CES uncovered: 2020 is the Year of Connected Fitness

New Year, New You? 2020  will be the year of self-care and healthy habits, which was front and center at CES 2020. The vast array of smart fitness equipment, apps and wearables supported the connected fitness trend, with innovative mobile technology leading the exhibition. 

“We think 2020 will be a big year for the Connected Fitness Market,” said John Peters, Founder of BPT Works who also founded the first-ever Sports Tech Marketplace at CES. “This movement is clearly here to stay and not just another trend. This is evident given the amounts of capital institutional investors are deploying into space.”

Connected Fitness Equipment

Market analysts forecast the global connected gym equipment market to grow 45% year-over-year until 2021. Peloton pioneered the concept of “enterTRAINment” with their cult-favorite stationary bikes and app that combines live-streaming classes with a boutique workout to create a gym-like experience. Peloton didn’t exhibit at CES this year, but their presence was felt with the abundance of workout equipment that looked strikingly similar, including Echelon’s latest bike, the Smart Connect EX5S, and Bowflex’s Connected C6 Bike

Prior to CES, rumors circulated that Peloton might announce the release of a rowing machine, but competitors seem to have beaten the company to the punch. Our top pick is the Hydrow, which was first launched in 2018 with streamable videos to replicate the visuals of rowing out on the water. Like the Peloton bike and app, Hydrow offers a variety of guided rowing classes via a monthly subscription on its 22″ HD touchscreen display. At CES this year, the company announced an upcoming VR feature that will also let users look around panoramically in a VR headset to simulate rowing on a four-person boat. This new feature solidifies  Hydrow’s commitment to leveraging the latest technologies to engage users’ minds as well as their bodies. 

People are getting more serious about prioritizing their health”, says Garrett C. MacDonald, EVP of Sales at Kochava. “This can be challenging with busy travel schedules and young, growing families. Group fitness has been around for decades and it's being revolutionized with connected experiences and rich personalized content. The home is always the most convenient place to work out and these companies have figured out how to deliver high-end studio fitness classes in the privacy of your own home.”

Flexible Workout Plans

From 2014-2017, studio & fitness content apps grew over 830%, the fastest of any app type in the health and fitness category. In 2017 specifically, studio & fitness content apps accounted for 5% of all health & fitness app sessions. This booking trend makes it crucial for gyms and studios to be competitive and offer an app that lets users conveniently schedule their workouts and classes.

Gym memberships can be expensive for on-the-go fitness lovers, especially if they’re never in one place long enough to maximize the return on their long-term gym membership. That’s why we loved the FlexIt app at CES this year, which lets users access gyms wherever and whenever they want, while only paying for the amount of time they are in the facility. This pay-per-minute model provides on-the-go fitness lovers Uber-like accessibility to gym services and incentivizes them to test out new gyms.

“From the beginning, we have been committed to offering a flexible approach to fitness that is in line with current consumption trends and empowers users to make smart, informed decisions about where they work out and how much they spend. Our hope is to change the way users access their fitness and also provide value to gym owners and management,” said Austin Cohen, Founder, and CEO of FlexIt.

At CES 2020, FlexIt further highlighted its commitment to providing value to network gyms by announcing its FlexIt XR initiative, which will allow users to virtually tour gyms and interact with equipment using AR and VR features.

Personalized Fitness Experiences Using Location Data


Graph of US Adult Wearable Users and Penetration

Source: eMarketer


Roughly a quarter of US adults (56.7 million) used a wearable device at least once a month in 2019. This year it seemed like there was an unending array of wearables and apps that leveraged data science to deliver highly personalized experiences to users based on their location. This includes the FlexIt app which uses geofencing to track app users’ locations and automatically log them out of their workout after they leave a gym to ensure payment is only for the time spent in the facility. 

HERE Technologies — the location data and technology platform company — move people, businesses, cities and other sectors forward by harnessing the power of location. Applying location intelligence to a marketing campaign helps brands and marketers build more targeted campaigns that improve customer experiences. 

“Location data is instrumental in the advertising industry. With location intelligence and the magic of data science, marketers can make smarter and accurate decisions to deliver highly customized messages to their precise audiences via smartphones, connected car screens, wearables and more,” said Cindy Oran, HERE Technologies Product & Portfolio Marketing Manager.


Graph of fitness apps market state

Source: MLSDev


Statistics show that health and fitness app users are highly engaged, with 75% of active users opening their apps at least two times a week. Twenty-five percent of the most engaged users open their apps more than 10 times a week. The global fitness app market is anticipated to reach over $14.7 billion by 2026

“There were over 60 million Americans who had gym memberships in 2019 - there’s plenty to go around which is why you see notable investors and brands like Lululemon investing in connected fitness,” said John Peters.

For app developers, health and fitness apps present an attractive opportunity to capitalize on users’ frequent engagement and boost monetization.