Assessing tecent trends in the fitness industry

Fitness trends: DVDs and their spinoffs — where is the fitness industry going

Recent trends in the fitness industry

Recently, the fitness industry has seen an explosion of interest in home workouts. People can get fit in the privacy of their own home, without judgment, on their own schedules. Convenience, it is hoped, will lead to greater fitness. “An estimated 311 million Americans have health club memberships — bringing in about $2.6 billion annually. The only problem is, according to varying estimates, between 8 and 67% actually go to the gym. Many people feel they don’t have the time or have the money to spend on gym memberships to get or stay in shape” (Massey). The concept of what it means to ‘work out’ has radically changed in recent years with the intensification of home workout programs and their diversification.

Traditionally, the format of delivery for most at-home fitness programs has been DVDs. A number of successful workouts have emerged delivered through this format including Insanity and P90X. However, as fewer consumers are consuming entertainment media through DVDs, new methods of delivery for home workouts have emerged, including streaming (Kaczanowska 1). However, “although electronic publication is forecast to expand rapidly in the next five years” most industry analysts believe “that most fitness videos will continue to be purchased in physical format” (Kaczanowska 1).

Recent major trends have emerged: one, the shift to more intense workouts as ‘brands’ such as Insanity; a shift to more interactive, ever-changing workout formats as embodied by the fitness yoga website streaming YogaGlo; and also an expansion of the types of workouts offered, including those targeted to a specialized audience like children and older Americans. In general, although interest in streaming has increased, sales of DVDs are likely to still remain strong and a ‘combined’ approach of selling DVDs and streaming is suggested for companies wishing to enter this marketplace.

Insanity and its cousins

The desire for fast results has led to an explosion of high-intensity workouts that promise fast results. “The names say it all: Insanity, Extreme, Get Ripped in 30. The workouts aren’t for the faint at heart. Today’s consumer wants the maximum amount of exertion in the shortest amount of time” (Perez & Tressel). And for those who stick with the program, they often work, resulting in weight loss as much as 25 lbs. In 60 days according to one consumer. The ability to buy ‘the next level’ in many of these workout series also adds to the attraction. However, as well as the weight loss, there has also been publicity regarding the rise in injuries associated with these programs, all of which require “explosive jumping, squatting and lunging” (Perez & Tressel). Still, the idea of ‘quicker is better’ is a common attraction for consumers.

And there is some credible scientific evidence to back up such a contention. “A growing body of evidence demonstrates that high-intensity interval training (HIT) can serve as an effective alternate to traditional endurance-based training, inducing similar or even superior physiological adaptations in healthy individuals and diseased populations, at least when compared on a matched-work basis” (Gibala et al.). In other words, working out for shorter periods of time at higher intensity can promote significant fitness gains: Insanity, for example, offers 45 minute workouts which are extremely intense. The DVD format of these intense workouts encourages consumers to progress through the program in a linear fashion, building upon their skills and despite the use of this ‘older’ format, these programs have become one of the most talked-about trends in the industry today.


Although the DVD market remains strong, streaming content is growing in popularity. “ is testing the waters but their site is cluttered and the majority of their content is recycled titles. Lion’s Gate has a Youtube channel called BeFit that’s free, but neither company is taking full advantage of the true power of streaming” (Bendewald). New movers in the industry include DailyBurn, a company which does not manufacture DVDs at all but which purely focuses on streaming.

Streaming has the advantage of offering subscriptions so the content is always new to website surfers. One of the problems of fitness DVDs is that they can quickly become boring if done repetitively. Insanity and P90X tries to avoid this problem by offering multiple DVD packages but even then, once the problem is completed, people are apt to wonder ‘what should I do next.’ Streaming, however, allows a constant turnover of new DVDs and also allows users to tailor each session to their needs, allowing greater variation in hard and easy days (another problem with more intense programs). “But the biggest advantage to streaming workout videos lies in something we do every day: the ability to interact. We update our Facebook pages with photos, friends post comments, we ask questions, add new links and post notices for special occasions. Information can be updated as needed in real time. The same is true with fitness videos” (Bendewald). Many streaming services are linked to online fitness communities and the ability to select content and interact online adds to the pleasures of the workouts.

Streaming also allows users to access workouts from some of the top celebrity trainers in the country, rather than be limited to the individuals in their area. Within certain fitness communities, such as people who practice yoga, this can be particularly attractive given that they can access a yoga ‘guru’ with a huge following who lives in San Francisco even if they live in New York. “According to a 2012 study by Yoga Journal the U.S. 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, compared to 15.8 million from 2008 and is an increase of 29%. Fitness clubs, studios and yoga practitioners have increased spending on yoga classes and products, including equipment, clothing, vacations, and media to $10.3 billion a year. This is up from $5.7 billion in 2008” (Ning). To meet this trend, streaming services such as MyYogaOnline, which for a subscription of $9.95 per month allows users to access 1000 yoga, Pilates and fitness videos (Ning).

However, despite the advantages conveyed by the streaming format, there are also certain disadvantages as well. Some users enjoy repeating workouts again and again until they can ‘get the hang’ of them. “Although many electronic videos are much cheaper than those on discs, many consumers do not have internet streaming available on their TVs and are unwilling to compromise video quality during their workout. Also, discs seem more tangible and permanent than VOD, increasing their perceived value to consumers” (Kaczanowska 7).

Other demographic trends

The rise in childhood obesity and the aging of the population has resulted in an escalation of interest in fitness programs for these specific demographics. “According to government agency the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of adults being advised to exercise increased about 10.0% from 2000 to 2010” (Kaczanowska 7). This includes a large percentage of the elderly population who has been advised to use exercise as a way of warding off chronic diseases. Older and younger consumers may be a particular interest of the pure DVD market since older viewers may be intimidated by features such as streaming while younger viewers may not be permitted to watch the Internet freely by their parents. Children can work out to videos crafted by Jillian Michaels of the Biggest Loser fame or Shaun T. Of Insanity. Older viewers can delight in seeing Jane Fonda’s newest line of videos, designed specifically for their demographic and likely level of fitness. This is also likely to ensure that the DVD market remains strong.

Workout gear trends

Some fitness programs advertise themselves specifically as requiring no additional purchases: Shaun T’s Insanity, for example, only uses your own body weight and does not require weights. Other programs require certain elements such as P90X which does require weights, resistance bands, and pull-up bars. Still other DVD series have specifically crafted their appeal around promoting the purchase of an item which then can be used in conjunction with the DVD’s fitness program. “For instance, the Bosu Cardio Fusion video uses the Bosu for an aerobic workout. The Bosu is half a stability ball with a dome side and a platform side. And sales of elastic resistance training DVDs have been increasing due to numerous products marketing these as a solution for anyone who is short on time and money” (Kaczanowska 13). Although these equipment-based programs can be ‘fads’ they can experience a brief upsurge in popularity due to the novelty factor which alleviates boredom for consumers and the appeal of getting additional gear in conjunction with a workout DVD.


The hard copy DVD has considerable competition in the mainstream market and the yoga market from streaming services. However, purchases of straightforward fitness DVDs are still common and are likely to remain so. Segmentation has become rife within the market, spanning from increasingly intense programs for those who want to ‘get ripped fast’ versus DVDs specifically targeting demographics such as Baby Boomers and children. As time grows in increasingly short supply and concerns about obesity grow, interest in convenient at-home workouts is likely to escalate and there remains a core constituency of consumers who wish to purchase the majority of their self-directed fitness content on DVDs. To leverage both markets, one possibility is to offer both DVDs and subscription-based services, given that the demographics likely to be attracted to both (people seeking ‘programs’ versus those seeking variety as well as niche markets like the elderly) are likely to be quite different.


Bendewald, M. “The Last DVD holdout: How online video is revolutionizing the home fitness industry.” Megamace Fitness. [19 Feb 2014]

Gibala, M. (et al.). “Physiological adaptations to low-volume, high-intensity interval training in health and disease.” The Journal of Physiology, 590 (2012). 1077-1084. [19 Feb 2014]

Massey, Bob. “Online sites are the latest trends in fitness. Feeling Fit. [19 Feb 2014]

Ning, Tina. “The growth of online yoga and fitness.” Lohas. [19 Feb 204]

Kaczanowska, Agata. “No sweat: Fitness DVDs have been banking on their celebrity trainers and cheaper formats.” IBIS World. November 2012.

Perez, S. & Tressel, C. “ABC. Healthbeat Report: Exercise to the extreme.” ABC. 2012.

[19 Feb 2014]

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