2019 was a landmark year for the health and wellness industry.
Google bought Fitbit for a cool $2.1 billion. Orangetheory Fitness announced an integration with Apple that would sync Apple Watches to Orangetheory’s heart rate monitoring system. Home cycling pioneer Peloton filed for an IPO. The World Health Organization formally classified burnout as an “occupational phenomenon” in the newest revision of the International Classification of Diseases, adding that the WHO “is about to embark on the development of evidence-based guidelines on mental well-being in the workplace.” Meditation app Calm reached unicorn status. The list goes on.
At Peerfit, 2019 proved to be just as transformative. We launched Peerfit Move, our product for the Medicare Advantage population, closed our series C, welcomed our first female board member, grew our studio partner Network by 770%, and we now have over 20,000 active users across 46 states. Yeah, it was a lot.
As we look back on 2019 and prepare for the new year (and decade!) ahead, here were our biggest takeaways.
Workplace wellness isn’t just for millennials
There’s a longstanding misconception that workplace wellness programs are just for Millennials - we unfortunately hear it all the time. In short, it isn’t true. So let’s unpack that a little, shall we?
First thing’s first, a “Millennial” is anyone born between 1982 and 1997, which means the oldest can be married with kids and a mortgage, while the youngest are (or are about to be) new college grads. It’s a wide-ranging and far-reaching demographic that currently constitutes 35% of the entire working population.
As such, Millennials have been the primary driving force for a variety of changes in the workplace - from flexible or remote work arrangements to more robust and inclusive parental leave and, naturally, an evolving conversation about wellness in the workplace. Of course companies are going to adjust policies and programs to meet demand and expectations from their workforce, but it doesn’t mean that these cultural shifts only benefit Millennials.
While Millennials make up the majority of Peerfit users, they actually, on average, take fewer classes than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers per month. What demographic takes the most Peerfit classes, you ask? The Silent Generation (those born between 1929 and 1946). That’s right - grandma and grandpa take more Peerfit classes each month than their grandkids.
Small companies need wellness, too
Studies have proven time and again that the benefits of workplace wellness programs more than justify the cost, from improved camaraderie and corporate culture to increased productivity. A recent study from RAND Europe found that companies lose between 3 and 4.5 working days a year because of physically inactive employees. This accounts for 1.3% to 2% of total annual working time and is largely due to lost productivity from employees working while sick.
It's only natural for businesses to want to maximize ROI when it comes to investing in a corporate wellness program, especially smaller companies working with smaller budgets. Fortunately, when done right, wellness programs can yield up to $6 for every dollar invested. At Peerfit, companies with less than fifty employees actually had the highest participation in 2019 and 2018. This demonstrates that not only do small companies crave wellness benefits as much as larger corporations, but they use them more, too.
Studies have shown that our social networks play a pivotal role in our health, from lowering our stress levels to encouraging positive, healthy lifestyles, or even discouraging unhealthy ones. Further research has proposed that our social connections “are probably the single-most important feature of living a long, healthy, happy life.”
If you’re a Peerfit user, or even just follow us on social media, then you know community and personalization are the core of our product. Why? Because we’re all human, and we know that people are more likely to work out if they can choose where to go and bring a friend or co-worker along.
As our CEO noted in a recent podcast, “We don't want to just send you to a gym or studio. We want to send you and your friends, family, and co-workers to do it together. We know that’s the winning formula.” It’s why our name is Peerfit, and why we ask users if they’d like to invite a friend when they reserve a class. By empowering users to customize their fitness journey according to their own wants and needs, we’re able to increase participation and engagement, while providing users with a wellness benefit they’ll actually want to use.
Our studio network is custom-built around our user base for this very reason. As we added eligible lives over the course of 2019, we added studios partners right alongside them - over 10,000, in fact.
We also created a monthly membership option for the first time. If someone wants to go to the same facility every day, and facility owners want to offer it as an option to Peerfitters, who are we to say no? Based on that demand, it wasn’t a surprise to us that over 40% of users put their credits toward a monthly membership this year.
Checking all the boxes
“Wellness” is a broad term, and our well-being is multifaceted. Our physical, mental, and emotional health all play a part, and, because of that, it’s paramount that wellness programs “check” all the boxes. That being said, it’s easier than one might think.
By simply getting employees to be more active, companies are able to address employees’ well-being holistically and, therefore, “check” all the necessary boxes. The national Physical Activity Guidelines recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of “moderately-intense” or 75 minutes of “vigorously-intense” aerobic activity a week. Unfortunately, almost 80% don’t, and nearly half of American adults have at least one chronic disease - many of which are preventable and can be minimized, if not outright avoided, with regular exercise.
Evidence has suggested weight training can help prevent heart attacks and stroke, and consistent physical activity boasts a wide range of positive physiological effects: increased energy levels, better sleep, weight management, stable blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and even improved mental health.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five American adults lives with a mental illness, and an additional one in five has an anxiety disorder. Less than half of them receive formal treatment, but workouts like yoga have been found to ease symptoms and effects of conditions like depression and anxiety. This clearly demonstrates that employers looking to better their employees’ health, and all that encompasses, should look to providing their populations with access to exercise. Programs like Peerfit empower employees by giving them flexible access to a wide variety of fitness experiences - from local, boutique studios to traditional gyms and everything in between.
Since 2017, we’ve been on a mission to redefine corporate wellness. We’ve never believed wellness should be one-size-fits-all, and it’s clear we’re not the only ones.
*The data displayed is not representative of macroscopic corporate wellness trends in the US. All data is specific to Peerfit users sponsored by their employers and does not include Peerfit users with a baked-in option through their health plans.