The Impact of Live Streaming on the Fitness Industry in Singapore


1. Introduction

With barriers to entry being much lower, the market has been overly saturated with influencers. However, the influencers that have managed to stand out through popular social media platforms are suitably compensated for their efforts in the form of sponsorships from companies, endorsement deals, and also the collection of revenue from related events. In turn, the influencer’s image is enhanced and is seen as an expert in that particular domain.

There were a growing number in the fitness industry who have chosen live streaming Singapore and social media platforms as a means to share their experiences or techniques. Most of the time, with the aim of capitalizing on their followers as an added income stream. Without the weight of a physical business, these fitness professionals (influencers) need not pay for things such as rental, utility, and insurance as compared to those who belonged to a physical studio.

In this study, live stream service aimed at the promotion and sharing of fitness-related content will be explored, and this phenomenon is best observed in the form of internet-grown influencers.

Four Singapore social media fitness celebrities/stars were asked about why the launch of the particular social media fitness platform was launched in Singapore. The answer was simple: with a booming industry full of affluent individuals and a society willing to put in the hard work to look good.

The Singapore fitness industry has grown multiple folds in recent years. Not only are the number of fitness enthusiasts on the rise, but there are also a growing number of fitness professionals making use of social media platforms to profit from their expertise in the industry. So much so that many technology platforms are choosing to launch their product in Singapore.

1.1. Background of the Fitness Industry in Singapore

The fitness industry in Singapore has experienced significant growth after 2010, propelled by numerous government initiatives to promote fitness and wellness among Singaporeans. Fitness centers, which typically include both public and private gyms, are essential components of the fitness industry. Well-established locations such as California Fitness, Fitness First, and Pure Fitness still dominate the branded gym segment. Nevertheless, in the last five years, the gym business has undergone considerable changes. SMU Lee Kong Chian scholars, Luo Yiwei, Eileen Lum Yi Ling, and Ho-Thuy-Dung (2017) note that the fitness arena has been widening, with a steep increase in the number of low-cost facilities, also known as budget gyms. According to their observations, budget gyms seem to have embraced digital services at a faster pace than traditional conglomerates in terms of digital site functionality or live streaming fitness classes.

1.2. Overview of Live Streaming Services

The boom of live streaming fitness classes has not only taken Singapore by storm, but also the rest of the world including China, USA, and UK. A current trend reveals that numerous studies describe the trend in the field of digital and computer-mediated fitness, including research studies conducted for health and wellness technologies, online health communities, and integrated technology-based devices. In fact, showing the most watched fitness videos in Singapore, the statistic unveils that sports-based workout is a popular genre among Singaporeans. According to Susie Howard, who is the Living Room Trainer of Fitness First, fitness sessions targeting the entire body and incorporating both strength and aerobic exercises also appeal to the audience.

The boom of live streaming has not only helped individuals to live-stream an activity to the virtual world instantly, but it has also helped socialize individuals through likes, messages, comments, and interactions with virtual friends. Other than VOD programs available for customers at their convenience, the instantaneous feature along with two-way client-host interaction has differentiated live streaming from other services. Live streaming applications have also helped socialize individuals through likes, messages, comments, and interactions with virtual friends. The essence of live streaming services lies with hosts who are broadcasting an activity (e.g. DJ or fitness instructor hosting a live fitness session) and service users who are able to watch or interact via instant messaging.

2. Benefits of Live Streaming for Fitness Businesses

Certainly, losing friends who want to gym with you is a common problem for many fitness business models. A successful appointment for the gym could have been good marketing. Online advertising costs per customer differences will be a key determinant of how much demand exists for live streaming. The opportunity for customer relationship management, remote drop-ins, and coordination also draw in the border of loyalty. People talk to their consumer brands a lot. Fitness studio framings could make a lot more additional content than just free live streaming to crack the word-of-mouth marketing matrix for the component of potential customers who will not come in just because of visibility. How much public content can gym management produce to be competitive in its level of advertising and interaction?

Technology has enabled an entirely new form of business. By using live streaming, fitness studios can take advantage of the publicity and mitigate the unattendedness of their physical classes. There are a few reasons why live streaming could be a great avenue for fitness studios. Physical fitness experiences are inherently visual and distinct from many online experiences. Not all hooping, yoga, or dance classes are created equal. Even as a professional practice, how they look is a form of advertising. Not everyone feels comfortable going to a class, and the gym is still a private thing for many people. Even with many online options, many people still prefer exercising with a local studio community – it’s a whole experience, but with more bonus features than being a solitary exerciser or fitness DVD fanatic.

2.1. Increased Reach and Accessibility

With the shift to online fitness guides, live streaming allows personal trainers an unlimited number of interactions with viewers via live chat, which can closely emulate the actual physical presence of a personal trainer in creating an improved overall workout experience. Being able to interact personally and have their questions or concerns immediately answered instead of having to browse through the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section has been shown to be a more helpful form of instruction for the users. further analyzed that consuming media is most helpful when viewers are able to attain immediate feedback in satisfaction of their concerns. With this live streaming brings on a two-way interaction, enabling the personal trainer to be in touch with the workout community.

The gym and studio are no longer the only ways to keep up with your fitness routine. The convenience of having one’s personal trainer, who is relatively known by people involved, share in turn their demonstration of their own fitness efforts and how they can show similar results. This in-person support, on top of the physical environment of the instructor, helps to increase motivation and energy for those attending, as they are able to acquire both positive reinforcement and feedback.

2.2. Enhanced Client Engagement

In group-based settings, found that face-to-face interaction plays an important role in learning. In group exercise classes, real-time interaction was found to stimulate increased concentration, motivate clients to become more involved in the class, and create an enjoyable workout experience. When clients feel part of a fitness community, they are also more likely to feel a sense of support and belonging to the fitness brand, benefiting both clients and the fitness business. As Singapore moves towards becoming a more virtual and digital society, a live-streaming platform is important for client retention and service engagement. Such a platform can provide an online experience that can empower and motivate clients before, during, and after the workout.

The use of live streaming provides clients with a heightened experience during a workout session. The interaction between both trainers and clients and amongst clients is shown to be enhanced when the clients participate in live or real-time training sessions. It allows clients to receive personalized and immediate feedback and encouragement during the workout session. For instance, personal shout-outs can be given, or questions may be asked and answered real-time if they need clarification on the workout. Personalized feedback can also be provided as the instructor observes the clients’ form, thus enhancing client learning and development. Also note that, through live interaction, clients and staff are able to build and maintain relationships, which overall enhances the client experience, leading to a higher level of satisfaction.

3. Challenges and Solutions

In the current situation under the COVID-19 pandemic condition, fitness trainers may find no better opportunities than abandoning their original business mode and upgrading to live streaming to undertake live telecast as providing online fitness services. There are many imaginative ways that fitness trainers can add value to health by virtue of the new prototype of Live Video business model marketing. First of all, we must recognize many informative emerging multitudes of fitness trainers that involve marketing. The purpose of health and fitness is populating, and consumers encourage others to emulate those qualities they perceive as desirable.

The impacts of live streaming on fitness trainers under the current pandemic condition are many. However, people need to appreciate the courage of fitness trainers to learn to go online by facing challenges such as earning, influence and competitiveness, profit model, personal limitations, time zone restriction, and network problems. These can be solved partially because the resources under this pandemic condition are not equal. If some people are having livestream services, what about other people needing offline services? The whole fitness industry will have to face these challenges too. At first, it began from China on January 2020, then, Singapore implemented the first PHS on 7 April 2020, and it has appeared on the horizon since the outbreak of COVID-19.

3.1. Technical Challenges

There are also potential privacy issues from using a high-quality video camera in a private home environment, particularly in fitness content where the audience members are usually female and the instructor is usually male. Once the mannerism of the regular audience or the broadcaster is recognized, or if a high-resolution screen recording of the broadcast is made, which can be resized and/or used in an application that facilitates the creation of fake video images, such as photo editing software, video anonymization could be bypassed. Such privacy concerns may deter some FITCOM creators and decrease the variety of fitness content categories that are offered in live streaming.

Although the resolution of the camera image has improved dramatically over the years, the way webcams are designed, with a limited angle of view, can hinder a broadcaster’s ability to move very far away from the camera, particularly when the camera is placed near the periphery of the webcam image (just outside the edge). Even when the camera is centered correctly, moving back too far can cause the broadcaster to appear very small. This causes problems for fitness streams that require movement with a large range, as fitness instructors have to adjust their movements for the camera so that their audience can see them clearly.

The compressed growth in the adoption of webcams and live streaming has also created technical challenges that are yet to be resolved. Webcams and live streaming technology were originally created for relatively stationary uses such as video phone calls and surveillance. But in the field of gaming, and increasingly in areas such as personal fitness training, live streaming is typically used to broadcast highly dynamic content to an audience.

3.2. Content Creation and Delivery

Taking into account his own fitness-related target audience, he selects a certain type of music, fits the BPM to his target heart rate for each scenario, begins to design movements, makes connections of movements and music, makes a set plan, and lastly, begins to fine-tune and edit. He even thinks of adding in other movements that can showcase the beautiful scenery in the video. He wishes to be positive and to be able to connect with his viewers, thus he wants to appear as though he is guiding the person in real time.

The combination of high-quality equipment and end-to-end cloud service is enough to support a fitness business. However, creating good workout content is not only defined as doing physical things in front of the camera, but rather engaging and visualizing the workout so that the viewers can follow and participate. In order for the fitness content to be effective, spiritual satisfaction is also required. During the live streaming session, feedback or encouragement from viewers acts as motivation to increase confidence and acceptance. Therefore, to gain more support, maintaining good interaction is essential. The compatibility between the live interaction and the workout is an important factor that determines the business revenue or success.

4. Case Studies

After comprehensively reviewing current literature, which highlights a lack of understanding of live streaming in the services sector, direct experiences from customers who attended live streaming during the COVID-19 “Circuit Breaker” in Singapore indicated weak instructor-student interaction and no branding effect. Given the disadvantages detected, it is commonly perceived that not many studios are ready to encourage the use of live streaming, thus pushing the demand behind.

Data were collected through in-depth interviews and participant observation, mainly from fitness live streaming at the studios. The study identifies key themes critical in influencing the attitude of studios towards fitness live streaming. It could provide studios that are about to embark on live streaming with useful insights to design their streaming strategies for better penetration.

This paper aims to understand the impact of fitness live streaming on Singaporean studios, drawing from primary and secondary data. The study adopts a single case study approach, focusing on three boutique studios offering fitness classes: Orangetheory Fitness, CruCycle, and Pure Fitness.

In Singapore, some boutique fitness studios have started incorporating social media strategies to enhance their presence. They have included live streaming classes as an innovative move, not just to increase revenues, but to stay ahead in the live streaming game. Although there are limited studies on live streaming, this trend calls for deeper insights, given the significantly increasing number of fitness live streams from Singaporean studios.

4.1. Successful Implementation by Local Fitness Studios

Fitness Studio 3 was able to carry out high-quality live streaming class experiences for users at competitive prices. The reasoning behind this was the side-by-side stance approach and appropriate camera view when doing exercises. Further recommendations in the study would be to adopt changes in the approaches of providing visual presentations and find ways to convey exercise modifications more precisely. Recommendations to be considered are different landscape orientation during live streaming and ensuring the audio and video synchronization is able to effectively substitute close circuit connections of users in physical classes.

Fitness Studio 2 chose to carry out the live streaming from outdoor exercising to enhance the satisfaction of clients and enable them to enjoy the city skyline scenery during their workouts when physical classes were no longer available. With appropriate sounds and visuals, the mood and standard of classes can be increased with no extra financial costs.

A recommendation for other fitness studios to improve live streaming sessions conducted from indoor exercising sites would be to have a fixed video streaming area that prevents shakes whenever users purposely face the camera away from the instructors when doing the exercises. This can be achieved through methods to increase space, rearrangement, and clutter-removing formations.

Below are the findings that contribute to how local fitness studios in Singapore were able to implement live streaming successfully and carry out their operations effectively, contributing to the significant growth of live streaming in the fitness industry. Fitness Studio 1 was able to carry out quality live streaming classes for their clients. The reasoning behind this was the environmentally controlled workspace and the necessary level of space for the trainers to carry out the workouts effectively and efficiently.

4.2. Lessons Learned and Best Practices

By extrapolating from evidence on web-based exercises, we provide practical advice for educators and managers wishing to make the best use of this channel, consider potential implications for future service delivery, and identify profit and growth opportunities. This paper should not be seen as the study of live stream exercise’s ability to accurately represent the services offered at a specific club, but rather how live stream exercise can push new, exciting, and engaging services into homes. This investigation has shown that live stream services are already being offered as complementary or add-on services to existing members and used as a means to maintain memberships. Fitness professionals understand doing live stream services will help keep the current members engaged and possibly attract new members post-lockdown. One thing for sure is digital media adoption is accelerating under these extreme circumstances.

Although live streaming currently offers relatively low interactivity for exercise sessions compared to in-person classes, we believe it has lots of potential to enhance client engagement through strategies such as shoutouts and instant responses to comments and chat messages during the class. We have also observed that delivering background music through a user’s device can be more technically challenging and thus we plan to explore providing background music separately through a streaming account in our future classes. This study is meant to provide a snapshot of live streaming exercises and their potential for success in the fitness industry. With focus given to the specific introduction of additional live streaming services due to the COVID-19 lockdown, we revisited practical, marketing, and teaching considerations for establishing live streaming as a helpful channel.

5. Conclusion and Future Trends

We anticipate that aesthetically appealing, technology savvy, and effective business service strategy through the application of real-time interactive streaming and innovative fitness curriculum discussion will form the basis for future research paths and augur well for the expansion of the fitness live streaming services on business ‘access to artists’ and customer wellbeing. The ongoing desire for live streaming services that are evolving and have become increasingly central, to give the customer an enriching customer experience. Future research associations can contribute to the fitness industry within two main ideas. Firstly, the role of customer business interaction within a service model is still largely unaddressed, omitting some disruptions of modern sexuality. Secondly, research into fitness service providers in relation to both a digital service strategy and a human service environment will make to improve the framework, enrich it with new features, and ultimately contribute nearly to the screening of none. With the exponential growth of live streaming in the wellness industry, the opportunities for online fitness seizures are endless.

Singapore’s fitness industry is no longer limited to offline transactional services. Through this research, it was found that the growth of fitness live streaming has become increasingly central in wellness firms’ business strategies. Our results suggest that stakeholders are drawn towards adopting a differential approach, which focuses on strengths beyond the capacity to give workout instructions. Businesses have strengthened human and social aspects of their service offerings to offer value differentiation. Also, businesses have reached customers as if they were part of a strong community, with the intention to wrap fitness services around a superlative customer experience. These insights shall continue to uphold the significance of relationships within a fitness experience, the unique value exchange patterns servicing customers, and the determination of how to create mutual fitness profits during an era when health and well-being are in the center of practically everyone. The paper concludes with discussions on further work and the limitations of the study.

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