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Feb 2, 2023

“What’s trending in the corporate wellness space?”

This is a question I’m hearing more and more about the moment – especially as we’re well past the New Year, and employees are well and truly back to old (possible unhealthy) routines, and New Year’s resolutions have long since been broken.

But it’s also a question I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about just lately, reflecting back on what worked (and what didn’t) in 2022.

The backdrop we’re in is clearly the enormous change we’ve in the corporate wellness industry the last couple years.

The way companies deliver wellness solutions to staff has changed.

The offerings themselves have changed.

And, most importantly, the way we all work has changed—significantly.

So, it’s no surprise that there are some pretty substantial trends brewing that I think will shake up our industry in the coming year.

Here’s my thoughts on what three of these might be:

#1 – “Hybrid memberships” give employees the best of all worlds

Consider the following example of an employee named Kim. She works a hybrid schedule, visiting the office three days a week (Tuesday-Thursday). On the other days of the week (Mondays and Fridays) she works from home.

During her visits to the office, however, Kim works-out in the on-site fitness center and lift weights. She might even take a class from time to time, which she enjoys because she gets the chance to work out and chat with colleagues.

On Mondays and Fridays when she works from home, Kim takes a virtual fitness class through an app that’s connected to the fitness center, run by the same staff she knows and trusts. She loves the flexibility this provides. And, over the weekend, she often takes a yoga class at a local studio that her employer contracts with via the hybrid health program. This hybrid program includes one part on-site fitness center, one-part virtual fitness classes and one part access to classes at various studios allows. And it allows her to work out where she wants, when she wants.

This new type of “hybrid membership” is addressing a need I’m starting to hear a lot more about.

Put plainly, employees want and expect a seamless connected fitness experience that fits their busy lifestyles.

These “hybrid memberships” are relatively new programs and they provide employees with a combination of corporate fitness center access, virtual fitness classes and partnerships with local yoga, boxing and Pilates studios.

With the three different types of access, employees can workout at their corporate gym, at home, or on the road when they’re traveling – all with the convenience of one single membership rather than having to cobble lots of them all together themselves. In other words, it’s the best of all worlds. And it’s bigger than just a bricks-and-mortar fitness center – it’s a program.

Hybrid memberships represent the next evolution of corporate wellness.

And I think they may just be here to stay.

#2 – Personal and small group training surges

The one thing employers are telling me is that their employees are looking for more than just physical workouts.

In fact, what they’re really seeking is a more holistic approach to their health, with more personalized coaching. They’re asking questions like ‘How can I get better sleep’ or ‘What should my diet look like?’ or ‘How can I better manage stress?’

 These are all questions employees are now looking to employers to help them address.

This all makes perfect sense, considering where we’ve been during the last couple years.

Employees want to get back on track with their fitness and wellness goals. During the Covid-19 pandemic some folks developed some unhealthy habits –in terms of both diet and fitness. And the isolation of working and living at home full-time didn’t help.

Employees want to take fitness classes with colleagues. They want to train with work friends. They want that sense of community back!

These smaller, more customized training environments can give employees guidance, support and a sense of community; and we’re going to see them start to explode in popularity in 2023.

Many employees are going to take this to the next level with wearables, too. After all, more than 20% of Americans are using wearables and constantly accessing the personalized data that comes along with those tools.

Employees will work with their health coaches to start using this data to help develop more tailored, personalized workouts that will help them increase efficiency and results.

#3 Getting employees outside becomes a big priority

One employer I’ve been working with is a leading insurance company. It recently invested in a mobile open-air fitness trailer from BeaverFit that gets their employees outside on a daily basis.

Combined with programming delivered by on-site fitness professionals, this outdoor program is booming, providing employees with both physical and mental health benefits.

This insurance company is on the cutting edge of a bigger trend to get employees outdoors to workout.

The research and statistics back this up. A recent survey by the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry and McKinsey & Company, asked: ‘In which sports/physical activity categories do you expect to see a lasting increase in participation vs. pre-Covid-19?’ Of the 12 categories listed as options, 84% of survey participants selected “outdoor activity” as their number one choice.

I’m also hearing this from other people across the industry. Employees want to get outside to workout. It makes sense, too, given the mental health benefits of simply working out with the sun on your face.

With the outdoor fitness trailers like the one mentioned above, the facilities are now here to make this happen. I expect we’ll see many companies with these outdoor training facilities soon.