Fitness studios are selling remote experiences to scale their business model in Peru

“It’s like going to a Friday night rave,” said Malena Barreda, a 35-year-old Peruvian fashion designer and boutique owner. Rest of the world. “You know how you could go out and sweat it all out and meet everyone you know and meet new people? It’s just like that, but without the alcohol. Barreda is a convert from Síclo, an exclusive indoor cycling studio with more of 25 locations in upscale and exclusive areas across Mexico, Spain and Peru.

If half the fun was sweating it out with friends, it was ruined by the Covid-19 pandemic. Simultaneously, however, the pandemic has sparked a radical fitness revolution. Locked down and hit by cabin fever, people of all ages and income levels have turned to online exercise apps and platforms. Fitness influencers have seen their views and subscribers skyrocket. Fitness app downloads increased by 46% in the first half of 2020.

In Peru, a survey by Offerwise revealed that 9 million Peruvians started exercising during the pandemic, an increase of more than 31% compared to pre-pandemic figures. According to Linio, one of Latin America’s leading online marketplaces, there was a 91.5% increase in searches for sporting goods on its platform in 2021 in Peru.

It’s 2022, so Peruvians are free to go out, but now that fitness companies have had a taste of the money remote workouts can generate, they’re hoping to keep customers both at home and at the gym simultaneously. This hybrid model is especially appealing to elite workout studios like Síclo that pride themselves on selling curated, personalized experiences. Speaking to clients and executives of two exclusive Latin American fitness studios operating in Lima, Rest of the world found that by keeping their studio sessions small and personal while streaming hundreds of additional clients exercising in the comfort of their homes, companies could just have their rice cake and eat it too.

While there have never been so many workout videos available for free on YouTube, the exclusive studios ethos is what drives consumers to pay for a more personalized experience. “It’s not about fitness,” said Ale Llosa, founder of the Lima-based KO Urban Detox Center. “It’s about embracing a way of life, one that saved me and that I knew I had to share with the rest of the world.”

With studios in Lima, Santiago, Bogotá and Madrid, KO defines itself as a personal growth tool that combines boot camp training, martial arts, boxing, yoga and Eastern philosophy. Llosa said the on-demand online studio they launched in the early months of the pandemic has now become a core part of the business as it allows them to reach subscribers longer than the session of one hour training that they would usually have in person. .

When the pandemic hit, Llosa and his team raced to launch an online platform in less than a month, with instructors recording from home using their smartphones. “We reached 47,000 subscribers in over 45 countries just on this initial launch,” she said. Rest of the world, adding that the online studio allowed her to share more of the knockout philosophy than she would have during in-person classes. Since then, KO has professionalized its streaming offering, building a studio to record new classes and offering US dollar plans ranging from $99 every three months to food coaching and meditation classes for $9 a month. . At a monthly fee of 500 Peruvian soles (about $130) for in-person classes, it’s still a steal — for the tiny elite who can afford one of these services in the first place.

It’s not just on-demand fitness videos that have exploded during the pandemic: Companies like Peloton that have merged hardware and software to combine workout gadgets and screen time, in a model known as the connected fitness name, also benefited from the pandemic boom.

31% The increase in the number of Peruvians who started exercising in 2020.

Source: Offerwise

Based in Mexico City Siclo hopes to dominate the connected fitness niche in Latin America. Alejandro Ramos, co-founder and CEO of Síclo, called it a “highly curated indoor cycling boutique experience.” He said Rest of the world the startup has grown steadily through word of mouth since its inception in 2015. But to grow at the pace expected of a VC-funded startup, “we knew we had to go digital,” Ramos said. “The studios can only accommodate thousands or hundreds of thousands at most, and we’re looking to get into the millions.”

Síclo opened his first Peruvian studio in Lima’s posh Miraflores district in January 2020, just two months before the country went into total lockdown with 24 hours notice. Unable to reopen for 9 months, he finally rented out the 62 bikes he had recently outfitted the studio with to subscribers, so they could use them at home. With a frame made in Taiwan, a display built in Shenzhen, and a connecting “arm” made in Mexico, the stationary bikes (known as biSís) are arguably Síclo’s glitziest selling point.

At-home models claim to give users the studio experience, connecting them with trainers and other well-known (and sometimes famous) users. Similar to studio bikes, the biSí features a large touchscreen that allows users to stream lessons and interact with trainers via emoticons and reactions.

Llosa de KO is skeptical of the live-streaming model that Síclo relies on. “We plan to launch a new service where we help subscribers outfit their KO home corner, but we don’t think there’s a lot of room for growth in live streaming. … It’s on demand.

“We believe the future of fitness is hybrid,” Ramos said. “It’s like with movies. People don’t go to the movies every day, but neither do they want to sit on their couch all day watching Netflix.

The hybrid model certainly opens up the small market of elite (and expensive) practice studios to a relatively larger audience. While the top 1% of Peruvian families earn an average combined income of 12,500 Peruvian soles per month (about $3,200), Síclo’s $2,000 price tag (plus a $20 subscription fee) might be too high for the average consumer. Still, Síclo representatives said their biSís are currently sold out in Peru, adding that they have sold 200 domestic bikes in the country so far.

Barreda, the fashion designer and fan of Síclo’s original “raves” herself, isn’t so optimistic about the added value of all those pricey gadgets, despite selling out during the remote sessions. When asked if she might consider getting a biSí, she replied, “To be honest, you can just stream the lessons on your TV and just ride a regular stationary bike.”

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