Fighting fit

Fitness apps enjoyed a pandemic-related boom but as life reverts to normal will it last?

Fitness apps experienced an unprecedented boom during Covid-19 lockdowns which restricted mobility and gym access. Most market observers expected these apps to lose appeal with a post-pandemic return to normal life and the reopening of economic and social activity but many fitness apps have adapted and continue to thrive.

Over the past two years, fitness apps have expanded and transformed their services into healthy lifestyle apps and apps that assist their users in solving specific health-related problems. Some of these apps are growing by acquiring third companies which provide mental health, meditation, mindfulness, and nutrition features.

Thus, in 2021, the global fitness app market size was valued at USD 1.1 billion but is expected to grow to a staggering USD 33 billion by 2027, according to Allied Market Research. In Latin America, the broader fitness sector is forecast to reach USD 120 billion by 2030, with a 24.3% annual increase, according to Allied Market Research.

“The pandemic drove an unprecedented growth in the acceptance and adoption of fitness apps while people couldn’t go to the gym,” explained the owner of a chain of gyms in Peru, “some of these apps have become monotonous and boring so people have abandoned them but others have expanded to offer a wide range of health-related services that are complementary to a gym membership.”

“The pandemic drove an unprecedented growth in the acceptance and adoption of fitness apps while people couldn’t go to the gym.”

Owner, chain of gyms, Peru

Gympass and Mude, both founded in Brazil; and Instafit, from Mexico; are the most popular fitness apps from Latin America, according to Statista, a market data website. Their success lies in their capacity to expand the range of services they provide. Gympass, which provides access to over 2,000 gyms in 14 countries, consolidated its success by providing nutrition and therapy services. The company is now valued at USD 2.2. billion and counts with 5,000 corporate clients.

An executive at a fitness app development firm in Brazil confirmed, “Adaptation has been key to our growth. It was clear that replicating a gym-class environment at home was a great first step during the pandemic but people were always going to return to the gym – fitness is a social activity. Recently, we have focused on supporting this return to normality by providing new tools and services to complement all kinds of physical activity.”

“Adaptation has been key to our growth. Recently, we have focused on supporting this return to normality by providing new tools and services to complement all kinds of physical activity.”

Executive, fitness app, Brazil

A professor of physical education confirmed, “These apps allow everyone to have personal trainers and tailored workouts in their pockets, previously this was limited to gym clients. Now, you can sign up to a gym and get their app with all kinds of additional services and content from mental health to nutrition.”

Future success for the fitness app appears to depend on establishing deeper synergies with in-person activities using existing and new partners to bring them additional revenue through an expanded service offering that allows them to address larger markets.

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