Residential designers may soon have to factor in how and where fitness fits into home layouts.

If you needed any further sign that digitally enabled at-home (or at least out-of-gym) exercise will transform the fitness industry in 2020, Apple’s Tuesday launch event was it. The world’s most valuable company has just revealed its forthcoming Fitness+ service, which is based around its Apple Watch device and will cost $9.99 USD a month. This combines health metrics drawn from the wearable with a series of personalized studio-style workouts from ‘world-class’ trainers. New classes will be published each week and cover activities such as cycling, treadmill, rowing, HIIT, strength, yoga and dance.

The move sees Apple go head-to-head with at-home workout class platforms such as Peloton and Mirror, both of which have been significantly boosted by the pandemic; Peloton’s stock has almost tripled so far this year and the company has just passed the one-million subscriber mark, while Mirror was recently acquired by activewear brand Lululemon for $500 million USD. Overall fitness app downloads were up 67 per cent in the year up to April according to Mobile Marketer. Apple’s advantage is obviously its scale. Though the company doesn’t release a breakdown of individual product sales, research by Strategy Analytics reasons that it sold about 31 million units in 2019, a 36 per cent increase YOY. That means Apple sold more watches last year than the whole of the Swiss watch industry. That’s a lot of people who will soon have access to a sensor-driven, highly personalized workout programme wherever they are. In a world where such a balance of cost, convenience and quality are easily accessible, it’s hardly surprising to read that 59 per cent of Americans don’t plan to renew their gym memberships after the pandemic…and these numbers were published in July, long before Apple entered the market.

This will quite literally shift the landscape for many exercise brands. ‘For home fitness, instead of a “want,” it quickly became a “need” — especially with many people incorporating daily fitness routines in between work calls,’ Chris Zoller, sports accessory brand Everlast’s VP of marketing and product development, told Modern Retail. ‘Building a home gym, as long as you have the space, is proving to be an efficient use of consumers’ time. We’d already begun transitioning a portion of our content to incorporate virtual and on-demand workouts, so this is something we’re working to roll out as part of the next phase.’

Zoller highlights an important secondary effect of this trend. An emphasis on at-home exercise with have spatial implications for residential design, something we’ve already started to unpack. While uptake of apps and associated equipment many have rocketed this year, it’s also highlighted the challenges that homeowners face when integrating fitness routines into their domestic environment. A recent study by The Shopper Agency and Design Partners found that 87 per cent of consumers say they face barriers to exercising happily at home, with the most frequent issues being a lack of self-discipline, lack of space and not having the right equipment. As a result, 68 per cent of respondents want fitness equipment that look good in the home and 90 per cent want equipment that doesn’t take up too much room. As far as motivation is concerned, over 55 per cent want equipment to offer embedded coaching services. Despite these challenges, less than 19 per cent said they missed visiting the gym, while over two-thirds are looking for products that help them replicate gym-like experiences in their own space.