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Traditional, Digital OR both: is the future of fitness Hybrid?

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step set go

As the wheels of restoration begin to turn, everyone wants to know – what’s the next move for most industries that have had to refocus, reshape, and adapt to the new 2020 dynamic? Widespread lockdown and restrictions lead to almost overnight digital evolution. Businesses across the board were pushed to enter the 21st century and take the leap online. So now, with normalcy on the cards how do we see this evolution pivot? For us in the fitness space, this question poses immense possibilities.

With people spending more time at home, the possibility to focus on fitness became more apparent. Hence the opportunities for fitness players to really succeed opened up further. With that said what we saw was a clear demarcation of where the future of this ecosystem was headed. It had an almost dichotomous effect on the fitness ecosystem. On one end of the spectrum, we saw some long-standing brick-and-mortar establishments shut shop and on the other, we saw smaller digital players and tech-based start-ups rise to the occasion and thrive.

Termed as the ‘New-Age Fitness’ era apps ruled the roost. Suddenly the world of fitness opened up to the masses, with no geographical restrictions. With a flick of a finger, you could access everything from celebrity trainers to cult-favorite Yoga training. Social media feeds were filled with everything from the Adho Mukha Vrksasana (the handstand Yoga pose) to InstaStories of goals achieved on fitness trackers. People were trying it all. Lack of time wasn’t an excuse and if it was the question of accessibility all you needed was an internet connection.

What remained crucial to the success of this new-world-fitness-order is the capability to keep people motivated and on-track. The ability to see progress in real-time is what users have come to expect from their fitness partners and it’s what has helped this industry thrive over the last few months. From goal-setting to progress tracking, these virtual companions have now been able to help users achieve their targets and in some cases even gratify every accomplishment. It expressed a sense of vested interest in the user’s fitness journey. In fact, as per the Jan Ki Baat fitness survey, the lockdown saw a whopping 56% of Indians working out regularly thanks to online training and access to fitness apps.

The rise of virtual fitness has paved the way for more radical immersive experiences like enhanced gamification and augmented reality. In fact, it could play a pivotal role in the future of fitness. But in no way will that replace the ecosystem that has served as the backbone of the industry. Fitness enthusiasts who have had a longstanding commitment to their health and love those early mornings or late nights on the treadmill are in no way going to just give it up cold turkey.

What we will see in the near future is the dawn of Hybrid fitness. An ecosystem where virtual and traditional merge to provide, anywhere-anytime access. The two almost complete each other in a way, providing a holistic experience for the end-user. This will be as close to a win-win scenario in terms of engagement and acquisition at both sides of the collaboration while also providing the end-user an option to switch things up as and when required. So tomorrow, a user can do a 30-minute YouTube featured HIIT workout at home – follow that up with a run in the evening tracked closely by a mobile app or wearable and close it off with a kick-boxing session at their local fitness center.

– Shivjeet Ghatge, CEO & Co-founder of StepSetGo

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