Sharoshkin owns The BXNG Club, where he started 17 years ago as a janitor. He is a former professional Muay Thai fighter who has fought worldwide and lives in Carmel Valley.
It was July 2020, and I was sitting in my office at The BXNG Club in San Diego at our Kearny Mesa location watching the Peloton stock climb and people on social media compare how long they’d have to wait for the delivery of their new, game-changing, I-am-obsessed-with-it piece of fitness equipment. I was frustrated being a gym owner and CEO responsible for the livelihood of 90-plus employees as the unpredictability and severity of shutdowns shook us to our core. But one thing I knew for sure — the trend of home workouts was just that. A trend.
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How did I know this? From 16 years of experience running multiple fitness clubs, talking to and training hundreds of customers, and listening to their stories. The fact is, regardless of the location or the demographics, all of them kept coming back to the gym year after year after year for two reasons: experience and social interaction.
Both were blatantly missing from the at-home workout craze, which fueled my new fight to educate consumers, the media and business “experts” about why gyms and group classes wouldn’t be axed from the fitness world.
Online training nabbed the top spot in the Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021 that is conducted annually by the American College of Sports Medicine. But while we didn’t know if The BXNG Club was going to survive the shutdowns of 2020 and 2021, we knew that at-home fitness would not make us obsolete.
Research shows that the intersection of motivation and accountability — prerequisites for a long-term commitment, including exercise — begins with sharing goals with another person. Motivation and accountability at The BXNG Club are found in our coaches and the community. And it was exactly that, the world-class instruction by expert coaches and the intentionally designed programming that led to our comeback and success when the second restrictions were lifted. In the age of automation and digital overrule, inspirational individuals remain a unique selling point that technology rivals can’t replace. Couple that with a strong community that is built on a shared experience of fun, health, energy and being a part of something next level, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for long-term relevance.
The pandemic massively altered the fitness industry and individuals have redefined what fitness means to them. It only heightened the direction of where the entire fitness industry was heading. Fitness technology is to be widely incorporated in the fitness experience, rather than becoming the experience. As the world shifts into its new form of “normalcy” and back to allowing humans to be what they are — social creatures — announcements such as Peloton’s CEO stepping down and the subsequent mass layoffs (20 percent of the total corporate workforce!) was the confirmation of my July 2020 prediction.
The last decade of fitness brought the boutique boom, the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) craze and immersive classes. Fitness, like anything else health-related, is widely personal.
Individuals have different fitness hurdles that range anywhere from confidence and time to money and space, and according to the experts, fitness clubs will only continue being increasingly specific. Gyms that look like a wholesale retailer for gym equipment with rows of cardio and weightlifting equipment will continue to be recognized as uninspiring, boring and outdated.
Millennials and Generation Z, who currently make up more than 80 percent of all people paying for fitness and who are coined “Generation Active” wildly favor working out in groups with a broader range of options. And they put emphasis on the facility and smart integration of technology to support their workouts.
A recent Men’s Health Australia article that asked a panel of fitness experts what the gym of 2030 will look like concluded: “Group exercise will never be for everyone. But its rising popularity, whether at big boxes or small boutiques, is a strong predictor of the gym’s future as a hub of an increasingly precious commodity: human interaction.”
Exciting and impactful times in the fitness industry are before us. Evidence suggests that digital and at-home fitness is bringing more people into the world of exercise, which is an incredible accomplishment. It is bridging the gap of main hurdles such as cost, convenience and lack of time.
And while fitness technology and alternatives outside of the gym such as Peloton are faced with the need to adapt or sink, it is key to remember that the fitness industry is a human industry grounded in physicality and relationships.