FitTech Insider

What is the next killer feature of Home Gyms in the US, Stefan Sillner?

The technologization of HomeGyms is accelerating. FitTech US Advisor Stefan Sillner reveals to us new audiences in the home fitness market, its evolution in 2022, and companies that will shape the connected hardware market this year.

With a background of 18 years in the fitness industry, Stefan Sillner is a highly skilled global business development executive who has built an extensive international network. Previously, Stefan created distribution partnerships into 65 countries worldwide. He has supported established brands such as Power Plate and fit tech start-up companies like CLMBR, Hygear and A-champs in their international expansion. He recently joined the Fit Tech Company as advisor as part of the new US team.

FitTech Club: Stefan Sillner about United States of FitTech

At the recent exclusive member-only event, we were talking about the US fittech market - and what trends will dominate 2022. Our Club member Jon Brady (COO Midtown Athletic Clubs since 2013) and US advisors Stefan Sillner, Emma Barry and Eric Malzone discussed the future of subsegments in the fittech market, such as #homefittech or #femtech.

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Stefan, what is your favorite home fittech device and why?
When I get on my CLMBR, I do a 20 or 30-minute workout with good music and engaging trainers, and I know the trainers personally and really like how authentic and approachable they are. I personally benefit from the on-demand content to follow along, the guides telling me to change the speed and reach, to adjust the resistance all that helps to stay engaged. That and then knowing that I can compete against my colleagues and friends and collect badges and complete challenges - like climbing Mt. Everest.

Are these features generally promising for products in the home fittech market?
I think engaging content and being part of a community are some of the main reasons why connected fitness has grown so much during the pandemic and will probably continue to grow in the future.

The global at-home fitness equipment market was valued at $5,545 million in 2019 and is projected to reach $11,459 million by 2027. How do you see the market specifically for digitized home gym equipment in the US 2022?
I think we're seeing an accelerated long-term trend in health and fitness here, despite the pandemic or because of the pandemic: people want to be healthier, they want to live longer. We have huge problems in this world with obesity, diabetes, and all these things that exercise has been proven to help with. So I think we're going to see growth for the whole market in the next 5 to 10 years. And I think Connected Fitness is going to be a really big piece of that because it helps with a fundamental problem. When people are at home, they don't have accountability by a trainer, they don't have somebody kicking their butt to actually do it and stay consistent. And these are things that have happened a lot in home fitness over the last couple of decades: Somebody buys a treadmill, uses it two or three times, and then it becomes a coat hanger. And I think that's where Connected Fitness has its strengths and can offer better solutions, so that people really want to stay on board. I believe in a long-term fitness trend, regardless of short-term ups and downs and I think there's a strong growth trend for the health and wellness industry overall.

Various providers of different sports like Mirror, Peloton, CLMBR or Tonal compete for the space in the living room. Who will grap a surprising large piece of the growing pie, and why?
I think unique and different modalities like climbing, rowing and fitness boxing will grow further. They're definitely going to get a bigger piece of the pie in 2022. Take Fightcamp for example, they already raised 100 million dollars, keep adding more users constantly and not to mention that all these companies are funded by top athletes and celebrities who invest in them. CLMBR is another good example with investors like Jay-Z, Novak Djokovic, Odell Beckham Jr and a global partnership with the UFC - CLMBR has just launched middle of last year and will gain a lot more traction in 2022 as more and more people learn about the benefits of the climbing modality that is superior to other workout options.

What do these companies do differently?
I just think that these companies have a strong mentality and build a brand and a community, and that's what will make the difference. A lot of people stick with it because they feel like they are part of a community, they have a connection with the coaches, they have social interaction, they can compete with friends. Aspects of gamification come into play as well. But at the end of the day, it comes down to the end user choosing the modality that they feel is most appropriate for them and help them reach their goals. And I see the names that I mentioned earlier in a strong position for this year.

Serena Williams also has equipment for her daughter in her home gym. What new target groups will home gym companies increasingly tap in the U.S. in 2022?
I definitely see the younger generations as a big area for growth. We've been talking about the middle-aged and older population, where the motivation to live longer and healthier is becoming more and more part of their lifestyle. Lack of physical exercise, computer gaming and Netflix are detrimental to the health of young people and will cause problems in the decades to come. There are so many virtual reality offerings now. The gamification of workouts is a big trend and it is exciting to see new formats trying to even bring fitness into the metaverse like e.g. OliveX and some others work on. I don't know if it relates specifically to Serena Williams' daughter, but I think the younger generation is where the next fitness wars need to be won, so we don't lose a whole generation to inactivity.

The gamification of workouts is a big trend and it is exciting to see new formats trying to even bring fitness into the metaverse. - Stefan Sillner

Is the gamification of the home gym the next killer feature?
Well, I think it's already here. Different brands have already integrated some sort of it. Peloton just added Lanebreak as their first gamified cardio experience. And I wouldn't necessarily just look at the VR side of things. Of course, virtual reality can enhance the experience. But if you go take it down a notch and look at analog devices, and what's really happened is this hybridization where you take analog devices and add digital content and make it more interactive and fun and get users engaged during the training. I think gamification is much more than just VR.

Can you give an example?
I also work for a company called HYGEAR where you have sensors that track what you're doing and then give you feedback, "yeah, do this a little bit harder" or "great workout, you've done that many reps in this amount of time, 10 more than last time. Now try this challenging workout" - almost like your own AI powered personal trainer who cheers you on and informs you about your progress. There are different ways how gamification elements can be used. I don't think there's just one way how to do it, but many possibilities how to bring more fun into workouts. How do you build them in to create intrinsic motivation for people. I think gamification needs to be seen much more broadly. All these aspects help to make training fun which can get a lot more people on board and stay consistent with it.
What factors will shape the home gym market 2022 in the USA? And why?
Especially the Connected Home Fitness market will continue to develop - but with a focus rather on quality over quantity. The more brands can focus on their target audiences in the community and really provide value to them and get them to live a healthier lifestyle and really integrate them into their communities and make them feel like they're being seen and all these social aspects.
I think some offerings may not make it in the long run especially if they aren’t unique and genuine. But we're not yet in an area where there are thousands of options. So I still see growth for new, great ideas, there's still a lot of startups in this space.
I believe in specialization, rather than offering the 5th connected mirror or bike. With a focus on something unique that can't be easily copied by somebody else. And creating a brand where you want to be part of something. I think that's going to be the future.
At the same time, there are already discussions about Amazon buying Peloton or Apple and Nike is also interested. So we might also see some market concentration or take overs of bigger players. But I think there's also a lot of room for growth for smaller and mid-sized players. It's about what your value proposition is, and that's really what matters. And most importantly, it's about making sure it's not a fad, but that people do something that works for them and stick with it. If you can provide that as a brand, you're going to be very successful.