Why Fitness DVDs are Sticking Around

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In junior high school, I bought what seemed at the time to be the most advanced stereo known to man. Its features included an AM/FM digital display radio, a double cassette player, and a record player. I fondly remember listening to my dad's Beatles vinyl of Revolver -- which had such classics as Eleanor Rigby, Tax Man, Yellow Submarine, and Good Day Sunshine, as well as the lesser-known but nonetheless moving song For No One. By college, I had graduated to listening to music solely on a cassette player. I was the last of my group of friends to make the jump to CDs. A few years later, Apple released the iPod. After some hemming and hawing, I bought one and joined the iTunes legion. I later hopped on the Pandora bandwagon, and then subscribed to Spotify. Digital music is here to stay and the idea that we need a physical album of any kind in order to listen to our tunes is gone for good.

Just as the music industry has been massively disrupted over the last 20 years by technology, the fitness video industry is being disrupted today. From Jane Fonda to Gilad Janklowicz to Tony Horton, workout programs viewed on home televisions have been huge hits and have motivated millions to exercise in the comfort of their own living rooms. Betamax gave way to VHS, then DVDs took over, and new HD and Blue-ray formats followed. Today, there are compelling alternatives to viewing a fitness program on a DVD with a TV.

Streaming workout videos on YouTube and Hulu fitness channels are available with the click of a mouse, Chromecast, Roku, or Apple TV remote. All we need is an internet connection to gain access to high-quality and often free workout programs, complete with high-energy motivational coaches, such as Jillian Michaels and Cassey Ho. There are countless workout apps available on smart phones that aim to motivate, track, and inform us while we run, circuit train, hold yoga positions, and more. There are more wireless options today than ever, including fitness trackers, watches, and even earrings, mentioned in a previous blog of mine.

With all these emerging technologies, do workout DVDs have a chance? For now, the answer is absolutely yes.

First, fitness DVDs are a unique breed because people enjoy working out in a single location – in front of their television. Peter Castro, Vice President of BayView Entertainment, a studio that produces and distributes fitness videos, says, "If any segment of the DVD market has the stamina to survive, it's fitness. Unlike movies or shows most people watch only a handful of times, workouts are often replayed daily. Fans generally want to experience them in a single location – often a living room or basement."

In addition, the fitness DVD industry is large and growing. IBISWorld reports annual industry revenue of $300 million in 2014, and projects a five percent growth this year. The biggest player in the space is BeachBody, known for its P90X and Insanity workout programs, and these programs are delivered through DVDs. BeachBody is launching a streaming, on-demand option for viewing select programs in March, but workouts will continue to be distributed via DVD.

Furthermore, many find workout DVDs compelling and effective. Unlike a more virtual media form, DVDs take up physical space, and this encourages their buyers to use them. An app is easy to delete or ignore. A box of slick DVDs is not. For those who do not belong to a gym or have extremely limited schedules, that time in front of the TV engaging in rigorous exercise using a DVD workout can be quite effective. As nutritional website CalorieLab states, “The DVD’s greatest virtue may be that they nullify the time-honored excuse, ‘I just can’t find the time.’”

Just as the saying goes, “Father Time is undefeated,” I think it’s safe to say that new technology eventually ends up on top. Once we become more accustomed to alternative ways of viewing workout videos, fitness DVDs are likely going to go the way of the record. In the meantime, let’s enjoy our fitness DVDs, just as I did when I listened to that Revolver vinyl years ago.

We'd love to hear from you. What workout DVDs have you found most effective and why? Comment below or on our Facebook page at facebook.com/flytefitness, or tweet us at @flytefitness.

Be Flyte Fit,

Jeremy Greenberg

Co-Founder & CEO
Flyte Fitness