Is it possible to digitally capture the magic and motivation of a talented trainer, in a group fitness studio that feels like the place to be—and all the other finer points of an IRL sweat sesh? Everyone from marquee-name fitness gurus and spin-and-stream innovator Peloton to megabrands like Equinox and Amazon are racing to answer that question with a big, sweaty yes.
In 2018 digital fitness innovations will let brands go big when they go (into your) home. “If the instructor is better, if the hardware is better, if the software is better, if the location is better, and if the value is better…why would you travel outside the home?” posits Peloton CEO John Foley, whose indoor cycling bike streams live and archived workouts, including classes “beyond the bike.” (Its latest round of funding valued Peloton at $1.25 billion.)
Engaging, online classes streamed to your devices are a logical play for fitness brands, considering they can really increase the reach of the hottest fitness talent more than studios can alone. “We see about 800 clients in our NYC studios each week,” says Anna Kaiser, founder of cult-fave AKT dance cardio workout. “On the AKT on Demand app, we’ve accessed 100 times that amount of people. So given sheer numbers alone, the digital space has been essential for the brand’s growth and visibility.”
And the tech-enhanced home fitness market is going way beyond BowFlex with dozens of breakout brands in 2018. Think: AI trainers who live in “bio-sensing earphones” from a new company called Vi, and “group fitness” classes that occur every hour via the Studio Tone It Up app, a just-launched platform from the creators of Tone It Up, a global community of 5 million women. Trampoline sessions from cult-faves LEKFit and—soon—Bari Studio. You can follow trainer-led audio workouts (running, strength training, yoga, pre-natal sessions, and more) set to killer playlists from modelFIT, as well as Aaptiv, which just raised 26 million in a Series B round of funding, and in 2018, ClassPass is launching anywhere HIIT sequences. Even the luxe fitness club Equinox, which has brick-and-mortar locations all over the United States, has begun leveraging the Lift virtual training platform with its Tier X.
“When you look at how to really scale a fitness business, digital opens up the exponential growth curve for these brands,” says Aarti Kapoor, a Moelis analyst who focuses on the wellness space. It’s no wonder then that the global digital-fitness market is expected to reach an estimated $27.4 billion by 2022 and is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of of 33 percent from 2017 to 2022.
And not to be left out of the digital conversation (like, ever), Amazon just purchased body-mapping technology, so virtual-reality workouts might just be your next Prime benefit.
What else is going to be huge next year? We’ve picked 18 for ’18—check out all of our Wellness Trend predictions here.