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Game On: How Gen Z is Driving the Gamification of Fitness Industry

The pandemic ushered in countless changes, from remote work norms to drastic alterations in consumer behavior. However, as we stand on the precipice of a post-pandemic world, we are witnessing a transformative shift that intertwines the spheres of fitness, entertainment, and gaming. The driving force behind this fascinating trend? The digitally savvy, fitness-conscious Generation Z.

Raised on the bedrock of technology and a sedentary lifestyle enforced by the pandemic, Gen Z is revolutionizing the fitness landscape. For them, fitness is not just about physical health. It's about mental wellbeing, social interaction, and, most intriguingly, entertainment.

The Fusion of Gaming and Fitness

In a time when motivation for physical activities was dampened by the pandemic, fitness took an unexpected and exciting leap towards gamification. Young consumers, largely Gen Z, are increasingly seeking exercise that doubles as entertainment, encompassing interactivity, challenges, and competitive fun.

Welltodo's 2022 Consumer Wellness Trends Report concisely captures this phenomenon, noting that "86% of Gen Z report that their passions have diversified since the start of the pandemic". This shift calls for an inventive approach from fitness brands, to blur the lines between workout routines and game-like experiences.

Echoing this sentiment, a 2022 Plos One study revealed that lack of enjoyment and motivation were major hurdles to regular exercise. These findings underline the burgeoning need for an overhaul of traditional workout formats to align with Gen Z's preferences.

Generation Z: Gaming Enthusiasts

This fusion of fitness and gaming is not incidental. It is a deliberate and intuitive pivot towards Gen Z's favorite entertainment activity - gaming. According to Deloitte's recent Digital Media Trends study, nearly 27% of Gen Z teens consider gaming as their preferred form of entertainment. Furthermore, a staggering 87% play video games at least weekly, many of whom report experiencing social and emotional benefits during the pandemic.

The Power of Gamified Fitness Apps

As Gen Z's demand for an interactive, gaming-like fitness experience grows, fitness apps have begun to incorporate game mechanics into their design and functionality. Predictions from Grand View Research suggest the global fitness app market, valued at $1.1 billion in 2021, will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.6% from 2022 to 2030.

Leading the pack are innovative apps like Zombies-Run and Running Stories. These platforms seamlessly integrate storytelling, role-playing, and real-time data to craft personalized, immersive workout experiences that are striking a chord with Gen Z consumers.

The Social Dimension in Fitness

But Gen Z's demands extend beyond personal entertainment. According to a McKinsey study, Gen Z reported experiencing unmet social needs during the pandemic, more than any other generation. Fitness brands, recognizing this gap, have started to incorporate social elements into their offerings.

One such brand is Obé, which is adding a communal angle to fitness by allowing users to invite friends to live workout sessions, followed by video chat interactions. This hybrid model caters to Gen Z's desire for community and connectedness, making fitness a socially engaging experience.

The Dawn of 'Move-to-Earn' Web3

In this innovative landscape, the fitness industry is exploring untapped frontiers such as rewarding exercisers with cryptocurrencies. Apps like Sweatcoins are pioneering the 'move-to-earn' model, where users earn crypto rewards for engaging in fitness and sports-based activities. This evolving web3 economic model caters to both intrinsic (health, wellbeing) and extrinsic (financial reward) motivators, providing a tangible incentive for physical activity.

The Bigger Picture

In summary, as we step into a new era of fitness, one thing is crystal clear: Gen Z is shaping the future of the industry. Their emphasis on immersive experiences, mental health, community, and tangible rewards heralds a revolution in how we perceive and practice fitness.

Gamifying fitness is no longer just an emerging trend. It represents a pivotal movement towards a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. Fitness brands that tune into this shift, and innovate accordingly, will likely stay ahead in the game.

For Gen Z, it's not just fitness; it's a multi-faceted, rewarding game - and they're more than ready to play!

Picture: Fittech


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