Matthew Januszek, Co-founder and CEO of Escape Fitness

In business since 1998, UK-based gym equipment manufacturer Escape Fitness depends on a deep understanding of trends in the global fitness industry to stay ahead of the curve.

But, as co-founder and CEO Matthew Januszek shares with us, much of the industry is still plagued by outdated thinking on gym design, marketing, and technology.

How do shifting preferences across at-home, in-person, and hybrid workouts shape your offering?

Matthew Januszek: We’ve noticed that the increase in home workouts has influenced the potential over-saturation in cardio exercises like rowing, cycling and running.

In response, we’re seeing that people are coming back to brick-and-mortar clubs, gyms and studios with much less interest in doing cardio exercise and demanding exercise that they can’t do at home. In particular, this is only contributing to the rise in popularity of strength training.

How do you maintain your value proposition through shifting expectations for health & fitness?

MJ: We’re quite fortunate in that for the last six years, we have built up what is now one of the industry’s leading podcasts, the Escape Your Limits Podcast.

There, the team and I work hard to understand what is going on within the fitness industry worldwide by lining up a guest list of fitness, health and well-being industry experts hailing from the Middle East, Central Europe, UK and America to provide us with an insightful, balanced view on what is happening across the globe.

We also study a lot of the subject matter of these conversations in depth, building upon these to give us the data, information and feedback to place quite big bets (for a company of our size) on our future product development.

And we’re not selfish with this; we share this knowledge through the podcast with everybody in the industry so that they’re able to make their own decisions based on what the leading people in the health and fitness space are doing.

How do you approach marketing, new partnerships and growth efforts aimed at reaching more consumers?

MJ: It’s certainly time to rethink marketing; the industry—Escape included—has been guilty of using fairly out-of-date marketing methods to reach consumers.

I’m not saying that some of those traditional methods aren’t still valuable, but for us, we decided to invest less in traditional marketing like advertising and branding and instead are investing in our own type of content which is tailored to reach a busy consumer wherever they are.

In doing this, we believe that a rising tide will lift all boats. Getting the message out there about living healthier, longer and therefore happier lifestyles is key, and our approach is to use technology, genuinely provide value and stay in people’s minds.

What developments are on the roadmap for the next six months?

MJ: We’ve seen a lot of gyms struggling to keep personal trainers on the gym floor, and with the cost of trainers going up, some are entering a situation where they have no trainers at all.

This comes during a time when more people want to do strength training, functional training and movements that aren’t always self-explanatory.

That’s why we’re continuing to expand on the digital side of our business. For example, through our MARS screens – which offer innovative digital 24/7 coaching – we’re bridging the gap between equipment and education so that anyone and everyone can tap into a digital coach to train effectively and safely.

We’ve also recently entered into a partnership with recovery tech brand Hyperice, as we have seen more people wanting support on recovery and pre- and post-workout mobility training.

And, something to watch for in early 2024, we have something very exciting coming on the strength side which doesn’t exist yet in the industry…

What consumer trends are you most excited about in 2024 & beyond?

MJ: It’s an exciting time to be in the industry. Although many of us have been through an extremely tough time in recent years, if you’re able to take a medium- to long-term approach, there’s an opportunity to evolve to be at the forefront of where the market is now moving.

For us, that’s digital, it’s strength, and we’re looking forward to getting deeper into recovery.

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