#FitFarmer 2019 Trends - Online Training, Groups and Challenges

Zwift

I just rolled onto the farm from FarmTech 2019 in Edmonton where I had a lot of great conversations and learning opportunities and also got to share some fit farmer content with Real Ag on the podcast.  However I realized halfway through the 2019 trends that I could have discussed any one trend for an entire episode so here I am to expand on that discussion.

First trend I want to deep dive into is Online Training and interactive Groups and Challenges.  We are only at the infancy of this trend and it is going to explode in the next year. From Zwift to Peloton I don’t think that there is any area of the fitness industry that has more opportunity or potential. For those of us who live in remote areas of North America I could not be more excited. Not only does this allow us to participate in a group exercise dynamic but also opens the doors to some of the top instructors in the industry.  So what the hell am I so excited about when I say online or interactive training? Well it is not really clearly defined as each player is creating its own niche and of course those early in are demonstrating that it is only limited by imagination. I feel there is two major directions and players currently capitalizing on this trend.

The first is in Virtual Training worlds where participants meet and join others (as avatars) in virtual worlds.  The major player in the realm is Zwift which has established itself in the cycling world and is slowly gaining ground in virtual running. For those of you still scratching your heads let me break it down a little more.  Zwift is a virtual world that you connect to using a bluetooth smart trainer and a laptop computer or tablet (ipad etc.). The biggest reason it exploded is that most cyclists in cold climates have already been using cycling videos and online training sessions for years.  Most already had their trainers hooked up to online programs. Zwift just took it one step further and created a virtual world where everyone can log in and ride together. They then took it to the next level by adding challenges, training programs, fondo’s and even custom modifications and clothing/bikes that can be earned.  Why has it been such a huge success? Well it is heavily documented that adherence to an exercise program drastically improved with group accountability and a social aspect Zwift checks both boxes while also transporting you to a very immersive interactive island that captures your imagination.

The second direction has been capitalized heavily on by Peloton.  Peloton the merger of hardware and software, with monthly fees paying to maintain having top industry instructors and production teams bringing an experience to our homes.  I was fortunate enough to visit on of the live recording spin studios in New York two years ago and loved it. Basically Peloton is a company that has designed a high quality spinning bike (and treadmill) that live streams spin classes around North America allowing owners of this bike to participate in live classes for a monthly fee.  They really have made an effort with exceptional production methods and delivery via the bike to bring amazing instruction and classes into you home gym. The real downside to this is the cost of set up and monthly fees. Currently in Canada you will be starting at around $3000 for the bike and a monthly fee of $49 which I feel is a little steep.  Considering that a Wahoo Kickr smart trainer runs around $1100 and Zwift is around $15 per month Peloton might price itself out of the market a little. However I do really love the product and the fact that you really get that spin studio feel without leaving home.

 

These are just two of the early players in the online fitness world and I have no doubt that others will be stepping up to offer equally immersive and motivational products.  What I really hope is that some of the larger established companies such as Keiser in spin bikes are paying close enough attention to see the direction they need to be moving.  They need to offer and capitalize on the best of both these companies and offer bikes with large screens that are internet connected so as to provide preloaded Zwift, TrainerRoad and any other online sites connectivity.  They need to be responsive to the realty that the next generation growing up in a egaming society will expect there to be virtual sports teams and trust me as much as that makes me cringe it still a better option than not exercising at all.