Would COVID-19 change how we look at things even after it is over? I’m not sure about you, but it changed how I look at public places, including the one place I go to 5 days a week.

A quick search on google recommend the following for a good hygiene habit at the gym

  • Wash your hands. It sounds obvious, but do you wash every time? ...
  • Sanitize if you can't wash. If you don't have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based sanitizer. ...
  • Germ-proof gym equipment. ...
  • Shower ASAP. ...
  • Protect your feet. ...
  • Be skin-conscious. ...
  • Don't share personal care items.

Fitness Market

The fitness market is $25B, with more than 55 million Americans belong to a GYM. 2/3 of people who exercise do some form of exercise at home.

The fastest-growing segment of the market is the boutique fitness studios gym, where users are paying a premium to access higher quality classes, instructions, and experience.

Over 62.5 million Americans belonged to at least one health club, many of whom hold memberships to both ‘traditional’ and ’boutique’ facilities.

People will switch to Home GYM, even after COVID-19 is over

Understanding human biases, and how experiences that have direct negative or positive impact affects the lenses by which we see the world, makes me wonder, how are we looking at hygiene in general, and the GYM in specific. The effect might be temporary, such as the one you get when you taste a bad food at a restaurant, or it could be deeper than that, buried in your subconscious, affecting how you look at things at a fundamental level. I believe there is a window after all of this is over, and before people start switching back to their normal habits, for a better experience, better tools, and better service offered by a good home GYM experience.

Think about it, we are home, and we are trying to adjust, and most of us will find a way to exercise at home and maybe get the same results as we do at the gym. When all of this is over, how many of us will go back to the gym? It is hard to tell, but I would argue it is going to be less than what it used to be. Here are some of the reasons why I think this is true:

  1. We figured something out, alternative behaviors, to going to the gym. Those behaviors challenged our assumptions and motivations about going to a public GYM.
  2. How clean is your GYM? People will become more aware of the hygiene issue

I think people will switch to :

  1. Exercising in public using their equipment, even in group settings.
  2. Exercising at home, especially if they can get a similar experience. like attending a class
  3. Let’s face it, some people don’t care and will go back to attending the GYM

Smart Home Gym

Full disclaimer, I do not own a smart gym at the moment, but I’m planning to get one very soon.

To simulate a real GYM, but without the hygiene issues, the home GYM should provide the following

  1. Become part of the daily routine
  2. Encourage you to exercise and stay in shape
  3. Show-off your new gears, cloths, and your progress
  4. Help you to interact with other people - socializing

Many companies started building product to provide an excellent Home GYM experience, here is a list of the ones I found while searching online:

New Innovative product

  1. Tonal
  2. Formelife
  3. Mirror
  4. fightcamp
  5. Peloton
  6. TEMPO
  7. hydrow.com
  8. https://www.ergatta.com/
  9. otarimats.com
  10. https://echelonfit.com
  11. Otari

Portable Products

  1. MAXPRO
  2. HYFIT

Traditional but enhanced Products

  1. Nordictrack (Iconhealth company)
  2. ECHELON
  3. https://echelonfit.com/
  4. Bowflex SelectTech 560 Dumbbells

This is not an exhaustive list, but those are the most interesting to me at the time of writing this post. My criteria to find a great home gym product was simple:

  1. It should look amazing - I love looking at products well designed. I’m biased
  2. Provide real feedback while exercising
  3. Provide great experience
  4. Smart: Smart could mean a lot of things; in my case, it is either one or more of the following:
    1. Coach AI: An AI coach teaching you how to do things and make sure you do it that way (feedback loop)2. Track your body movement, heart rate, and many other things. Using other sensors or camera technology3. Adjust weights electronically

Challenges for Home SMART GYMs to go mainstream

  1. Switching cost is high, you have to pay for the Smart Home GYM device, and then a monthly subscription.
  2. The monthly subscription for most of them is similar to what you would pay for a GYM membership.

Target Customer Segment

We can segment this market in many ways, but for the sake of this discussion, I will segment them this way:

  1. Attending classes
  2. Free weight training with a friend (or alone)
  3. Hire a coach to get in shape

SMART Home GYM Ecosystem

SMART home gym might disrupt the fitness industry completely, to achieve that, the SMART HOME Gym need to overcome a few challenges

  1. Switching cost: the cost of the machines is high. It is the price of the machine and then monthly subscription that is like or more than a GYM monthly subscription
  2. There is another segment that is not served using these machines, mainly young demographic and their instructors. Take my daughter, for example, she is seven years old, and she is using Zoom now to take ballet classes.
  3. Trainer’s of the SMART GYM: it seems that most of the SMART GYM hires or contract professional trainers to provide classes. Some are using Coach AI. That means that the trainer needs to buy the machine if they open it up for anyone to teach classes in the future. What about trainers that can’t afford this? Or if they can’t get on the platform?
  4. It seems that SMART GYM devices that try to replace the existing boutique fitness studios gym experience are targeting high-income individuals

Opportunities to create a SMART HOME GYM ecosystem

  1. For trainers
    1. Any trainer can get on the platform and can teach with a low switching cost2. Trainers can personalize the experience for participants as much as possible.3. Allow trainers to conduct one on one4. Electronically track create and track progress: training programs, diets, etc.
  2. For participants
    1. Any student can use the platform with low switching cost2. The experience should be comparable to a real GYM experience or close enough. Compensating with new experiences to cover the lack of some is expected. 3. Open system: Allow integrations between this system and other systems/apps. This will help the participants track all information in one place and will also help trainers and coaches to track a participant’s progress.

Proposed Solution to disrupt the Fitness Market

There are many solutions to solve the above problems, but here is one that I liked. I will list the constraints first, then the proposed solution:

  1. Build a low-cost solution, use existing products such as a smartphone. Optional additional devices that might enhance the experience should be offered, but not required.
  2. Allow trainers to offer individual or group training
  3. Provide trainers with helpful data before, during, and after the sessions
  4. Provide online scheduling tools
  5. Provide online fitness training tools. This could be achieved through integrations with existing devices and tools such as a scale, tracking devices, etc

This is not an app that users can use to improve; this is mainly focused on allowing trainers to provide GYM level training to individuals or groups while staying home.

Solution

A simple solution could be an app that a trainer can download to:

  1. Setup an account
  2. Schedule and conduct individual and group sessions
  3. Allow the trainer to track and interact with class attendance. This is the tricky part
  4. Build an audience and followers
  5. Collect payment

Allow participants to

  1. Setup an account
  2. Search and enroll in classes
  3. Take classes
  4. Provide the trainer with live information on Body movement and form

Special video conferencing tool that to provide the trainer with data about the class participants

  1. Use camera technology to track body movement and send the data back to the trainer
  2. Allow the trainer to consume this information easily while giving the class

To mimic the social experience of a gym

  1. Allow participants to socialize before or after
  2. Allow participants to take pictures and share them on social media
  3. Group pictures: allow all participants, especially those in the picture to approve it (privacy and stuff)

Other Design ideas

  1. Allow participants to take pictures and selfies and let you share them
  2. An open platform for people to design camera apps
  3. Create a new social platform, open for all
  4. Video recording if needed
  5. See other people in realtime
  6. Compete with other people in realtime
  7. Attend group classes
    1. Open new opportunities to create the Master Trainer GYM2. Host group sessions 3. Better camera quality 4. Allow to track individuals and how they are performing5. Use the camera to analyze their moment,
  8. Integration with other tools such as scales, watches