The same way that Jane Fonda’s iconic VHS workout and “The Richard Simmons Show” are synonymous with the 80s, and the 90s conjures images of Suzanne Somers’ ThighMaster and step aerobics, the 2010s will be remembered for Peloton bikes, activity trackers and social networks devoted to fitness.
While people are still working out in gyms (one in five Americans still belong to at least one health club or studio, according to a 2019 study) and “boutique” fitness studios like Orange Theory or Pure Barre, the defining fitness trends were toward working out at home, using high-tech equipment and building community through dedicated fitness social networks.
For millennials who are accustomed to instant gratification and spend more time at home than other generations, home workouts are an appealing way to get active, connect with like-minded individuals and save money.
To close out the end of this decade, here’s how the biggest fitness trends and innovations have changed the way that people work out at home:
2010: P90X brings personal training home
Chances are you’ve seen Tony Horton, personal trainer and creator of P90X, in an infomercial before. In 2005, his signature 90-day workout program called P90X launched and became a phenomenon. By 2010, P90X made up half of parent company Beach Body’s sales, and the franchise was worth $20 million, CNBC reported in 2010.
“We just found a right formula,” Horton tells CNBC Make It. P90X is a 12-workout DVD program that incorporates bodyweight exercises, plyometrics (jumping exercises) and yoga. “We devised something you could do in front of your TV with a couple dumbbells and bands, and thus the revolution began,” Horton says. Today, you can stream the P90X workouts online through Beach Body’s on-demand platform, which costs $39.95 for three months. And though DVD players seem obsolete, you can still buy the P90X DVD package for $119.95, which also includes a nutrition plan and fitness calendar.
The success of P90X also led Beach Body to release more DVD programs, most notably Insanity. The popular 60-day total-body workout program was created by dancer and trainer Shaun T and marketed as “the hardest workout ever put on DVD.”
2014: Kayla Itsines ushers in the age of fitness influencers
In 2009, Kayla Itsines was a personal trainer in Adelaide, Australia, going to women’s homes for quick personal training sessions with no grander plans for a business. Instagram was barely on her radar.
Today, Itsines’ company is reportedly bringing in tens of millions of dollars, and the fitness influencer has 11.9 million followers on the platform.
Itsines’ big break came in 2014, when she released a workout e-book, called Bikini Body Guide, that people could download in PDF form. “I wanted something that was specifically for women,” Itsines tells CNBC Make It. “I noticed trends: Women were time poor, and they wanted something they could do at home.” The workouts were all 28 minutes long and designed to be done at the gym or at home.
Itsines started uploading client transformation photos to Instagram, and “it took off,” Itsines says. She credits the growth to her close-knit and engaged community on social media. “We never thought we could reach people on a global scale,” she says. “We wouldn’t be able to do that if it wasn’t for platforms like Instagram and Facebook.” The hashtag used by Itsines’ “Bikini Body” community, #BBG, currently has more than 7 million posts tagged on Instagram.
The success of the e-book inspired Itsines to create a workout app, called Sweat, in 2018. The app, which costs $19.99 a month to use, ended the 2018 Australian Financial Year with $75.5 million AUD ($51.4 million USD) in revenue, a representative for Sweat tells CNBC.
2015: Activity trackers become must-have accessories
In the 2010s, the hottest accessories weren’t luxury watches or smartwatches, but wearable activity trackers. The Fitbit Flex, Jawbone Up and the Nike Fuelband were some of the first products on the market, followed by the more advanced Apple Watch. The premise was simple: a wristband continuously measures your daily activity, sleep and workouts. Before trackers, people relied on gym scales and clunky heartrate monitors to access health metrics, but suddenly information was at people’s fingertips in attractive devices.
There’s such thing as “too much” information, though. While fitness trackers are helpful motivational tools for people who hope to increase their physical activity, studies suggest that wearing fitness trackers doesn’t provide any advantage over other weight loss approaches. (And studies found that some activity trackers are inaccurate, or “markedly overestimate” activity intensity.) Other research has shown that people tend to ditch fitness trackers after about 129 days of using them.
This fact hasn’t stopped people from buying into the trend. An estimated 245 million wearables were sold in 2019, which is three times the amount that were sold in 2015, according to the research firm CSS Insight. Fitness trackers today look very different than they did a decade ago. For example, the Oura Ring is a smart ring that focuses on tracking sleep as well as activity (though experts question it’s accuracy). Twitter CEO and founder Jack Dorsey is also a fan of the $299 device.
Investors are also betting on wearable trackers; in November, Google acquired Fitbit for $2.1 billion.
2018: Mirror takes workouts high tech
As a new mom, Brynn Putnam, CEO and founder of Mirror, found herself time-strapped and uninspired by home workouts. A lifelong dancer, Putnam thought using a mirror as a portal for at-home workouts would be a better option than YouTube or stationary equipment. “It has a slim footprint, is a piece of beautiful home decor when not in use and produces an immersive experience with interactive visuals and sound,” she tells CNBC Make It.
Mirror, which launched in 2018, is an interactive fitness tool that allows you to stream a variety of workouts right onto the floor-length mirror. The device itself costs $1,495, and access to the workouts costs $39 a month.
As of 2018, Mirror raised $38 million in venture funding. To date, Mirror has sold tens of thousands of devices in every state, Putnam told CNBC’s “Squak Alley” in November. And in October, Mirror introduced $40 personal training sessions: thanks to the camera and microphone built into the mirror, users can receive real-time feedback on their form.
2019: Peloton builds a cult-like community
Unicorn fitness company Peloton is best known for its at-home stationary bikes and treadmills, which allow users to stream thousands of indoor cycling and running classes from trainers in New York City. The company sold its first stationary bike in 2013, and today they have more than 572,000 “connected fitness subscribers” (aka Peloton paid users) globally and over 1.6 million members, a Peloton representative tells CNBC Make It.
Like other indoor cycling franchises, such as SoulCycle and Flywheel, Peloton has attracted a very devoted following of riders and super fans. The Peloton member page on Facebook, which was started by a member in 2015, currently has 207,000 members. On average, Peloton sees hundreds of posts, thousands of comments and tens of thousands of reactions each day on the group. (Celebrities also use the home streaming service, including Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and billionaire Richard Branson.)
In September, Peloton went public with its more than $7 billion debut on Nasdaq. In December, the brand faced backlash when an advertisement featuring a woman who receives a bike as a gift went viral. Many people said the ad was sexist, and the brand told CNBC in a statement that it was “disappointed in how some misinterpreted this commercial.” Peloton’s stock fell 9% on Dec. 3, two days after the ad made its rounds on the internet, though the market was down 1% overall.
In 2020, Peloton hopes to boost their connected fitness subscribers to 885,000 to 895,000, CNBC reported from an earnings call in November 2019. The company also projected an expected revenue of $1.45 billion to $1.5 billion by the end of 2020, CNBC reported.
2020 and beyond
In 2020, wearable technology will be the No. 1 trend in fitness, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. That includes fitness trackers, smart health watches, heart rate monitors and GPS tracking devices.
And boutique workouts are currently the fastest-growing segment of the market, because they provide a sense of camaraderie, says Meredith Poppler, a spokesperson for the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. Clubs will continue to position themselves as “not only places to exercise but places of community and connection,” she says, and to that end, clubs are investing in connected equipment (treadmills, bikes and apps).
Mobile workout apps that coach users through a workout, on the other hand, may not have as much staying power, according to the ACSM survey.
A trend to look out for is personalized workouts based on individual biometric data. Some companies already scratching the surface: Tonal, a streaming platform and at-home resistance-training system, uses A.I. to learn how strong you are and your individualized movement patterns. The system can sense when you build strength, and automatically adjusts the amount of weight used as you progress. And Technogym’s Biocircuit strength-training machines, automatically adjust the posture settings based on user data and will record the number of repetitions completed.
Disclosure: CNBC parent Comcast-NBCUniversal is an investor in Peloton.
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