BREAKING NEWS : Mayor Tom Henry issues statement amid hostile downtown Fort Wayne protests Full Story
BREAKING NEWS : Fort Wayne SWAT spraying, throwing tear gas at George Floyd protesters Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

The $94 billion fitness industry is reinventing itself as Covid-19 spreads

Article Image

Live streaming classes. Virtual personal training. The $94 billion fitness industry is adapting to the new realities of social distancing to combat Covid-19. Watch the latest videos on Covid-19.

Posted: Apr 2, 2020 6:10 AM
Updated: Apr 2, 2020 6:10 AM

As the coronavirus continues to spread, fitness studios around the country are shutting their doors and adjusting to a new reality. The sudden shift has inspired creativity and flexibility for gyms and studios, which are largely dependent on physical locations and on-site staff.

The changes have rocked the fitness industry, which was worth $94 billion in 2018, according to The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association.

Some studios -- such as Modo Yoga, which has locations in the United States, Canada, Australia and France -- are offering free classes on Instagram Live. Other studios, including SoulCycle, closed all of its locations globally, hoping to reopen when conditions improve and the curve flattens. The cult-favorite cycling studio doesn't have any online classes, but bikes are available for pre-order with a price tag of $2,500, and the company will release on-demand virtual classes later this year.

And as gyms and boutique fitness studios continue to close, fitness instructors are getting creative and amping up their side hustles.

"I've still been training clients that live in my building, though we've been using Lysol and in some cases latex gloves to be safe," Julie Verhage, a group fitness instructor at Equinox, said. Verhage also said that startups are reaching out to her and asking her to lead virtual workouts "so they can still have team bonding while everyone is working remotely."

Video classes

ClassPass, a subscription service that partners with local boutique fitness classes, launched live workouts: More than 500 studios have added live, bookable classes to the platform, and 100% of livestream proceeds go directly to the studios.

The company is also encouraging users to donate directly to their favorite studios through the ClassPass app, and the company is matching $1 million in donations.

A library of more than 2,000 pre-recorded audio and video workouts are also available for free -- without subscription -- on the ClassPass website.

"The COVID-19 global pandemic has presented a challenge unlike any other that the health and wellness industry has seen," ClassPass CEO Fritz Lanman said in a statement. "Almost 90% of our 30,000 gym, studio and wellness partners across 30 countries have indefinitely closed their physical locations."

Jessica Goldman opened Dance Forever Studio in Chicago in 2005, but she recently closed her studio amid coronavirus concerns.

"In the long term, the coronavirus will dilute the brick and mortar fitness industry model," Goldman told CNN Business in an email, adding that "in an already crowded industry, the coronavirus will set the successful apart from the mediocre."

The disruption is pervasive

Small studios are getting hit hard. In the hopes of reopening after closure, yoga studios like Sacred -- with locations in Brooklyn in Manhattan -- are charging $10 for virtual classes on Zoom. But some of the small studios probably won't recover, according to Nathan Forster, CEO of NEOU, an on-demand fitness video platform. "I hope many of them can make it back, but there will definitely be some that don't," he told CNN Business in an email.

Even big companies like Flywheel are trying to figure out how to navigate the financial hit to its business. On March 20, in a plea for money, the company sent an email to members, encouraging them to unfreeze their membership and continue paying a monthly fee even though the brick-and-mortar locations were closing. In March, the cycling company shut down the virtual classes that are connected to its in-home bikes, and Peloton is letting Flywheel customers swap out their bikes for a used Peloton bike for free.

Many studios are creating YouTube video workouts in an effort to keep their clientele entertained and active. Cult-favorite HIIT studio Orange Theory, for instance, is sharing a free 30-minute workout on its website every day.

It's not a smooth road for the studios that aren't accustomed to being primarily digital. Boston rowing studio The Row House offers a variety of free live-streamed classes on Facebook, but you can only participate in the classes if you have a rowing machine at home.

To bridge the gap, the company is offering members 60 days of free access to on-demand content for other fitness studios that share the same parent brand, Xponential Fitness, including Pilates, barre and yoga classes.

Who benefits

Meanwhile, virtual and digital fitness companies are benefiting from the industry shift. MIRROR, an interactive at-home fitness system that sells for $1,495 and looks like a full-length mirror, has seen an increase in sales.

"Sales have more than doubled since the advent of Covid-19," MIRROR CEO Brynn Jinnett Putnam told CNN Business in an email. She added that MIRROR's team has been "working around the clock to launch our digital product earlier than originally planned."

But it's not all uphill for primarily online fitness brands. MIRROR and Peloton both have brick-and-mortar studios. MIRROR closed its three showrooms -- one in New York City, one in Los Angeles, and one in Stanford California -- and Peloton closed its New York and London studios to the public, but the company will "continue to produce live content without an audience," according to a statement from Peloton's co-founder and CEO John Foley.

For online-only fitness services like Obé, business is booming. The service gives members unlimited access to 14 live classes a day and 4,000+ on-demand classes. It costs $27 per month or $199 per year.

Co-founders Mark Mullett and Ashley Mills said sales are soaring.

"We have seen a considerable increase in membership across the US in the last few weeks," he told CNN Business in an email. With an increasing number of parents and kids staying home, Obé released content for kids in partnership with KidzBop.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 33068

Reported Deaths: 2068
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9524558
Lake3494175
Cass15897
Allen141966
St. Joseph122134
Hendricks114268
Hamilton113292
Elkhart110128
Johnson1092106
Madison58459
Porter50522
Bartholomew49034
Clark47941
LaPorte42022
Tippecanoe3823
Howard37824
Delaware37636
Jackson3721
Shelby36822
Hancock32727
Floyd31739
Boone30535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2592
Montgomery23417
White2308
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Noble20421
Grant19721
Dubois1903
Harrison18921
Henry16910
Greene16824
Monroe16512
Warrick16528
Dearborn16521
Vigo1538
Lawrence15223
Miami1401
Putnam1357
Jennings1294
Orange12422
Scott1203
Ripley1106
Franklin1098
Kosciusko1011
Carroll933
Daviess8416
Steuben812
Marshall801
Newton7610
Wayne756
Fayette747
Wabash742
LaGrange682
Jasper661
Washington511
Jay490
Fulton471
Clay461
Rush452
Randolph453
Jefferson431
Pulaski410
Whitley383
Owen351
Sullivan341
DeKalb331
Brown331
Starke323
Perry280
Wells270
Benton260
Huntington262
Knox250
Tipton241
Crawford230
Blackford222
Parke190
Spencer191
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Posey160
Gibson142
Adams131
Ohio130
Warren121
Vermillion100
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0161

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 33915

Reported Deaths: 2098
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin5566253
Cuyahoga4211226
Marion264225
Hamilton2555135
Lucas2178240
Pickaway204836
Mahoning1397173
Summit1335172
Butler84728
Stark70591
Columbiana68451
Lorain66759
Montgomery63717
Trumbull55147
Belmont41212
Miami35230
Warren35119
Tuscarawas3373
Ashtabula32434
Portage31857
Medina31322
Delaware31013
Lake29012
Wood28246
Geauga27231
Wayne26049
Fairfield2515
Clark2345
Licking22210
Allen20632
Clermont2025
Mercer2016
Richland1933
Erie1656
Darke16221
Madison1487
Washington11819
Crawford1103
Morrow1041
Greene1015
Ottawa9312
Putnam8814
Monroe7512
Sandusky7211
Hocking694
Ross672
Jefferson662
Auglaize653
Huron561
Williams511
Hancock512
Union491
Muskingum480
Clinton430
Hardin420
Shelby403
Fayette390
Wyandot382
Logan370
Fulton370
Coshocton370
Guernsey340
Defiance332
Preble331
Carroll303
Lawrence290
Holmes291
Brown281
Champaign271
Knox231
Highland221
Seneca202
Vinton192
Ashland190
Athens181
Perry181
Henry150
Scioto150
Jackson130
Paulding130
Harrison100
Adams81
Gallia71
Van Wert60
Pike60
Meigs60
Noble50
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Scattered Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 63°
Angola
Scattered Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 61°
Huntington
Few Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 63°
Decatur
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 64°
Van Wert
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 64°
Sunny & Pleasant Weekend
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events