Fitness Business Competition Vs. Collaboration

Choosing to write this article today with the offical launch of the platform FitWell is genuinely pure coincidence! I will come back around to FitWell shortly, because I really want to dive into my view of the current state of the fitness industry. If you are constantly wondering why the fitness industry is one of the most competitive markets out there, you are probably asking the same questions I am.

This image really captures what I am feeling from the industry currently. The top picture indicating all the different streams of fitness that are currently on offer. Think big box, boutique fitness, PT, small group training and group exercise; there are a lot of people (companies) in seperate lanes running their own races. Each person is focused, outcome driven and trying to get the best for the customers while making a profit at the same time. They are running their own race, navigating the hurdles, or the puddles and working towards their race finish line. Only to then begin a brand new race as soon as that one finishes.

The picture below the first depicts all the individual companies who offer the same, or very similar products & services. A recent post from Fitt Insider stated, “Active gym-goers only make up a single-digit percentage of the adult population in the United States. And it’s even smaller globally.” This image shows how ‘competitive’ and protective companies feel about their marketshare. We are all vying for the same piece of the active-gym goer pie.

Post pandemic we have a world that is physically sicker from lifestyle disease, more chronically stressed and mentally ill than ever before. Yet our industry has not yet come up with a solution to be able to reach 90% of the population? It beggars belief that with so many passionate individuals we have yet to find a solution. I believe one piece of the puzzle to reaching and engaging more humans in exercise is collaboration.

In the midst of the pandemic Emma and I launched Exercise to Experience. It is our belief that group exercise is the best way to begin to engage more people in exercise and we want to spread the message. Within our own small business Emma and I instinctively knew that we didn’t have what it took separately to spread our message and engage a global audience. So we collaborated. We starting working to our ‘genius’ (our individual strengths) and a beautiful working partnership flourished from a friendship.

We didn’t want to stop collaborating so we have continually reached out over these last two years to find people who we can work with. The collaboration process is hard at times for a number of reasons but this analogy stuck with me. Imagine you are visiting a new city and you desperately need to use the bathroom. There are no public toilets in the vicinity and everywhere you go there are signs that read, ‘bathroom for paying customers only’. So you continue on your journey to find somewhere someone on a budget can pay to use the facilities. It’s awkward and tricky navigating new languages, new people while growing ever desperate because you really need to go!

I feel like companies and businesses in the fitness industry want to collaborate, they want to join forces, but we are all stuck in the “paying customers only” mindset. We are operating out of fear – fear of what people and other businesses may take from us. We are either the stores with our signs up, or the person searching for the right bathroom to enter. I am so curious and eager to see an industry approach collaboration with interest and inquisitiveness of what all parties can gain from working together.

The other point I wanted to make with my strange and awkward analogy is that customers are very savvy and can sense our collective competitiveness within our industry. We have unknowingly created a minefield for people to navigate with so much conflicting information, a myriad of offers and services, and each individual business shouting “PICK ME, PICK ME”. If I were to walk into a crowded marketplace with hawkers all selling their wares that are very similar, continuously yelling at me or pulling me towards them – I would just leave and never come back. It’s all too much, it’s all too hard it’s easier and safer to not buy.

The message that we are sending to the global population is that we are competing and we are afraid to lose their business. Never before has there been so much free fitness content and people are more disengaged. I don’t know any other industry that gives away so much time without some kind of renumeration. Businesses and individuals feel the push and drive to give content or services for free in fear of losing members when in fact the whole industry suffers. We need to start working together and deliver to our ‘genius’ and strengths in a collaborative fashion. Instead of hiding what you can’t offer, or what you aren’t good at, work with someone who is.

Today I am so proud to say that Exercise to Experience gets to be apart of one of the biggest collaborations the fitness industry has seen so far in FitWell. A world first of global fitness experts coming together on one platform, under one roof to promote education and empowerment. I am also proud to say that this year we will be collaborating with more brands and companies than ever before (watch this space).

I have heard it time and time again that you have to be the change that you want to see in the industry. So here we are trying as hard as we can to lead the way to collaboration change in our industry. We want to be open to talking about new ways we can start to engage the other 90% of the population rather than competing for the same slice of the pie. I would love for you to finish this article and think about how you might invite mutually beneficial collaboration into your businesses. How can we slowly get rid of the ‘patrons only’ signs at our doors, not run our seperate races and embrace others who want the same.

Written by Vanessa Leone Movement Therapist.

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