By Carrie Dorr
With the Wellness Industry now valued at $4.3 TRILLION, many people are interested in what the crystal ball shows for 2020. For the purposes of this piece, my crystal ball is focused on the space with a studio lens.
1. Single Disciplined Studios Will Face Even More Competition.
When I reference single discipline, I am referring to studios which offer one type of exercise, HIIT, barre, pilates, spin, etc. The industry tends to refer to these as “verticals” which really irks me as I believe it undermines the technique behind each discipline...I digress. These studios have faced an enormous increase in competition over the past few years as the space has become oversaturated and consumer behavior has evolved from doing one type of workout daily to preferring a different style of workout every day of the week. When I began Pure Barre in 2001, women came 5x/week, however boutique fitness didn’t really exist. Times have changed.
The oversaturation and shift in consumer behavior are not new, however the emergence, or should I say return, of Multi-Disciplined studios or “Fitness Halls” such as Byndfit and The Assembly offer every class you’d desire with the convenience of one roof. The variety in offering is something I loved about teaching in big box when I began my teaching career in 1992 (not a typo). The issue the big boxes had back then was the lack of quality and attention to both programming and teaching which lead the mass exodus to boutique fitness studios.
This does make you wonder…will we see a return to an evolved version of big box like Tru Fusion? In 2017, Planet Fitness leased more new square footage in malls than anyone else. The same for Life Time, Gold’s Gym, and Equinox’s Blink Fitness. Everything does come full circle right? Only time will tell but Big Box will need to bring the quality of programming and teachers in each discipline they offer as the consumer has grown to expect it from their Single Disciplined studios. Let’s just hope 90’s hair does not also make a come back.
2. Wellness Disciplines Will Be Offered Singularly as well as Alongside Fitness Disciplines.
Awareness is growing around “Whole Health” as people are beginning to see that fitness is just one spoke in the wellness wheel. Personally, I am thrilled about this awakening after years and years of people only asking me how many calories they were burning, if pliés increased their thigh size and how to lose weight for spring break.
I’m not bashing desiring results from physical fitness, however I’d prefer the conversation to include questions such as: How should I be exercising so I can hike with my kids when they are 20? What can I do to help my body recover How should I be eating to support and sustain a healthy lifestyle? How can I be proactive about my mental and emotional health?
This movement is still in its’ infancy but we are seeing Meditation studios such as MNDFL and Salt Rooms like Salthaus arrive to the marketplace. Emerging brands like The Well and Parsley Health bring wellness offerings such as IV drips, infrared saunas, libraries, some integrating western and eastern medicine, alongside a wide array of fitness offerings. We should all hope this movement takes off in a meaningful way. The current ecosystem is extremely imbalanced and disjointed making it challenging to achieve whole health and wellbeing.
3. Private Membership Studios Will Emerge.
Although private equity entering the boutique fitness space has been a catalyst for greater accessibility and evolution, it has also corporatized an industry that at its’ core is small and specialized. Physical health, Emotional health and Body Image/Body Confidence are all so intimate, personal and deep-rooted, when treated from the top like a 7-Eleven well…it just feels icky. Membership based spaces such as Peformix and Ghost are rising presenting a solution for those tiring of aggressive marketing and their health experience feeling so cookie-cutter.
4. Online Workouts Will Be Expected As Part of a Brick n’ Mortar Studio Package.
Working out at-home is nothing new. Think Jane Fonda, Buns of Steel, thigh-master (which you can still buy on Amazon if anyone is interested), Tae-Bo and Gilad. Beach Body has been around since 1998! Peloton has definitely evolved the at-home experience and their inspiration, coupled with a low barrier to entry, has created a lightning fast oversaturation of the digital fitness space in the past year. The space is crowded, the margins are low and it has yet to be determined how big the at-home market actually is verses what some want it to be.
Who doesn’t love the option though of being able to workout at home or in your hotel room if not regularly at least once and awhile? For these reasons, and this is why I’m including it in this “studio lens” piece, I believe that brick n’ mortar studios will need to offer streaming as an amenity to be competitive in the future.
5. Offerings focused on Mental Health Will Increase.
I touched on the Mental Health Epidemic in a piece I wrote last month which mentioned for the first time in Barnes & Noble’s history, Mental Health books outsold Diet and Exercise books. With this awareness becoming mainstream, I think we will see entrepreneurs really begin to create in the space. We have already seen a good amount of product tools but studios/spaces similar to the Lumena MindBody Pod which combines light and sound in to an immersive experience, are just the beginning of what we will see in the future. Look for my podcast next month with Kaleb Matson, Founder and CEO of Lumena to learn more. PS- I have tried the Pod!
Although we all know crystal balls don’t have a great historical performance of predicting industry trends, one thing is for sure, 2020 will prove to be an exciting year for both consumers, who will reap the benefits of all this innovation and evolution, as well as businesswomen and entrepreneurs.