shape in the future.  I am doing this so it can help some of you guys who're planning to become a part of the fitness industry. These are my personal views and not universal facts so treat as such. 

IS THERE A FUTURE?

There is. A bright one. I've been saying it for several years and am glad people have started to see it now. Before we get into why the fitness industry could be the next big thing, let's understand what makes or breaks an industry? At the most basic level, the number of people looking for products/services. There was a boom in IT industry because after 2000, most people were looking for software solutions. Everyone was making a transition from hardware to software. Registers were being replaced by Excel-sheets. Computers were replacing humans. 


In the last 2 decades, IT continued to grow to an extent where most of the services which were once expensive became dirt-cheap/on cloud. As more and more people started realising that IT is not the end product but a mean to an end, they started building services/products on cloud and we saw the rise of SAAS/PAAS/IAAS and will still continue to see for a foreseeable future. 


Bottomline is, where there's a demand, someone will have to fill in the gap. What will keep you afloat in the market though is how effectively are you solving that problem and how quickly can you adapt and improvise. Today all operating systems are free. It's hard to believe when only a few years back, even students had to shell out 3k to buy a copy of windows OS. Today, nobody cares about the OS, no-one talks about how fast or slow a system is. Crashes in an operating system are a thing of the past. But only people who continued to refine their systems are ruling the market i.e. Microsoft, Apple, Google. There are no other big players. 


They identified a problem, they tried to fix it, iterated and perfected. Now they're innovating. 

OFFLINE TO ONLINE

Let's be honest, offline wasn't going to be sustainable anytime soon. It was never designed to turn into a profitable venture for all. The unit economics would never work out. The model thrived because some made money. Even if someone did scale it to an extent, they'd still end up where We-work did. It was just a matter of time. I don't see how this will change in future. If anything, am feeling less hopeful for physical setups. Yes you'd see users crying for gyms to reopen, but the same users won't show up when the gyms open. We experienced that when we opened offline centres. Where are we with offline centres today? Nowhere. 


"If we listened to people, we'd have faster horses", Henry Ford once said. Think about your gym and healthy food restaurant business once again. Cooking robots will become home essentials like washing machines and refrigerator. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQjXaTlGHIY) I saw this at CES this year. Give it another 2-3 years.


The same applies to gyms. I was a guy who'd never get comfortable working out at home and yet here I am. Haven't missed a single day working out at home. Minus the useless travel to and fro

I wonder how many guys will have a similar realisation. With VR, it'll be more fun and engaging. 

HUMAN TOUCH

AI will not replace humans. In a dystopian future, where androids and humans live together. Humans will still crave real humans. Unlike Humans, Androids won't have flaws and therefore after a brief admiration, we'd go back to craving humanity. It's in our nature. So between now and next 50 years, I assure you that human touch will not lose its touch. We seek relevance amongst our species. We don't compare ourselves with animals and so we'd never compare ourselves with AI or droids. Since we won't compare with them, we'd not seek relevance either. What's the most effective tool against AI? Humanity. 


Compassion, care, listening ability, ability to inspire, all these things will become paramount in determining if you'd become a successful coach or not. Your technical knowledge will be as good as an operating system. Nobody would pay for it. They'd assume it to be good. 

SOLUTION FOCUS

Products come and go and are replaced by new products. Time and again, they promise and fail to deliver. Earlier the discard cycles use to be longer and even bad products stayed in market for long. But not today, the discard cycle is getting shorter and shorter. If your product/solution works, it's an immediate hit. If it doesn't work, it's an immediate failure. If you're not solving a problem, then are you even needed?


Gyms are not supposed to solve boredom, for that we've Netflix. The prime objective is to make you fitter. Did that really happen though? Why do you think Fittr worked? even though it's not a gym, there's no physical interaction at all. It delivers what it promises. 


While it's good to have sort of moats around your product, it's good that your product has a great design and advertisement. But it needs to have a core proposition without which it's a waste of money. Sooner or later, people will find out. 

TRUST 

Most companies are where they're today because of people's trust. In today's world, trust is everything. Health and fitness is no exception. Your actions establish trust not necessarily your words. You've to do what you say and you've to say what you live over and over. Just like you won't select a doctor or a lawyer based on an advertisement you won't necessary select a fitness product/service because of an ad either. You'd want a strong recommendation or a friends suggestion before you make an investment into your health. In an industry filled with VC money, trust must be earned. You can't buy it. 

ENDURANCE

You don't build something sustainable without people trying to break it. That's how it works. People will always try to break something because they can. It's your fault if you let them. Consistency is a powerful tool. The toughest thing in the world is to keep doing the same thing over and over with same focus and same intensity. If you're not passionate about fitness, you'd feel burned out. But if you can keep up, it's going to be a bliss. It'll be a rewarding career both financially as well as emotionally. 


Fitness industry is here to stay and it will be the next big thing! 


I hope this helps!

Cheers