Research shows impact of technology on the fitness industry
COVID-19 disrupted life as we know it and over the past year, nearly every individual and business has had their daily routine dramatically altered. With nationwide stay-at-home orders in full effect, one of the areas most impacted has been the fitness industry.
A new global customer survey by Virtuagym, a provider of fitness technology for coaching, member engagement, and club management, has revealed the crucial role that fitness technology has played for fitness businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the key part it is predicted to have for the future of the industry.
The research was conducted on 6,000 fitness businesses using Virtuagym’s software and found that digital technology was vital in keeping members engaged in fitness, during a period in which over two-thirds (69%) had to close their doors for at least three months.
Homework outs become normality during this time period and nearly half (45%) of gyms and a third of fitness studios (32%) and personal trainers (36%) used technology to provide home workout content. Wearable technology has also proven invaluable, with over half (51%) of gyms and 45% of personal trainers using fitness trackers to assist clients in meeting their fitness goals during the prolonged periods of restrictions.
Over two thirds (69%) of gyms used digital check-ins, online class bookings, and attendance tracking, to ensure compliance with COVID-19 regulations.
Technology will be a game-changer for fitness
“As an organisation with the ambition to make the world healthier through innovative technology, we are excited to see the extent to which technology-driven solutions were embraced by fitness businesses to support them through such a difficult period for our industry”, said Hugo Braam, CEO and Co-Founder of Virtuagym.
The study found 60% of gyms and over half of studios (54%) used online group classes, whilst half (50%) of gyms used in-app community features. There was also a rise in outdoor fitness, with the majority of fitness studios (86%) training in parks and over 40% of gyms and personal trainers working out in front of their facilities.
“We believe that technology will be a real game-changer for the fitness industry”, added Braam. “It can enable operators big and small to deliver varied and personalised experiences to keep clients feeling motivated, ultimately really improving their physical and mental wellbeing”.
Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”