04.03.22 | 10 mins

The Future of Fitness

An overview of the emerging initiatives and user behaviours of the fitness world.
By Esther Alonso, Carla Goldstein

The aim of this trend analysis is to get an overview of the emerging initiatives and user behaviours or needs related to the fitness world, as well as to obtain references of possible services within these trends that other competitors are integrating in their gyms in order to make better strategic decisions.

Exercise x Medicine:
Including care physicians

Exercise is medicine (EIM) is a global health initiative that focuses on encouraging care physicians and health care providers to include physical activity assessment and associated treatments as part of every patient visit and referring their patients to exercise professionals.

As a counterpart to this initiative, gyms can benefit from it in reverse, i.e. by offering certain health care services within their facilities. In general, these services tend to be more related to rehabilitation.

For example, BXR London offers soft tissue therapies, physiotherapy and osteopathy while Third Space includes the latter two, together with podiatry, sports massages and Chinese or medical acupuncture. E by Equinox provides specialized recovery through advanced techniques as Hypervolt therapy and Reebok Sports Club covers this category with its health care & physiotherapy partner Healthing and their hidrotherapy sessions.


Specialized Recovery at Equinox

Rediscovering LISS:
Modern Yoga & Pilates


Yoga has taken on a variety of forms in the past (including Power Yoga, Flow Yoga, Yogilates, Hot Yoga, Rocket Yoga, and many others) as well as on-demand videos and books. And the same has happened with Pilates (like Mat, Reformer, Stott or Winsor Pilates).

This type of LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) activity is is in high demand in reaction to the pandemic, because people are looking to relax while toning up their body. And it continues diversifying, as aerial Yoga (practised suspended in the air), fatial Yoga (training focused on the face) or Eye-Yoga (movements that claim to strengthen and condition the muscles in the eye structure) corroborate. Also, practicing Pilates in specific machines (Reformer, Cadillac or Ladder Barrel) is gaining some popularity, and Equinox or the Reebok Sports Club, are already offering rooms full of such machines. And Third Space offers a lot of Yoga/Pilates types (Rocket Yoga, Barre Burn, Dynamic Pilates…).


Pilates Workshop at Lanserhof

Redifining HIIT:
Improving the experience

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a fitness phenomenon. It’s taken the world by storm over the past decade and shows no sign of slowing down in popularity with the public or efficacy for exercise results. The main reason why it is so popular, it’s because it’s fun and results-driven at the same time as the sessions are, by definition, short but very intense.

Burning up the maximum of calories in the minimum time as possible is the next level in public demand. Therefore, other formats are emerging under the same philosophy, such as HIIS (High Intensity Interval Skipping) which involves short, sharp bursts of skipping, or Micro-HIIT which is essentially a HIIT workout where you push yourself harder than you normally would over the course of fewer repetitions (less than 15 minutes).

Reebok Sports Club focuses on improving the experience with a HIIT classes in a pub atmosphere, and so does Barry’s, which also offers a HIIT variant without running. Saints & Stars has a boxing class combined with HIIT, and BXR London has rooms full of HIIT machines called ‘Versaclimbing’ that can be used on their own or in a class.


Holy Box by Saints & Stars

Holistic wellness:
Bringing out the best in you

People are increasingly looking for centres where they can look after their health and appearance at all levels. And as they are not experts in every area, they want to be guided throught the process. Health/Wellness coaching is a trend that integrates behavioral science into health promotion and lifestyle medicine programs. It uses a one-on-one (and at times small group) approach with the coach providing support, goal setting, guidance, and encouragement, focusing on the client’s values, needs, and vision though behaviour change intervention strategies.

Also, related to this topic, there is an incresing practice based on helping individuals and families adopt and sustain healthy behaviours that affect health and quality of life. Called ‘Lifestyle Medicine’, it promotes healthy behaviours as the foundation to medical care, disease prevention, and health promotion.

In today’s gyms, this typically takes the form of medical treatment (already discussed in the analysis), nutrition (later), health care and beauty services. For example Equinox and Saints & Stars offer mental health care services, such as sleepcoaching or coaching for stress reduction and hormonal profiling respectively. Also Equinox, offers skin care and fatial treatments, while Reebok Sports Club includes aesthetic treatments, aesthetic medicine and wellness, hairdressing services. Third Space provides IV infusions, manicures and pedicures, laser and gentlemen’s treatments.


The Spa at Equinox

Phygital approach:
Complementary virtual gym

Because of COVID-19 many gyms had to close for a large period of time and were forced to find new ways to reach their customers. Online training uses digital streaming technology to deliver group, individual, or instructional exercise programs in live streaming or prerecorded accesible from anywhere 24/7.

Virtual training is another variant, and it was defined as the fusion of group exercise with technology offering workouts designed for ease and convenience to suit schedules and needs. Typically, virtual workouts are played in gyms on the big screen, and although they attract less public compared with live classes, they are more adaptable for different types of clients and look more accesible to training novices, where they can learn the moves at their own pace.

Nowadays, gyms are developing mobile or multidevice exercise apps with both audio and visual prompts to begin, continue and end exercise, tracking progress over time, booking in-door classes, and of course, access to the virtual/online ones.

Barry’s has two separate apps, one for the reservation, schedules and general stuff, and another one specific for training, with HealthKit integrated for tracking data. Equinox has one too, with all of its different types of training, and Third Space besides its app, offers medical indications via online too.


Barry’s X App on iPad and Apple Watch

Listening to your body:
A new way to eat

To achieve the best results, training must always be accompanied by a diet that complements it, adapting caloric intake to the physical activity that is going to be performed. This is in addition to the fact that more and more people are becoming aware of what they eat, with initiatives such as real food, mindful eating and intuitive eating. Restrictive diets are no longer the most trendy way of eating.

Mindful eating encourages people to pay attention to the food as they buy, prepare and consume it. This also involves choosing foods that are nutritionally healthy, removing distractions while eating and stopping when feeling full. However, intuitive eating focuses on hunger signals by rejecting the diet mentality fully so people don’t feel guilty with eating. It therefore provides people with a better understanding of their body and improves their long-term psychological health.

Thus, gyms are taking advantage of these movements by offering various nutrition services among their proposals. E by Equinox offers healthy food and beverages in its clubs while Barry’s proposes some fitness products that are the result of various collaborations with other brands on its website. Saints & Stars offers special coaching for nutrition and Third Space has a partnered service of nutrition meals with delivery. BXR London takes it to the next level with its resort ‘Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas’, a kind of retreat with fixed schedules of training, activities and meals per trips.


Dining at Daios Cove Luxury Resort & Villas

Going one step further:
Maximizing exercise results

With our very busy lifestyles, people are looking to get the best results in the short time they have available to exercise. That’s why they need the knowledge of experts in the field, which is why hiring fully qualified and accredited health and fitness professionals is becoming crucially important. In fact, some gyms are launching their own training programmes with certifications.

They are also looking for new activities that will maximise their capabilities or some kind of technological resource that will enhance their performance. Dry-surfing is a very complete exercise performed on a mechanised surfboard with automated movements and is gaining some popularity in the rehabilitation field. Similarly, there are new machines (such as the Reaxing line) that simulate extreme outdoor workouts using ‘Sudden Impulse Technology’ and also stimulate cognitive perception, or devices that boost muscle development in a particular area of the body when doing sport (such as SixPad).

Within this trend, Reebok Sports Club has developed a suspension training room, while Saint & Stars does it with classes dedicated exclusively to one part of the body (booty building class). Finally, Third Space offers a Treadmill designed in collaboration with an Olympic sprinter and BXR London has ‘ambassadors’, who are trainers of stars and elite athletes who periodically offer their services.


Reax Board by Reaxing

All this exploration of trends that will completely transform the world of fitness was of vital importance to us when defining the experience in our THE I/O project. In it, we try to change the perception of a conventional gym to elevate the space to a broader concept, as a holistic fitness and health center.

For this reason, THE I/O is constantly carrying out actions that complement training, such as collaborations with gourmet restaurants to hold food and wine tastings and give outs of natural shakes at the end of classes. They use the latest technology in machines and constantly search for new formats and sessions, body care and beauty treatments, live entertainment and the best professionals in charge of designing and teaching the classes.

If you want to know more about the project you can see the case study or you can follow THE I/O here.


Interior spaces at THE I/O


Everyday metaverses

Thoughts on the hype.