2021 The Year Of Hybrid Fitness, Predict ClassPass & Mindbody

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  • One in four professionals are exercising more now than at the start of COVID-19
  • Yoga was the top digital workout of 2020, with HIIT the top in-person workout of the year, while outdoor fitness classes surged by 400% 
  • 12pm on weekdays and 10am on weekends was the most popular time to work out
  • Pure Barre (New York City), Love and Alchemy (LA) and BLOK (London) have proven most popular for digital classes since the start of the pandemic 
  • Wellness and beauty treatments spiked by 25% following the US presidential election
  • 92% hope to return to fitness studios and gyms in 2021, with 40% planning to return exclusively to in-studio workouts 

NEW YORK CITY, United States — Fitness and wellness aggregator ClassPass has released its annual report, spotlighting the leading trends observed in a year rocked to its foundations by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Most promisingly, especially given 95% of fitness studios around the world were forced to shut their physical spaces due to coronavirus, the report found that one in four people are exercising more now than at the start of the outbreak. 

The company’s insights, compiled from 30,000 boutique studios, gyms, spas and wellness partners across 30 countries, also reveals which studios and types of workouts best transitioned online. And, why, 2021 will be “the year of hybrid fitness” —  a prediction shared by leading voices at both ClassPass and wellness platform Mindbody.

“An incredibly challenging year”
Commenting on the report, Kinsey Livingston, ClassPass VP of Partnerships said: “2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for the fitness community, but it has also been one that reflects the grit, resilience and creativity of the industry. 

“Fitness fans have continued to show up to class, whether virtually, distanced in parks or back in studios,” she told Welltodo.

“One of the biggest changes we saw this year was a shift to daytime workouts as many people began working from home and fitness fans prioritised outdoor workouts. With many new companies investing in corporate wellness benefits, lunchtime sweat sessions have become the norm with professionals.” 

She added: “We have also seen a big increase in the number of ClassPass members booking beauty and wellness services as members have looked for ways to balance self-care outside of exercise.” 

Here we run through some of the key trends highlighted in the report.

COVID-secure outdoor workouts surged 400%
The report found that while 81% of ClassPass customers tried digital workouts, outdoor fitness classes have emerged as a new trend in their own right. 

Outdoor classes saw a 400% increase, with US luxury chain Equinox leading the way on both the East and West coasts, while four in five reported a willingness to attend these classes in the future. 

The ClassPass report found residents of Los Angeles in the US and Edinburgh in the UK ranked most likely to exercise outdoors, with New Yorkers and Londoners most likely to stream their workouts on-demand. 

2021 The Year Of Hybrid-Fitness, Predict ClassPass & Mindbody

Image: ClassPass

Yoga is the most popular digital workout of 2020
According to ClassPass’ report, yoga rose in popularity by 25% to be the top digital workout of 2020, and most popular for someone taking their first Livestream class, followed by High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Pilates. 

That trend was also reflected in the studios that have proven the most popular for digital classes since the start of the pandemic: Pure Barre in New York City, Love and Alchemy in LA, BLOK in London and Equal Yoga in Amsterdam were the big winners. 

With yoga and bodyweight workouts the common thread, Oncore (London), Chez Simone (Paris), Saints & Stars and Delight Yoga (Amsterdam) and Mo’s Bootcamp (NYC) also proved adept at transitioning online. 

HIIT is the most popular in-person workout of 2020
The demand for in-person studio and gym classes remains strong, with HIIT the top in-person workout of 2020, followed by indoor cycling and reformer Pilates in both the US and UK. 

According to a separate study conducted by ClassPass last month, which surveyed 2,185 people from 19 countries, 92% of professionals hope to return to fitness studios and gyms in 2021, with 40% planning to return exclusively to in-studio workouts when they feel safe to do so. 

Almost nine in 10 said they would go back as frequently, or more so, to future indoor fitness classes. 

The US election triggered a wave of wellness treatments
ClassPass also reported a spike in wellness and beauty treatments following the presidential election in the US. Stress-relieving beauty and wellness appointments were up by 25% in the three days after the ballots closed. 

The most booked appointments were massages, facials and nail treatments. The urgent demand for post-lockdown haircuts also increased by 82%. 

“Massages and manicures have become the perfect Sunday treat for people who feel comfortable with 1:1 spa services, and meditation is a popular way to destress with bookings up by 19%,” Livingston said. 

Image: ClassPass

Corporate wellness is now a must-have
With one in four professionals exercising more now than at the start of COVID-19, ClassPass believes corporate wellness benefits have now become a must-have for companies to support their staff. 

Its report found that 96% of professionals say they feel more motivated and less stressed after exercising, with 89% of professionals saying they feel more productive during the workday after exercising. 

“Since the start of the pandemic, ClassPass has offered remote fitness benefits to one million employees across companies of all sizes,” read a statement from ClassPass, released with the trend report. 

“The interest from companies is continuing to grow, and we expect fitness and wellness benefits to be more important than ever in attracting and retaining talent.” 

2021 will be the year of hybrid fitness
While ClassPass’ data suggests fitness fans have overwhelmingly embraced digital workouts, Livingston believes members are eager to reintroduce equipment-heavy classes back into their routine as soon as it’s safe to do so. 

“Looking into the year ahead, we expect many fitness fans to mix at-home workouts with in-studio classes,” she told Welltodo. 

“60% of our members say they will continue with a hybrid of digital and at-home workouts in 2021, so it’s likely they may lean into digital classes such as yoga and HIIT that require little or no equipment and return to studios for classes that are tough to replicate at home.” 

And based on Mindbody’s own findings, the prediction appears to be shared across the industry. “2021 will be the year of hybrid fitness,” Phil Coxon, Managing Director EMEA told Welltodo.

Adding: “We surveyed consumers in September and found that although they have missed in-person classes greatly, 75% said they’d continue taking virtual classes in addition to returning to their studios once the pandemic is over.

According to Coxon: “Consumers love the affordability and accessibility of online classes and this has been proven by the skyrocketing demand we have seen for our virtual wellness platform.” 

However, he’s hopeful that as life returns to normal in 2021, virtual classes and content will continue to grow in popularity.

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