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The New Normal? Fitness Brands Increasingly Embrace Weight Loss Meds

The New Normal? Fitness Brands Increasingly Embrace Weight Loss Meds

As consumers flock to GLP-1s, major fitness industry players like Life Time and Xponential are eager to get in on the weight-loss market

The weight loss medication market, which analysts say could be worth roughly $100 billion by 2030, may have been the most significant market disrupter of 2023, and it could prove prosperous for some fitness industry players in 2024.

Medications like Ozempic and Wegovy have caused Americans to slim down but have led traditional diet and weight management companies (see Noom, WeightWatchers) to re-strategize and forced major retailers like Walmart to take a hit with declining food sales. Even Nestlé, the largest food company in the world, is scrambling to create new vitamin and mineral-packed products as it carves out a niche for those on appetite suppressants.

Despite the negative financial impact weight loss medications may have had on other sectors, the fitness industry seems eager to welcome GLP-1 users, and several top brands are taking steps to integrate weight loss medications into their gyms and boutique fitness offerings.

Encouraging Data for the Fitness Industry?

America has long had a weight problem, with the CDC reporting that obesity prevalence is 41.9%. Research shows that people who are overweight tend to ‘self-exclude’ and actively avoid fitness centers and gyms for fear of weight-related stigmatization or negative prior experiences of being stigmatized based on their size. 

In essence, there is a potentially large market of untapped consumers who have the desire to work out in a public space such as a gym but have felt otherwise limited or unwelcomed.

Research also shows that there is a link between obesity and chronic fatigue, which also may play a part in gym avoidance. Obesity can increase the incidence of sleep apnea, which interrupts breathing patterns and disrupts the ability to get a restful sleep — leading many to feel too tired to hit the gym or a group fitness class. 

However, with the rise of GLP-1 medication use and resulting weight loss, some analysts predict that many more will seek gym membership plan, which could benefit the fitness industry overall, from fitness clubs, fitness wearables, trackers, apps, nutrition and supplements.

Plus, industry trends show consumers are more committed to their health and wellness than ever. 

Armed with a favorable projection in an industry that was only recently staring down the barrel of an unprecedented pandemic that shut the doors to gyms nationwide, two fitness industry titans have already responded to the popularity of weight loss medications.

Life Time, Xponential Invest in GLP–1 Services

Life Time, a luxury fitness and wellness operator boasting amenity-rich experiences and social opportunities for its members, has begun piloting a special clinic at its flagship Target Center health club in downtown Minneapolis.

With an emphasis on wellness, Life Time’s new Miora Longevity and Performance clinic offers a team of doctors, physician assistants, nurses and personal trainers in addition to weight loss drugs and non-invasive therapies such as infrared saunas, red light therapy, peptides, hormone replacement therapy, IV therapy and cryotherapy chambers.

credit: Life Time

Life Time plans to roll out Miora Longevity and Performance to its 170-plus locations, depending on the initial clinic’s performance — but it’s a good bet to assume it will do well, as the luxury lifestyle fitness and wellness operator has said its members have shown great interest in incorporating GLP-1s with their Life Time club experience.

While Miora offers GLP-1s, Life Time says the goal isn’t just to pass out weight loss meds. Instead, its goal is to support members with personalized, long-term, healthy lifestyle plans.

As  Life Time president and chief operating officer Jeff Zwiefel told CBS News Minnesota, pushing into the weight loss medication and holistic wellness space isn’t a novel concept for the fitness operator.

“We’ve always been dedicated to helping people live higher quality lives,” Zwiefel said. “Miora Longevity and Performance is just a natural extension for Life Time to continue to do that.”

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Xponential Fitness, an international boutique fitness franchisor, is also leaning into the weight loss medication sector, recently announcing its acquisition of Lindora, a metabolic health clinic. Lindora may prove to be Xponential’s most lucrative deal yet, casting the boutique fitness franchisor into a whole new realm of health and wellness in early 2024, when the deal is expected to close. 

Xponential will acquire Lindora’s 31 clinics and the metabolic health company’s intellectual property with plans to franchise the brand nationally and globally. 

Anthony Geisler, founder and CEO of Xponential, noted that he’s long admired Lindora’s integrated approach encompassing weight loss medications, hormone replacement therapy and IV hydration, adding that the deal allows Xponential to deliver on what he says is an increasing demand for metabolic health services.

credit: Lindora

GLP-1s Make Mark on Corporate Wellness

Life Time and Xponential are the two biggest fitness players to have laid the groundwork to offer GLP-1s, but the stage has been set for additional contenders in the upcoming year.

Increased employer-based GLP-1 coverage may also positively impact gym visits and fitness memberships in the near future.

Considering findings by Accolade revealing that up to four in ten employers plan to cover GLP-1 medications in 2024 (up from 25% of employers that currently cover weight loss medications), access to Wegovy, Ozempic and other weight management brands will become more accessible than before.  

Demand is there, finds Accolade, which also revealed 81% of HR decision-makers predict their employees would be interested in GLP-1 medication coverage. Robust corporate wellness benefits have been found to lower healthcare costs, reduce absenteeism and increase a company’s bottom line. 

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