Welcome to our third Sofa Session – the series zooming best-in-class influencer expertise straight to you on your sofas.

Joining ENGINE’s Head of Influencer Gemma Glover, this week, was personal trainer and fitness influencer Carly Rowena, professional dancer and social media sensation Danielle Peazer and Head of Marketing at Psycle London, Mark Brennan. Together, they examined how the fitness industry has adapted to life in lockdown and asked what role influencers will play as life adjusts to a ‘new normal’.

Whilst all kinds of businesses have moved online, few have flourished like those in the fitness industry. Instagram reports that numbers of at-home workouts have risen more than fivefold, Les Mill’s home workouts have grown by 900% and Joe Wick’s live views are through the roof at a whopping 800k. Attractive numbers no doubt. But what does it take to earn success in this suddenly over-saturated industry? And is success always what is seems?  


Gemma kicked off the session by asking our panel how they’ve responded to the tsunami of fitness content hitting our screens. “The key is to listen to your community and ask them questions,” said Mark. “Find out what they want and deliver that. Look at what’s working well and do more of it.” Danielle agreed, “I always ask my audience what they want to see and prioritise that. It’s trial and error, but so long as I’m putting my audience first, I know I won’t go far wrong.”


“We’d been thinking about going online for a while. COVID-19 finally pushed us to do it,” said Mark. He explained that once he accepted content didn’t have to be perfect, it liberated him to get on with making more of it. “People love that it’s authentic. So, if it’s not going perfectly, they’re fine with it.”

Carly agreed, saying that she’d noticed her less-edited content was performing well. “For the first time, everyone is in the same situation. No one is off living the dream travelling the world, we’re all just in our living rooms. I think people see that on social media too. It feels real and attainable. Comforting, even.”

“That’s the problem with celebrities who offer fitness content,” warned Danielle. “Aside from it being tricky as many aren’t qualified to give fitness advice, it can also feel inauthentic because that’s not what they’re known for.” Gemma agreed, saying that audiences can see straight through insincerity, “Your audience always know when you’re not being true to yourself.”


For years people have associated working out with body image. But now there’s a new focus on how exercise makes you feel. Mark believes the monotony of lockdown has helped people notice the impact exercising regularly has. “Because every day is the same, people are really noticing how exercise can positively impact their mental health. I hope that’s something we can take forwards. 

“We’ve been getting people who are discovering fitness for the first time. People who might not have felt comfortable going to a class in person, but doing one from the comfort of their own homes feels much more doable,” said Mark. “We’ve also been getting people for who the in-person classes don’t work. Maybe they can’t afford them or they don’t have the time, and the online classes are that bit more accessible.”

“But I do think people are ready to move on from body-weight only exercise,” said Carly who believes that this fresh wave of fitness-fanatics will quickly start looking for their next move. “People have goals and they want to learn how to meet them. I think we may see more people turning to weight training online, which will be such an exciting development.”    


“I think people expect that when the lockdown is over things will go back to normal. But things are going to be different for a long time,” said Mark. “The most important thing for us is that online, offline, the Psycle experience is the same.”

Carly believes that brands and influencers may find customers are less loyal in the future. “We’ve had access to all this great content online and it’s opened people’s eyes to what’s available, I think they’ll want more diversity than ever.” Danielle agreed and suggested that influencers will need to be more fluid and flexible with their content than ever before. “Lots of people have realised just how much is available online – I don’t think they’ll be in a rush to get back to the gym.”

Home fitness may have been around for decades, but COVID-19 has certainly pushed it into new realms. When the lockdown starts to get scaled back and eventually comes to an end, this trend will not disappear but evolve. Influencers have tapped into fitness in a way that hasn’t been done before, and those changes are here to stay.

The next of our ‘Sofa Sessions’ will take place on June 25th at 11am.

Where we will be joined by an expert panel to discuss the new opportunities in the food and drink space.

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