Virtual workouts will make exercise more accessible long after the pandemic

The trend: The coronavirus pandemic spurred interest in digital and VR fitness. But as the health crisis wanes, some people are still sticking to their tech-centric workout regimes.

Membership platforms like Supernatural paired with the Oculus Quest headset to offer hundreds of workout options that are less costly than the average gym membership (for those who already own the $299 headset), per WFAE.

  • Supernatural amassed a 58,000-member Facebook community geared for those who historically have felt uncomfortable in traditional gym environments, per Wired.

Peloton saw its average number of workouts per user drop to 16.6 in Q1 2022 from 26 in Q3 2021, per Sporting News. Yet, others like Flow Athletic TV platform, which launched during the pandemic, hold steady. It’s seeing 2,000 new sign-ups a week, per Sporting News.

What it means: The home tech workout industry might not see the same rapid growth as it did during the pandemic’s peak. But virtual fitness benefits those who may have previously lacked an affinity for exercise, and will still be popular long after the pandemic is out of the picture.

  • The global virtual fitness market is forecast to grow 33.5% between 2019 and 2027, per Research Dive.

The opportunity: VR and digital workout technologies can help make fitness more accessible to broader demographics. This could in turn help reduce the incidents of metabolic diseases like hypertension, obesity, and diabetes in populations with high rates of such ailments.

  • VR and other tech has proven to help people lose weight, reverse diabetes, delay dementia, as well as regain energy and mobility.
  • The relative affordability of platforms like Supernatural means that people with lower incomes can also benefit from them.
  • As these technologies provide fitness in a gamified form, they could help provide sufficient motivation to exercise for those who tend to lead sedentary lifestyles.

What’s the catch? Despite greater overall accessibility, fitness technologies like VR and workout apps require broadband connectivity.

  • There’s a persistent digital divide, with 27.6 million in the US lacking home internet access in 2021.