Helping the Fitness Industry During COVID-19

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As the world hunkers down to overcome the current health crisis, numerous industries are dealing with disruption. This blog series dives into the impact of COVID-19 on some of the most hard-hit industries and explores how distributed agile development can help these industries begin a digital transformation that will serve them well into the future.

While it is uncertain what the long term impacts of COVID-19 might be for the fitness industry, the short term impacts have been devastating for an industry worth an estimated $100 billion. Gyms and workout facilities across the United States were some of the first businesses to completely shut down, from fears of how the virus spreads through contact between individuals. As uncertainty grows and the pandemic drags on, the fitness industry must adapt and get creative to keep people in shape and customers paying.

Many clubs around the country have created their own in-house solutions for their members, with some offering free fitness programming to the general public. Some fitness studios are offering live classes for free. Places like Planet Fitness are hosting live classes daily on Facebook; Orangetheory has migrated their classes to a digital platform and 24 Hour Fitness has uploaded more than 1,500 on-demand workouts online.

Some businesses that already had an app in place before the pandemic are shifting their focus solely to mobile app delivery. Gympass, the corporate wellness company, announced that they are expanding access to their digital app with virtual workouts, nutrition plans, and other wellness lifestyle information. Variis has been streaming content from Equinox, SoulCycle, Pure Yoga, and other studios. While some apps like Peloton are offering complimentary temporary memberships or increasing access to their library of classes.

Traditional workout facilities along with boutique gyms have been hit the hardest so far, operating on thin margins before the outbreak meant that even small disruptions in normal business activities pose major challenges. These places have gotten creative by joining services like ClassPass. ClassPass is a subscription-based service that partners with local boutique fitness classes, and recently launched live workouts: More than 500 studios have added live, bookable classes to the platform, and 100% of live stream proceeds go directly to the studios.

The importance of IoT and integration with dedicated devices was already on the rise before the disruption of COVID-19, but has seen increased value in a world locked out of the gym. As the wearable technologies industry continues to grow, more devices of all shapes and sizes are able to provide users with more accurate data that is tracked in real time. The functionality of such devices is constantly expanding and providing users with valuable insights into their health. Wireless tracking technologies like FitBit and other fitness trackers can track users’: pulse, steps, calories burned, distance traveled, and even sleeping habits. These devices are often integrated with mobile applications, which can track the users’ physical condition or help them follow personal training guides and diet plans. At a time when access to workout facilities and trainers is prohibited these wearable devices, complete with tracking services, are essential in viewing progress and keeping users healthy. Which makes the hardware and software behind the integration of these devices absolutely critical to the success of the product and the ease of use for the consumer across the fitness industry.

While the majority of businesses in the fitness industry have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a few that have benefited. Virtual and digital fitness companies are starting to see positive ripples from the industry shift. MIRROR, an interactive at-home fitness system that looks like a full-length mirror, has more than doubled its sales since the beginning of the crisis. Similarly for Obé, an online-only fitness service, that gives members unlimited access to 14 live classes a day and 4,000+ on-demand classes has seen membership numbers soar over the last month.

Distributed Agile Development for the Fitness Industry 

As the fitness industry pushes through these uncertain times, it is clear that digital transformation has and will continue to play a major role in the future. In an industry that was already trending in a digital direction, the companies that had embraced this digital transformation long before this pandemic have found themselves in a formidable position amongst their competitors who have been slower to adopt digital practices.

Businesses in the fitness industry have the opportunity to gain a significant competitive edge and reap long-term benefits by becoming digital now. With limited resources and time being of the essence during this global crisis, distributed agile software development is an effective way to support the transition to a virtual fitness world. Distributed agile software development involves groups of geographically dispersed technology teams who are able to continuously generate value by delivering software, meeting deadlines and innovating on high. Through this approach, software development is uninterrupted and can be conducted in a fluid, fast and iterative way, enabling, in this case, virtual fitness experiences.

With a majority of these businesses choosing to take the mobile application route as the first step on their digital transformation journey, having a dedicated team focused solely on making sure the app runs smoothly and delivers the expected experience for the customer is absolutely critical. Oftentimes, if a customer finds an application too buggy or difficult to use, they may opt to download a different app and see if they like it better. Furthermore, if a customer is paying for the services of an app and is unsatisfied, they may leave negative reviews or voice their displeasure to their community, resulting in the loss of not just one, but multiple potential customers and a tarnished brand image. This is where distributed agile software development comes to rescue, and can help you keep your mobile app running efficiently and keep customers happy and healthy.

For those who are unable to achieve distributed agile software development on their own, there are organizations that offer it as a service and are ready to aid these impacted industries. Exadel is one of them. With agile software development and engineering teams throughout North America and Eastern Europe, Exadel is continuing to deliver digital transformation projects. We’ve been working as a distributed agile software development company for decades and have the resources and expertise to take on even the toughest digital transformation projects. The Exadel team is especially passionate about helping organizations during these times when, for many, there is no choice but to embrace digital transformation. 

If you are looking to kick your digital transformation into high gear, contact us today to get started.

Author: Jonathan Fries