Our Co-Founder and CEO Philipp ‘Meets the Press’
Our co-founder and CEO Philipp Roesch-Schlanderer has been in great demand in recent weeks: No wonder, the launch of our latest innovation, the Fitness Hub, was met with a wave of enthusiasm and perfectly aligned with our industry rebooting as pandemic-era restrictions are gradually being lifted.
About 10 Min.
The outcome: a focus on some of the industry’s most pressing issues!
The result is a series of interviews with multiple media outlets in and outside the fitness industry, including the “German Wallstreet Journal” Handelsblatt and FIBO. And since the topics couldn't be more pressing, we've compiled a "best-of" of these articles here. The perfect read right now!
- How the pandemic shifted member expectations and needs
- The ongoing role of digitalization for the fitness and health industry
- Market changes, working out at home, and the Peloton effect
- Why innovation is in the EGYM DNA and what to expect in 2021
Click on any of the headings below to expand the interview excerpts.
FMI: How do you see training changing in or with the pandemic?
If Corona has any positive aspect at all, it’s that we see an accelerated global trend towards health-oriented workouts - compared to the more aesthetic workout motivations of the past. This trend was already apparent before the pandemic and has really picked up momentum now.
Let me give you an example: For nine years, muscle building and weight loss were always the most popular training goals on our EGYM machines - since June 2020, it's Immunity Boost, our training program to help boost immune defense and reduce comorbidities! Almost 40 percent of all users – in older age groups, it was even more than half – selected boosting immunity as their number one workout goal. This training program is undoubtedly one of the reasons why EGYM customers saw 15 percent more new contracts than the industry average during the summer of 2020.
Therefore, we recommend our operators for 2021: Make BioAge reduction the most important goal for your customers! The motivation for losing weight decreases after a few months, but the appeal of "feel younger, healthier - and live longer!" gets more and more important - yes for all target groups!
In the EGYM App, customers can see at a glance how their BioAge is improving through regular exercise. We consider the dimensions of strength, cardio, metabolism, and, most recently, flexibility. BioAge is only available on EGYM. We have integrated numerous leading partners in the areas of body measurement systems (e.g., InBody, Tanita, seca) and cardio (e.g., Matrix and Precor) into our ecosystem. Mobility data is provided by our brand new EGYM Fitness Hub, our new assessment tool, which we introduced earlier this year. BioAge visualizes across various health data how the body is rejuvenated from exercise. There's no better way to motivate members - and of course new customers!
TT-DIGI: The lack of system relevance has become apparent in the Corona pandemic. What solutions do you see?
Although the data on the positive effects of strength training is apparent, gyms worldwide have were closed down quickly and permanently throughout the pandemic. Fitness and wellness are currently not perceived as part of the health industry by politicians and the general public. Therefore, we all need to ask ourselves, how can we do a better job of communicating the benefits of working out on health. Understanding this is not enough. It is much more important to change and strengthen the public's perception of the gym to do justice to the positive work done in many fitness and health facilities every day for the wellbeing of our societies.
FIBO: What are the biggest drivers of the digital transformation in the fitness industry?
Naturally, the members are one such factor – they all have smartphones, their lives are increasingly digital, and modern home fitness equipment is more and more connected. In this situation, gyms cannot ignore these developments unless they want to be left behind – connected fitness is a megatrend! Combine this with growing competitive pressure: That’s why digitalization is not just a chore, rather a key factor for sustained business success. And the operators certainly talk with one another. If they hear about success stories wherever they turn – lower cancellation rates, greater member satisfaction, more successful training – they certainly don’t want to be left behind. There is no question that the coronavirus has accelerated the digitalization process considerably. One reason: a training regimen focused on personal health is extremely important to members, and they want to be sure that their training is beneficial.
FIBO: In your opinion, how does the fitness industry rate when it comes to digitalization: are they pioneers, or are they late bloomers?
Numerous gym operators have been offering supplemental digital products for quite some time now. In my opinion, however, the most crucial thing is digitalizing the core product. In other words: digitalizing the training area. Our vision is to offer a fully connected training floor in which members are not just enjoying the excellent workout conditions but can also see the impact of the work they do thanks to digital measurements. I believe the ability to assess workout performance effectively is the industry’s most significant upside. As I’ve said before, in 2021, a gym can no longer be an analog island in the largely digital lives of its members. Most of the industry is working very hard to upgrade their facilities accordingly.
FIBO: What are the three most important customer requirements towards gyms that can be met with digital solutions?
Strangely enough, we asked this very question as part of a small study we conducted a few years ago. Our findings: smart onboarding for new customers, recurring measurements and flexibility tests, and visualization of training success. All three of these customer needs are addressed with our new ‘Fitness Hub,’ which utilizes cutting-edge technology to raise member support to a whole new level.
FIBO: Wearables and fitness apps are becoming ever more popular. How can gym operators take advantage of this trend?
By integrating these digital tools with the gym’s fitness equipment to create an entire ecosystem so that members can use their existing wearables and gadgets. The ‘Fitness Hub’ is but one component of our open ecosystem that encompasses our equipment, a steadily growing range of connected equipment from external providers, and naturally our company's apps for trainers and members. For our members, this means that all training progress made within the EGYM Fitness Hub ecosystem is reliably reported via the EGYM Branded Member App, using the EGYM BioAge function – and it is done individually for the areas of strength, cardio, metabolic, and flexibility.
TT-DIGI: How should gym operators position themselves for the future?
The gym should no longer be an analog island in the otherwise largely digital lives of its members. COVID-19 has significantly accelerated digitization. More and more gym operators have been offering digital side products for some time now. From my perspective, however, the most important thing is the digitization of the core product, i.e., the digitization of the training area. Our vision is an entirely digitized ecosystem that provides exercisers with a perfect workout and measurable effects. For me, effectively assessing workout performance is the most significant value we can provide as an industry.
body LIFE: How will digitalization, which has significantly accelerated the corona crisis in gyms, change the industry?
Philipp Roesch-Schlanderer: Every concept that takes us forward in the future requires software - and here we invest more than anyone else in the fitness industry. Digitization and software have always played a central role in realizing our vision of a gym that works for everyone. Only innovative software enables the connectivity of the training floor, which EGYM was the first company in the industry to drive forward from the very beginning. Today's gym members, equipped with smartphones and countless sports apps, simply expect to work out better with their apps’ supporting them in their gym. If you don't realize this, you will lose the mass market.
The exciting question is whether people in the world will return to gyms after COVID-19 or whether they will become accustomed to home workouts or making the rounds on their newly purchased outdoor bike. Roesch-Schlanderer is convinced that the gyms have a bright future ahead of them.
He says that you can mainly train endurance at home but not strengthen all your muscle groups. But gyms would have to compete with networked high-tech trainers from Wahoo and Peloton, for example. "That's what people have gotten used to, and that's what they want in the gym now." EGYM could also benefit from this, he said.
FMI: What role will training at home play in the future? Is Peloton, for example, a threat to gyms?
For me, there is too much discussion about the potential dangers. Sure, the Peloton CEO regularly says he wants to take members away from the gyms. From my perspective, we should be self-confident and focus on the strengths of our facilities, namely equipment-based workouts.
But what we should be doing a lot more of is looking at what we can learn from Peloton: They have a product that people are genuinely excited about. Millions of users use Peloton Bike an average of 20 (!!!) times per household per month. So we should think about how to get an equally great user experience into gyms. EGYM wants to tackle this topic and see how we can learn from Peloton to add even more value to working out at the gym.
FIBO: What is your vision for the fitness industry in 10 years?
Members will enjoy a seamless workout experience: this means that no matter where they are or what area they are training in, they will be able to target their efforts according to their requirements and abilities. Workouts will be focused on prevention and improving personal health. Digital support will make it possible to entirely free trainers from routine tasks, allowing them to concentrate all their efforts on coaching and guidance. This will significantly increase the status of trainers in the fitness landscape. More people will be working out in our facilities than ever before. The reason: by continuously improving our programs, we will have succeeded in making them indispensable – you could even say systemically relevant.
BayStartup: Mr. Roesch-Schlanderer, you started in 2013 as an innovation driver in the fitness industry, breaking entirely new ground for your customers in this area. What was unique about your solution back then?
The idea for EGYM came from our personal experiences as gym-goers. We quickly saw during our visits that the offering was often not suitable for the mass market. There was a lack of guidance in all aspects: Which machines should I go to, how do I set them up, how much weight do I need to work out with, how long, how often? In short, far too many new gym customers, like us back then, fail right at the start - even to this day - because their workout is not personalized for them, and they are not provided with enough guidance during the workout itself. Above all, most people simply don't enjoy working out. People go to the gym to do something for their body or their health, but ultimately, for many, working out is as exciting as playing soccer without counting goals.
We wanted to change that. The only way to do that is with smart and digitally networked workout equipment that instantly recognizes exercisers and automatically adjusts all the relevant parameters of their workout and equipment. We were the first to tackle this with our software-based approach.
Baystartup: What were the main milestones of your company (...)?
I am particularly proud that since our founding in mid-2010, we have continuously brought innovations to the market that make our customers and their members more successful. At the end of 2012, we delivered our first fully electronic strength equipment to gyms. They were always online, connected, and recognized every user - a real game-changer.
Over time, we continued to develop new software-based training methods and goals, including explonic training to increase explosive strength, a training program specifically aimed at type 2 diabetes patients, and a year ago, at the start of the pandemic, our Immunity Boost program, which strengthens the immune system. Then we developed various apps for members, trainers, and operators - for optimal and individualized care. And through our EGYM Cloud, we now also connect devices from many other leading manufacturers, meaning training on these devices or with these apps is just as easy as on EGYM products.
A few weeks ago, we finally launched our EGYM Fitness Hub. It is a kind of centerpiece in fitness and health facilities and cuts the time for onboarding new members from 20 to just two minutes. It also regularly measures workout progress, intuitively visualized on a large screen. For the first time, the Fitness Hub makes it possible to measure flexibility. We also record cardio, strength, and metabolism development. Therefore, we can now provide all exercisers with exact and comprehensive information about their workout success, their so-called BioAge, in the Branded Member App.
Our investors honor this and have provided EGYM with over 130 million US dollars to date. The development of internationally competitive software requires extremely high investments. But it has always been our ambition to be a global company. And with a presence in all the important European markets and the USA, we are well on the way.
TT-DIGI: What else can we expect from EGYM in 2021?
We will boost the power of EGYM Fitness Hub with additional features, which will benefit all customers thanks to rolling software updates. Then we will increase production volume throughout the year. In addition, exciting updates to our machine software is scheduled for the second half of the year.