Consumers Embrace a Hybrid Approach to Fitness

Multiple Ways to Sweat It Out

COVID-19 lockdowns upended the way people work out. Though the pandemic is far from over, people now have more choices about whether to exercise at home or in the gym. Consumers are increasingly using a hybrid approach, but markets do not necessarily reflect this.

Investors have bid down shares of Peloton (PTON) this year, betting that gyms reopening would hurt sales of the company’s at-home equipment. During the pandemic when consumers had little choice but to work out at home, shares of Peloton soared over 440%. Gym operator Planet Fitness (PLNT) gained just 4% in the same time frame. In 2021, Peloton is down over 35% this year while Planet Fitness is 2% higher.

At-home fitness equipment sales are not growing like they were last year when sales surged 85% year-over-year. However, sales are up 20% as of August compared to last year. When compared to 2019, sales of at-home fitness gear are more than 100% higher.

Traffic at Gyms Picks Up

At the same time, physical gyms are seeing an uptick in traffic. Earlier this month, visits to gyms across the country were just 8% off compared to 2019 levels. Gym chains including LA Fitness and The Edge Fitness Club recovered the most from lows during the pandemic, followed by Crunch Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness. Analysts expect that demand for gym memberships will continue to accelerate while home fitness equipment demand will remain steady.

More consumers are realizing that they can exercise at home and in the gym, depending on whether they are working at home or in the office. This is expected to drive demand for a hybrid model where people looking to exercise have multiple options.

Fitness Companies Position for a Hybrid Model

Both fitness equipment makers and gym operators are responding to these changes in demand and consumer behavior. Peloton has a corporate wellness program which is growing, while gym operator Life Time Fitness (LTH) overhauled its mobile app and launched a digital subscription program during the pandemic.

The fitness equipment makers are also doubling down on new equipment and spending more to reach potential customers. Peloton said this summer it’s increasing advertising while Hydrow, which makes a connected rowing machine, rolled out a marketing campaign this month that will run through the holidays. The pandemic altered the way people work, shop, and stay fit. Many of these lifestyle changes will likely last for years to come. As consumers embrace working out at home on some days and at the gym on other days, companies are finding ways to meet their needs.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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