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The gym of the future will be virtual, gamified and immersive

Your local gym will be tucked inside the local market, perhaps just a few feet away from the produce section. There you’ll don a lightweight VR headset and pedal your way through a virtual exotic world as trackers count your every moment. When you’re done, your phone will ping you to book a massage—it’ll know exactly which muscles are aching.

It’s not that far off: Today’s health-club sector offers the utmost in convenience and personalization, in part due to AI-enabled technology. And with consumers taking a far bigger interest in health and wellness, clubs are growing faster and more innovative than ever: Gyms experienced a 50% increase in revenue in the past decade, reports the Global Wellness Institute.

So what’s currently driving the gym market? And how will clubs differ in the coming years? Here are some of the business and cultural trends reshaping communal workouts:

It’s moved beyond the expected wrist tech and evolved into embedded equipment. CKO Kickboxing, for example, employs wearable punch trackers—measuring speed, intensity and punch count—in its franchise’s kickboxing classes.

Even workout-wear is getting a makeover: Smart performance wear (shirts, shoes, socks) equipped with sensor technology enhances movements. Asensei is one company developing apparel infused with sensors that detects posture, technique, and form to use data for real-time coaching. New York’s NOVA Fitness Innovation goes all in by centering the entire workout on cutting-edge tech. It relies on full-body suits harnessing electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) to create involuntary contractions within one’s muscles.

In addition, more brands are considering ways to engage clients outside of class by launching their own streaming fitness apps, a market expected to grow to $10.9 billion by 2026. Big box gyms like Crunch and Anytime Fitness as well as small cult-fave studios like Lekfit and Tracy Anderson offer on-demand virtual training platforms.

Read about all the latest fitness trend of the future below.

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