When Equinox launched Variis—its first foray into digital fitness—earlier this year, it came with one major caveat: In order to access it, you had to either be an Equinox member or shell out $2500 for the SoulCycle at-home bike. As of today, though, the app is officially available to everyone, proving that an accessible blend of in-person and online workouts are officially the wave of the future.
In addition to Variis’s OG streaming workouts (spin classes from SoulCycle, treadmill sessions from Precision Run, yoga flows from PureYoga, and meditation and recovery classes hosted by Equinox trainers), the latest iteration of the platform will also stream classes from Solidcore, Rumble, and TB12, plus real-time, live classes. Or you can tune out and watch Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+.
At $40 a month, Variis pricing is in line with others in the industry (the “all-access” pass required to access Peloton’s spinning and treadmill classes costs $39 a month, while Obé charges $35 a month for its streaming service). If you consider that a single, in-person Solidcore class in New York City costs $32 and a SoulCycle class will run you $36, paying $40 for unlimited access to the digital classes could save you big in the long run. This, it seems, is representative of a larger, industry-wide shift of boutique gyms using affordable digital fitness to make their selections more widely available.
Over the last few months, after stay-at-home orders made living room workouts our only option, Equinox—like many other pricey, cult-fave brands such as Barry’s, AARMY, and SLT—have embraced an omnichannel approach of blending in-person and online classes, and this model is decidedly here to stay. “I think people were kind of in one camp or the other before…but now it’s not an either/or—it’s what I call a hybrid model,” David Miller, the executive director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at George Mason University’s School of Business previously told Well+Good. “When you look at what’s emerging, people are now more open [to doing both at-home and in-studio workouts], and are going to mix and match.”
As far as luxury gyms go, Equinox has long been the industry’s gold standard, but its clubs have only been located in major metros. This means that by removing the membership requirement for Variis and shipping the Soul bike nationwide, Equinox has done away with its financial and geographic barriers to entry, placing the brand squarely in competition with other major players in the space—including Peloton.
In the last seven months, Peloton’s stock ticked up more than 345 percent, and its app reportedly saw five times more downloads in March (when gyms in the US were forced to close) than it did in February. It remains to be seen whether or not Variis will see the same sort of success, but considering a 2,009-person survey from TD Ameritrade found that 59 percent of Americans say they don’t plan on renewing their gym memberships even after the pandemic is over, it’s clear that having an affordable, digital option (that doesn’t require a full-blown Equinox membership to use) is a decidedly smart move.
With every passing day, digital fitness seems to be getting better—and more accessible—which is decidedly a good thing for all.
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