Apple Fitness+ launches tomorrow.
It feels like nobody cares about this launch! Like I mentioned in previous articles, the launch of Apple Fitness+ will solidify digital fitness as a cultural norm.
If you're a fitness trainer, I strongly suggest following Apple Fitness+, and even subscribing to the service if you have an Apple Watch. Here's why.
Best case scenario, 2021 will bring in-person fitness back to relevancy (you know- with the vaccine and all).
Worst case scenario, digital fitness is here to stay and trainers have another year to figure out whether coaching digitally is the career for them.
In the case of the latter, Apple will serve both as fitness' best diplomat, but also the industry's biggest competitor.
Why? Because Apple has done the same in other verticals, and very successfully.
1. Wireless headphones with AirPods. Not long ago, wired earphones were still the norm. Today though, not a single person will look twice at the white broccoli-looking devices in your ears.
2. Personal computing with iPads. My mom knows how to check her email. Barely, but still- I'm proud. And it's not because of Windows. The ubiquity of Apple's tablet, with the simplicity of iOS, made it easy for anyone to complete digital tasks like browsing the web or checking their email, without a full-fledged laptop or PC.
When Apple Fitness+ was announced, Peloton CEO John Foley said this.
"They’re not coming into that [hardware] category,” Foley said about Apple. “They’re just going to be the content. And we think the special sauce, the magic, is our connected platforms and in order to work out at home you need a stationary bike if you’re going to be biking, you need a treadmill if you’re going to be running."
The reason why Apple Fitness+ will shift digital fitness is the same reason why Peloton CEO John Foley is wrong in his defense that "they're [Apple] just going to be the content".
And that reason is the Apple Watch.
For the unaware, Apple Fitness+ requires an Apple Watch in addition to its $9.99 monthly subscription.
To any fitness-apt person, they'd pass, right? "So I need to buy an Apple Watch?... and pay a subscription every month?" is probably what you're thinking.
But stop and consider two important points.
- Peloton is currently valued at over $35 billion
- Apple Watch has been dominating smart watch sales for years. (In the first half of 2020, Apple owned 51.4% of smartwatch sales globally, with Garmin coming in 2nd at 9.4%)
While I think Peloton's stock is overvalued right now, Peloton's popularity is a true testament to the importance of fitness even during a reeling economy.
The Apple Watch is certainly not a bike, or a high-end treadmill, but here's where Foley is missing the point.
Apple is not waging a battle between Peloton and its hardware. If Apple is picking a fight with anyone, it is against personal trainers by leveraging the company's monopoly on integrated hardware with iOS and bundling it with a premium fitness service.
I understand calling Apple Fitness+ "premium" is a long shot, especially when Peloton is in the conversation. But when you have Apple's global distribution, you can get away with being just a little bit better and charging for it.
Apple hit over 7 million watch sales in Q1 this 2020 alone. By offering a free trial to Apple Watch owners, in just a snap- Apple Fitness+ effectively enables an addressable audience of approximately 100 million Apple Watch owners (Series 3 and up).
By this point, I hope you're beginning to see why Apple Fitness+ will run in parallel or against the personal training economy, depending on your optimism.
Try selling a virtual personal training plan, there's still a lingering mindset that digital fitness is not worth paying for.
Digital-first fitness was a by-product of COVID-19. All of a sudden, trainers were expected to monetize digitally. Trainers started posting the same flavor of different workouts, and viewers built the expectation that workout content is free. (Even the biggest names were hosting donation-based IG Live classes.)
Do you see why Apple Fitness+ is important now?
No, the service isn't a business tool for coaches- but unlike Peloton, Apple Fitness+ creates a playbook which looks similar to the only way I see trainers making a substantial living digitally in 2021 and beyond: subscriptions.
Subscriptions are affordable ($10), accessible (on-demand) and auto-billed (predictable sales). They're just very hard, and they require a greater dedication and consistency in comparison to traditional 8-week PDF programs.
Just like Apple did with a pair of wireless earphones and a ten-inch tablet, Apple Fitness+, along with the Apple Watch, will make fitness feel less like a luxury, and more like a cultural necessity, and ultimately that's going to help personal trainers.
Instagram Guides Launches
Have you seen Instagram Guides in the wild? I haven't, but it's now publicly available for all users; previously, the feature was limited to select wellness creators.
What is it?
Before the what, it's important to know the why of any new Instagram feature. Usually, the answer will always include, "Instagram does not want you leaving Instagram", and the launch of Instagram Guides is no different.
Guides are Instagram's version of longer form blogging, like the one you're reading now. But Instagram is not a WordPress. Unlike a general purpose website on the internet, Instagram begins with a video or a photo- not text.
From an artistic and idealistic point of view, Instagram is a place for creators. From Facebook and its earnings' point of view, Instagram is- still a place for creators, but creators that are businesses- or ones that can influence users toward either their own or another business that pays for Facebook ads.
That's why Instagram Guides is not called 'Blog', even though it looks like one. It's meant for creators to provide suggestions to products, places, and posts- perfect for influencers.
But how can personal trainers benefit from this?
If you're a fitness professional who isn't selling a product or sponsored by affiliates, there's still some benefit to creating Guides.
Keeping your greatest content fresh
There's always value to curating quality thematic content, even if they are your own. "My Top 10 Bodyweight Workouts" could be a great way for you to resurface old posts that took you long to film, edit and revise. Guides can be a great way to keep your content evergreen, that is- continually relevant information.
Build authority and trust
Guides can also be a great way to build trust with your audience. If your Instagram page is light on content, it may help to curate other products and posts that you've personally used or can vouch for. With enough guides, it's possible that users start following you for your honest and handy curations.
You might be thinking: if I refer people to a post, how am I benefitting Instagram's ad business?
Asking those questions will take you down a rabbit hole.
Just know- when you visit a Facebook Page or Instagram Page, the Page owner can create ads targeting page visitors. So even if your Guide does not point someone towards an ad-based post now, you are still benefitting that Instagram page. How?
In short, Instagram authors you link to can create a custom audience in Facebook Business Manager, and retarget you in the future with something else. Ominious, I know.
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