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An Industry on “Steroids”

By: Corrine Sandler, CEO, Fresh Intelligence

I sometimes find myself interchanging the two words innovation and disruption, so I have a taken a stab at defining each one to avoid confusion. Innovation is doing new things that unlock new value; disruption is doing new things that render the old things obsolete. You can draw a parallel, yet the key differentiator is the term “value” vs the term “obsolete.” Let me use the example of the music industry to explain. The iPod made the Walkman obsolete - complete disruption; the Smartphone with its iPod capabilities is unlocking new value – innovation.

An industry that is ripe for disruption is the fitness industry. A few great companies have hit the jackpot on the disruption front; they looked for something that people do frequently, then analyzed the points of frustration in their experiences. Voila- technology is inserted into the practice to significantly improve the experience. Remember the Richard Simmons video days? It took a week or two get your Beta or VHS video; an expensive distribution and production process. Today any fitness pro or enthusiast can independently shoot and release workout videos through YouTube and other digital channels, and amass millions of fans on Social Media in hours.

Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan

The fitness industry has constant trends. One month it’s Hot Yoga, then Tabata, followed by Surfsets, and Burlesque Dancing – and hundreds more. But these are not considered fundamental innovation or disruption. These new workout activities are more like an iteration; doing the same things, just better.  There are now activity trackers, smart workout wear, and other sensors, which give consumers immediate access to real-time, measurable feedback. These gadgets are fun, undeniably. And yes, your workout experience is improved through real-time knowledge on your workout and body metrics; but how disruptive are these innovations, really?

There is one disruptive fitness technology I believe has hit the mark on all counts. In my opinion, they are the Apple of fitness.

Peloton, your private, yet team cycling studio on the go. Private and team cycling? It seems impossible that the two concepts may coexist in one technology, but they do.. Peloton is a cultural phenomenon and has redefined what it means to build a connected experience, disrupting multiple industries simultaneously. In home fitness, boutique class fitness, and connected media devices are all simultaneously sitting on the chopping block. With Pelaton, you can access high-energy indoor cycling workouts instantly from the comfort of your home and still experience the energy of a group class workout. The company is vertically integrated, making its own hardware, producing a tablet computer as well as the bike and software. It produces 12 hours of live television content a day, and sells through its own retail stores. Unsurprisingly, the company is on a steep-growth curve. It has tripled annual revenue in just one year, and has over 100,000 paying subscribers.

So why is this disruption? Just take a short look into the future, and spinning group classes will become obsolete. The fitness studios that must pay huge retail rents cannot compete with Peloton’s pricing model, scalability, volume, and profitability. Plus, consumers get all the technology and body metrics in one place. You can wake up five minutes before class starts, workout in your underwear, and still feel energized by the group classes.  Now that is what I call disruption on steroids.

About the Author: Corrine is the CEO of Fresh Intelligence, a Boutique Market Research Firm on a global mission to change consumer behaviour. She has had one successful Technology exit and is a mentor and EIR at incubators in Canada. Advantage best-selling Author of “Wake Up Or Die”, a sought after Keynote Speaker, and a proud mother of four.

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