The fitness industry is undergoing a renaissance.

Driven by a desire to connect to younger consumers who have grown wary of traditional fitness techniques, brands from Reebok, Under Armour to 2XU are making sweeping gains by tapping into a fitness mindset that is vastly different from what we have previously seen.

Working out has never been more scientific or sophisticated thanks in part to a massive rethink of fitness studios which incorporate a diverse range of styles from aerial yoga to CrossFit, mixed martial arts, gymnastics and even, in some cases, pole dancing.

Earlier this year Hong Kong’s Pure Group unveiled its vision of a connected, game-led future of fitness, where technology and experience sit at the core of a new six-floor studio in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong.

The new studio is the first in the world to offer an immersive fitness experience, which has been driven by a partnership with experiential fitness group Les Mills.

The move, says Pure Group CEO Colin Grant, taps into this growing idea of a “gamification of fitness”, that aims to make exercise more fun to attract a new wave of Millennials and fitness enthusiasts.

“We’ve brought together entertainment, technology and fitness and they have merged and basically it’s the gamification of exercise. If it’s fun and if it’s engaging, you will work out more often and harder.”


Reebok Be More Human
One brand at the core of this fitness revival is Reebok, acquired by adidas in 2005, but struggled to find its own identity within this new sporting arena, until now.

Earlier this year, Reebok launched its biggest marketing campaign in more than a decade and introduced a new slogan: “Be More Human.”

“Be More Human” is being referred to as Reebok’s rally cry to consumers, urging them to live up to their full potential.

Barbara Ebersberger, VP of the business unit studio at Reebok, says the move has given Reebok a clearer identity in this new sports industry.

“As a brand we are focusing on fitness in all different shapes and forms. Obviously we are embracing and engaging with consumers and encouraging them to be more human and do what their body has been built for.”

As part of its new mantra, the brand struck a global deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship to fit out its roster of athletes.

“When we were doing research over the last two to three years, we were looking very much at our target audience – millennials or the FitGen – they are doing very diverse fitness activities.

“They are doing fitness three to four times per week and they are doing three to four different activities. They go to yoga on Monday, they take up boxing on Wednesday – there are no longer those buckets that we sometimes want to put people in.

“When we got talking to these people, mixed martial arts was a sport that came up pretty often. They felt that it was a simple, but very effective form of training that allows them to get rid of any aggression, and others said it was a fantastic way to get fit.

“We feel those people who are fitness enthusiasts are athletes and should be treated like any athlete in a competitive sport – regardless of whether you are a soccer player or into track and field.”

She says that another key part of its “Be More Human” campaign was to be more authentic in its marketing.

“Our customers want to see real people in a real environment. You can’t have someone doing a fake yoga pose or have a model hitting the punching bag. They are going to see right through it.”

Tracey Bleczinski, senior vice president of global consumer products at UFC, believes UFC’s Reebok deal is evidence of this.

“Yes, the Reebok deal supports this idea as they have built a new business unit dedicated solely to combat sports and MMA. They are investing in the sport at the amateur and professional level.”

“MMA does have a more authentic feel because everyone, regardless of age or gender, can participate. That participatory experience makes it feel more authentic to everyone that touches the sport at all levels.”




Vaughan Schwass, CEO of Les Mills Enterprises, says the FitGen and millennials are driving much of the change in the fitness industry.

“The younger generation are not interested in fitness clubs like they used to. They see them as big boring boxes,” he says.

“Our view is that experiential fitness is where the future is. It’s why the UFC is really cool and have taken off like they have.”

Schwass says his company is also exploring newer ways to bring technology to the forefront of combat sports and is exploring the role of gadgets like Oculous Rift.

“We have been testing combat programs and overwhelmingly people like it. All of our programs are scientifically backed.

And if you think it’s just for nerdy gamers. Think again.

“Let me be really clear, you’re going to get a workout. Be sure of that.”