On September 15, Apple announced its new home exercise platform, Fitness Plus. On the same day, Peloton tweeted: “Friendly competition is in our DNA. Welcome to the world of digital fitness, @Apple. ”
While Apple isn’t a new player in the fitness arena (the Apple Watch has been offering fitness features for a while), Fitness Plus is the first inclusion of original workout content for the Watch. It is a subscription service that costs $ 9.99 per month or $ 79.99 per year. Subscribers who need an Apple Watch and iPhone have access to a library of virtual classes that they can stream over iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. Some don̵
If this sounds familiar – and Peloton clearly – it’s because it’s pretty much the same as the Peloton app. But that doesn’t make Fitness Plus the downfall of Peloton. On the contrary, experts say it could actually help home exercise companies like Peloton face their common adversary: the gym.
Peloton’s app-only membership is $ 12.99 per month. It offers a similar range of workouts as Fitness Plus (strength, yoga, HIIT, the works).
But the app isn’t what Peloton is best known for – or what it wants to be known for. Peloton’s business cards are cardio devices that can be seamlessly integrated into Peloton’s training and display your measurement data on the integrated screens. You don’t need the devices to use the Peloton app, but the hardware is an important part of the company’s brand. “They’ll just be the content,” Peloton CEO John Foley said of Apple in response to the Fitness Plus announcement last week. “And we think the special sauce, the magic, is our connected platforms.”
Hardware is of course also a selling point for Fitness Plus. But there is a significant difference in price. Peloton’s current range of spin bikes and treadmills starts at $ 1,895 and $ 4,295, respectively. You can get an Apple Watch for less than $ 200, and some customers who might be interested in Fitness Plus likely already have one.
This is an important distinction since Apple’s barrier to entry is much lower – but doesn’t offer the same level of integration with cardio machines. While the prices for the app subscriptions are similar (the Peloton membership, which includes bike and treadmill classes, is $ 39), the companies aren’t competing for the exact same customer base (unless Apple offers its own spin bikes ).
“You can target different people,” said Ben Williams, global CXO of innovation consultancy R / GA, who has worked with brands such as Nike, Equinox and SoulCycle to develop connected fitness products and services. “Peloton is a bit more at the end of the spectrum, and Apple is more of an everyday fitness audience.” There are certainly users in the middle, especially among Peloton subscribers who don’t own the hardware. If Apple and Peloton bump the head, it’s over that group.
“Peloton has very specific products, fitness products that are tied to services like bicycles,” said Rick Kowalski, director of industry analysis and business intelligence for the Consumer Technology Association The edge. In contrast, an Apple Watch “appeals to people who use and participate in a wide variety of fitness activities and allows the user to choose which activity to use.” Kowalski added, “I think there is a lot of room in the room.”
2020 was not friendly to fitness clubs. In response to the spread of COVID-19, gyms in the United States were ordered to shut down in mid-March. Since then, some clubs have closed permanently; others have reopened with strict restrictions.
The pandemic presents Fitness Plus with a unique opportunity as downtime has led a number of households to consider (or focus on) exercising at home. Ten percent of US households used online fitness services prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent study by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), that number has since risen to 14 percent. The CTA also found that 53 percent of consumers who have had connected fitness equipment since pre-COVID-19 are now more likely to use it – even when gyms return.
Now that more consumers have invested in home fitness services and opted for virtual workouts, some may not want to renew their club memberships even after the clubs are back to full capacity. “People have really had an opportunity to rethink their routines,” said Colleen Logan, who has been in smart fitness for over 20 years and is currently vice president of marketing at Icon Health & Fitness The edge. Logan believes that being able to mix and match different places – indoors and outdoors, in the living room and on hiking trails – motivates users to exercise. Some may find it easier to do this with an app subscription than a gym membership.
The price difference doesn’t help the gyms much either. A 2018 survey found that the average monthly gym membership cost nationwide was $ 58 – but it’s higher in some major cities like New York.
But even for customers who don’t want to buy an Apple Watch, the release of Fitness Plus could bring more exposure and investment to the connected fitness space overall. “If people have more options to do this stuff at home, it could increase the tide to … create a bigger market for mass-produced fitness equipment for the home,” says R / GA EVP and global CTO Nick Coronges. Apple, he says, “is pushing these digital tools into the market and making it less … attractive to sign up for another monthly fitness club membership. These guys might be the ones with more to lose.”
In fact, some connected fitness competitors are excited to see an Apple-sized company come to the table. “We’re excited to have Apple join the fitness game because it is raising awareness of the need for simple, affordable everyday fitness,” said Logan. “It’s fabulous that one of the most valuable companies in the world is telling people that everyday fitness is essential.”
This holds true in two ways when Apple integrates Fitness Plus with other fitness products – connected bikes, treadmills, or other third-party equipment. Peloton has taken a similar approach with smart TVs – integrations with Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Fire TV, and Chromecast (via the iOS app) were introduced last year. Apple has already embarked on this path with GymKit, with which Apple Watches can be synchronized with machines from different brands such as Life Fitness, StairMaster and even Peloton itself.
“The content has people on bikes and the like so it could be in direct competition, but it can also complement the peloton,” Williams says of Fitness Plus. While no one expects Apple to be bringing out a bike anytime soon, it’s easier to imagine a Carplay scenario – Apple software that brings Fitness Plus to cardio machines.
Or you could think of something like Siri that other companies could potentially develop for and incorporate into their products. “Apple Fitness Plus … and similar services could become platforms with which other hardware manufacturers can connect and integrate,” says Kowalski. “I see it as a broader platform for them to connect all products together.” With GymKit the basics are in place.
Fitness Plus has been a long time coming. It’s part of the same broader effort other fitness players have made at home: expand to do everything a gym does. That spans three broad areas, says Williams: inspiration, guidance, and progress monitoring.
Each area currently has its leaders – but no company has conquered all three. “Nike is a great owner of this inspiration piece and is inspiring more people to exercise,” says Williams. “Equinox and SoulCycle really have this leadership and community aspect, they really connect people. And with the products and platforms, Apple has the ability to track the progress and give you an idea of how you are doing. And everyone tries to build on the parts they don’t have. ”
Apple is certainly doing a great deal in the area of “leadership”. However, the Inspirational checkbox needs to be checked in order to completely replace the gym for many customers. The Apple Watch can help – it already awards badges and stickers for various achievements and tasks, in which you fill three visible “rings” for calories, exercise time and time spent standing and moving. For some users (and athletes in particular), inspiration is not just about personal goals, but also about competition and community. When it comes to Fitness Plus, that’s still a question mark.
“Getting the social, competitive, and community parts right is a challenge,” says Coronges. “That’s why at many premium clubs they go to SoHo House or whatever to keep fit, or Equinox. I think some of this needs to be replicated digitally, and it certainly remains to be seen if it could. It doesn’t feel like the platform is geared towards that, but that’s going to be a necessity. ”
Peloton has taken steps in this area – its platform includes live classes, leaderboards and some limited ways to interact with other participants. It will be interesting to see if Fitness Plus offers something similar. The much more interesting battle, however, is between gyms and the associated gym as a whole. In this regard, Apple and Peloton are there.