The Fitness & Wellness Moves That Defined 2023

In the first full year of post-pandemic life, the fitness and wellness industry has seen its fair share of headlines, both positive and negative. While dealmaking has cooled off some from its pandemic-era high, there still were plenty of major fitness and wellness moves in 2023, including brand partnerships, nine-figure funding rounds and celebrity endorsement deals. Athletech News recaps the eight fitness and wellness moves that defined 2023, and forecasts what each could mean as we enter a new year.

credit: Lululemon/Peloton
1. Peloton, Lululemon Strike Content & Apparel Partnership 
Two of the biggest brands in the fitness and activewear categories joined forces in a major way in 2023. As part of a five-year global partnership, Peloton agreed to create exclusive digital fitness content for Lululemon Studio, while Lululemon became Peloton’s official apparel partner, creating co-branded clothing for instructors and fans. 
Why It Matters:
The deal marked the final nail in the coffin for the Mirror, Lululemon’s ill-fated piece of connected fitness hardware that never quite lived up to its $500 million price tag. Lululemon announced it would be officially discontinuing Mirror, instead pivoting fully to Lululemon Studio, its digital fitness platform which now gives members access to Peloton’s library of workout classes. 
For Peloton, the deal shows the connected fitness company’s commitment to becoming more than just a “bike company,” as it looks to offer different types of fitness content, from yoga to strength training, in addition to spin classes. 
What To Watch in 2024:
While Peloton has built a large following of dedicated fitness fans, the jury is still out on whether the company can successfully transition from being a cycling-focused brand to a one-stop shop for diverse fitness content. Providing content for Lululemon Studio will expose Peloton’s workouts to even more people around the world, potentially helping the connected fitness company make good on its bold expansion plans.

credit: Lindora
2. WeightWatchers, Life Time & Xponential Make GLP-1 Moves
For better or worse, the weight-loss-drug era is officially here. GLP-1s like Ozempic and Wegovy are flying off the proverbial shelves as consumers seek access to the drugs, which have been celebrated for their proven ability to help people lose significant amounts of weight in a relatively short period of time. 
WeightWatchers acquired telehealth brand Sequence in early 2023, a move that signaled the weight loss company’s shift from a food-based approach to adopting prescription drugs including GLP-1s. WeightWatchers still offers its famous Points Program, but the company has made weight loss meds a core part of its offering. 
In the fitness realm, brands including Life Time and Xponential Fitness are embracing weight-loss drugs. In November, Life Time launched its first Miora Longevity and Performance clinic, offering members access to GLP-1s such as Ozempic under medical supervision, in addition to a host of other wellness benefits. 
Xponential, meanwhile, announced its intention to acquire Lindora, a metabolic health brand with clinics offering weight-loss medications. Xponential plans to rapidly scale the brand through franchising. 
Why It Matters:
The deals struck by WeightWatchers, Life Time and Xponential show that at least some established fitness and wellness brands are willing to embrace GLP-1s, making weight loss meds an important part of their business strategy. 
What To Watch in 2024:
There’s still much to learn about the long-term effects of GLP-1s on sustained weight loss and other aspects of health. Some analysts predict that the rise of weight-loss drugs will lead to a corresponding rise in gym membership sales as more consumers become confident enough in their bodies to want to hit the gym; others have expressed skepticism about the drugs’ ability to spur meaningful changes in people’s fitness and wellness habits.

credit: Anytime Fitness/Apple
3. Apple Partners With Anytime Fitness
Apple has been pushing further into fitness and wellness for several years now, with advancements in Apple Health and the launch of Apple Fitness+. In November, the tech giant inked its first deal with a gym brand, partnering with Minnesota-based Anytime Fitness. Through the collaboration, Anytime Fitness members across the U.S. and Canada will have access to an Apple Fitness+ subscription included in their membership at no extra cost. The two companies could take their partnership even further with more collaborations down the road, Anytime Fitness CEO Chuck Runyon has told Athletech News. 
Why It Matters:
The deal marks Apple’s firm entry into the brick-and-mortar gym space, potentially signaling a major shift in how the company will approach fitness and wellness in 2024 and beyond.  
What To Watch in 2024:
It will be interesting to see if Apple partners with any other gym brands, or if the tech giant is content to ride with Anytime Fitness and its network of 5,200 locations worldwide for the time being. For Anytime Fitness, can a partnership with Apple sway consumers to choose AF over rival low-price, high-value gym chains like Planet Fitness, Crunch Fitness and others?

credit: Pvolve
4. Pvolve Inks Deal With Jennifer Aniston
Functional Fitness brand Pvolve reached a new level of mainstream recognition and notoriety this year, partnering with celebrity A-lister Jennifer Aniston. The former “Friends” star will advise on Pvolve’s marketing, product and programming strategies, as well as star in Pvolve commercials, including a strength-focused ad campaign that launched in August.
Why It Matters:
While celebrity endorsements are nothing new for the fitness industry, getting a star on the level of Jennifer Aniston is uncommon, and it bodes well for Pvolve as the brand expands its footprint of brick-and-mortar studios through franchising. 
What To Watch in 2024:
So far, the partnership seems to be bearing fruit for Pvolve: the fitness brand reported a 650% increase in branded search and a 125% increase in franchise inquiries since partnering with Aniston. As time passes, we’ll see how much Pvolve leans on its celebrity affiliation as the brand continues to grow nationwide and even internationally.

credit: Nike
5. Nike Launches Group Fitness Studios, Equipment Line
Nike is no longer just a fitness apparel brand. In 2023, the Swoosh entered the brick-and-mortar space, opening group fitness studios in Southern California, with another location planned for Austin, Texas. In partnership with FitLab, Nike Studios offers functional training and endurance workouts led by expert instructors. The sportswear giant also pushed into the fitness equipment space, launching Nike Strength, a collection of strength training equipment including barbells, bumper plates, dumbbells and kettlebells, all of which feature prominent Nike branding. 
Why It Matters:
As seen with Apple, “blue chip” companies are increasingly entering the traditional fitness space. Nike clearly believes in the long-term potential of the fitness and wellness market, announcing it would hire over 1,000 global fitness trainers to lend expertise in creating holistic fitness content, programming and experiences, presumably as part of its Nike Studios endeavor. 
What To Watch in 2024:
Nike could make significant inroads into the fitness and wellness space if the brand is truly committed to the vertical, although it remains to be seen whether consumers will latch onto the idea of visiting a Nike Studio for their daily workout. On the equipment front, could Nike become a true rival to established strength training brands like Eleiko and Rogue Fitness?

credit: Peloton
6. Peloton Announces Rebrand, New Strategic Vision
Back in May, Peloton announced its intentions to become the fitness company for “anyone, anywhere,” looking to shed its perception as a “bike company” focused predominantly on wealthy consumers. 
As part of a large-scale rebrand, Peloton launched a new fitness app with three subscription tiers, including a freemium option that offers more than 50 classes curated across 12 modalities for no cost. The Peloton App One and Peloton App+ tiers cost $12.99 per month and $24 per month, respectively. The connected fitness company also launched Peloton Gym, which offers at-home strength training workouts. 
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Why It Matters:
Peloton CEO Barry McCarthy has said that the company wants to branch out beyond cycling workouts, becoming a more well-rounded digital fitness company that makes most of its money through content rather than hardware sales. As a result, Peloton has forged partnerships with top sports teams and leagues, universities and even hotel groups as the brand looks to increase its global recognition and drive users to its app. 
What To Watch in 2024:
So far, Peloton has struggled to translate its rebrand into financial success. In its most recent earnings report, Peloton lost paid subscribers, with the connected fitness company struggling to convert free app users into paying members. Peloton has one of the most loyal fanbases of any fitness company, although many of those fans are cycling diehards. It remains to be seen whether Peloton can bring new members into the fold by emphasizing other types of fitness content.

credit: EGYM
7. EGYM Raises $225M, Preps for IPO
In July, fit tech company EGYM received €207 million ($225 million) in growth capital, closing a financing round led by Affinity Partners, a global investment firm launched by Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and former advisor to President Donald Trump. The funding will enable the Munich-based EGYM to prepare for an IPO, the company’s co-founder and CEO Philipp Roesch-Schlanderer has said.
EGYM provides smart gym solutions, including software and fitness equipment, for more than 15,000 gyms worldwide, and is rapidly expanding its North American team. 
With the investment, EGYM will also focus on further developing its digital solutions for health-focused workouts and expanding the EGYM Wellpass corporate health network, an area Roesch-Schlanderer has identified as critical. 
Why It Matters:
Funding has been harder to come by in 2023 due to macroeconomic conditions, but Affinity Partners’ investment in EGYM shows the promise of tech-enabled fitness. With even more resources, EGYM looks poised to extend its lead as the dominant fit tech provider on the market, potentially reaching even more gyms worldwide.
What To Watch in 2024:
Will EGYM’s impressive funding haul be a sign of things to come for fit tech companies or was the round more of an anomaly given the current economic outlook? The latter outcome is possible, as EGYM seems unique in its ability to offer software and hardware solutions under one brand. 

credit: BowFlex
8. BowFlex, BODi Change Names To Spark Turnaround
2023 saw a pair of down-on-their-luck fitness brands change their names in hopes of sparking a turnaround. In March, The Beachbody Company announced it would be known as BODi moving forward, a move co-founder and CEO Carl Daikeler said aligned with a shift in the company’s strategy toward inclusive fitness and wellness and away from the looks-based marketing that made the brand famous but has seemed to turn off modern consumers, especially Gen Z. 
In the fall, Vancouver, Washington-based fitness equipment maker Nautilus changed its corporate name to BowFlex, rallying behind its most popular brand. As part of the rebrand, BowFlex introduced a new color scheme, marketing campaign and at-home equipment designed to target consumers in the connected fitness era. 
Why It Matters:
Two of the biggest fitness brands of the 2000s era have struggled in recent years, but they’re not going down without a fight. For both companies, the name change has been accompanied by a major rebranding effort that could fundamentally change the way each positions itself in the fitness and wellness industry. 
What To Watch in 2024:
Will the name-change tactic employed by BowFlex and BODi give other struggling fitness companies a blueprint to follow to regain relevance, or will it prove to be a cautionary tale for fitness and wellness brands looking to return to their glory days?

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