The Bricks N’ Mortar Rebuttal: A $2,022 Bet For Charity

The Bricks N’ Mortar Rebuttal: A $2,022 Bet For Charity

Here’s my 7-point REBUTTAL to the digital, at-home propaganda that’s being pushed out to convince us that the “bricks & mortar” health club & boutique fitness industry will soon be as obsolete as mall arcades and Blockbuster stores because, post-COVID, everyone will prefer to work out at-home, exclusively.  Please read on and let me know what you think. To all those who disagree. . .BET ME. 

  1. Let me give you a news flash: We are social animals, ok?! We are not hermits. We don’t like doing things by ourselves, on average. According to Myers-Briggs, 63% of extroverted types prefer to exercise at a gym rather than at home. Sure, that may seem obvious. But, consider this: Half of all introverted types also prefer to exercise at a gym. So let’s start with the premise that most people would prefer to exercise out of the home. Further, according to a Les Mills industry report, “Millennials and Gen Z – dubbed ‘Generation Active’ – now represent 80% of all gym goers” and their average age is 36. These enthusiasts are coming back. (See Mindbody survey data below.)


  2. Do you believe the flooring in your apartment is the best surface for daily exercise? Is that healthy for your knees, your calves, and your joints? Answer: No. It isn’t.


  3. The live experience is simply far superior to the at-home video experience. You think people will be excited to return to live sporting events post-COVID? I guarantee you in 24 months, the stadium stands will be filled from Little League to the Major Leagues. Granted, if you need to do a couple of workouts a week, digitally, that’s awesome! But that’s not your full-time solution. That’s part of your omni-channel behavioral solution. Our bricks & mortar brands are not sitting on their hands. They have their own digital: Intelivideo, Forte Fitness, Lift, Wexer, Solin Fitness, Myzone, Les Mills, the list goes on. The relationships built in person over years of getting results (an “iron dome”) will proliferate online for the traditional players as they now have the technology (aka weapons) to compete with the pure play, at-home providers.


  4. How long has it been since you met someone new on a personal level? When the pandemic is finally over, health clubs and studios will be real places to make real social connections that aren’t filtered through a laptop or phone.
  5. Take a dose of this for a minute. . .why are eGame companies now building TEAMS and holding LIVE events in ARENAS when all the gamers can easily just log in from home? Why is TopGolf one of the largest group entertainment concepts sweeping the country instead of people buying their own golf simulators and laying turf in their living room? Why was AirBNB able to go public during a pandemic. . . because people want EXPERIENCES and they want to get OUT of their homes.
  6. Are movie theatres in trouble? Yes, but that is not an analogy for the HALO/fitness industry. You go to a movie and sit in a chair, which you can replicate in your apartment. There is no movement required AND you do not want anyone to talk, so it is an event performed in isolation, not in a community.
  7. Can we take a moment and talk about actual RESULTS? The average American has gained 15 pounds during 2020 even with the influx of home equipment and video streaming. Results are more important than ever. People who workout and put in the time, effort & energy to get healthy results achieve greater success in person at the club or studio. Certainly, the in-home experience can provide some moments of excitement, but it simply doesn’t compare to the endorphin rush and community that you receive inside a club, fitness boutique and sports complex. Loud Music, Energy, Movement, Motivation and Human Interaction Equals RESULTS. The whole universe is an energy field! A health club/boutique studio is a heightened energy field.

So, for all of the critics, naysayers and freelance writers who are proliferating propaganda and faulty research to predict that the health club industry will be down 30-50% in total members: I’m asking you to put your MONEY where your MOUTH is. 

Here is the bet: I will bet you $2,022 (for 2022) that on December 31, 2022 more Americans will belong to a brick and mortar health club or regularly attend a studio than will subscribe solely to a connected hardware equipment service (e.g. Peloton, Nordic Track, Bowflex, Hydrow, Mirror and Tonal.) 

The United States connected gym equipment market size in 2019 amounted to $2.1 Billion and is estimated to hit $7.2 Billion by the end of 2026, as per Valuates Reports. If the At-Home, Connected Gym Equipment market is greater than the total $ size of the health club/studio industry (as per, $35.0 billion as of 2019) at the end of 2022, YOU WIN. If not, you LOSE.

To be clear, an individual who belongs to a health club or regularly attends a studio AND subscribes to a connected hardware equipment service would count twice. 

If I win, you donate $2,022 to the National Health & Fitness Alliance (NHFA.) If I lose, Integrity Square will donate $2,022 to the charity of your choice, although it must be a charity focused on eradicating obesity, diabetes, loneliness, or all the above. You can bet me any amount and you will pay your pro-rata donation based on the total amount of bets received. Bet me a dollar or up to $2,022 (up to 10 bets.) We will track the bet on monthly.

In closing, let me be clear for all of my friends in the connected equipment space: We love that more Americans are getting fit and utilizing technology to workout anytime, anywhere. The growth of the entire HALO sector is about all of us changing behaviors and getting 300 million Americans healthy and active. That includes in-club, in-studio, on digitally connected equipment, and mobile apps. 

I encourage all connected equipment players to collaborate and work together with bricks & mortar, because brick & mortar is here to stay. You want a relationship where you can showcase your equipment in clubs, right? So let’s do that together.In the meantime, I will put my donation money where my mouth is. . .

Personal Relationships matter.
Human Interaction matters.
In-Person Community matters.


PS: This article is a product of several days of editing down my initial animated/R-rated voice memo to self. Feel free to enjoy the source-file riff as well if inclined. -Pete


Data Kindly Provided by Mindbody 

In a Mindbody study of Peloton users in July 2019:

  • 93% of Peloton consumers attended in-person classes prior to owning a Peloton bike.
  • 88% of Peloton consumers are still attending in-person classes after purchasing their Peloton bike.
  • 75% of Peloton consumers work out at a gym or studio on a weekly basis.
  • 75% of Peloton consumers said that their Peloton bike/workouts supplements their in-person classes.

Mindbody consumer surveys support the hybrid model. (Virtual and in-person.) 

  • In July 2020, 93% of consumers surveyed say they plan to go back to their previous routine once businesses reopen. 
  • In September 2020, 75% of consumers surveyed said they will continue taking virtual classes in addition to returning to studios.
  • In September 2020, 52% of consumers surveyed said they would add in-person fitness classes at a new studio to their fitness routine. 
  • In September 2020, 76% of consumers surveyed said they prefer in-person workouts. Referenced in our blog post here.

More good news

  • In September 2020, 78% of consumers surveyed feel that wellness is more important than ever.
  • In September 2020, 59% are more focused on health and wellness since the pandemic started.
  • In September 2020, 60% say they need to be healthier to withstand disease.
  • In September 2020 – 66% of consumers surveyed believe wellness brings people together.