The landscape of fitness has been changing for a while, and a key influence on that has been app-led fitness. In 2017, it was reported that fitness app usage had grown by 330% in just three years, and it continues to grow. GuavaPass, the flexible fitness app that connects users to boutique gyms and classes around Hong Kong and another 11 cities in Asia, has just hit its third birthday: Compare Retreats catches up with General Manager Antonia da Cruz to talk about the uprise of digital fitness and the wellness trends to watch out for.
Congratulations on your third year anniversary! For anyone who doesn’t know: what is GuavaPass, and how did it get started? Thank you! We’ve come a very long way. GuavaPass is the largest social community of premium fitness studios and healthy-living experts in Asia and the Middle East. Instead of going to the same gym day in and day out, we bring excitement to daily workouts with the flexibility to curate your own workout schedule across Hong Kong. We are now already in 12 cities and counting. GuavaPass is the brainchild of founders Jeffrey Liu and Robert Pachter who were based in the US before coming to Asia. They recognised an opportunity at a time when consumers were really being cognizant of what they put in their body and how they feel, so it was the perfect time to take advantage of that. It’s now evolved into a lifestyle brand.
People are on their phones more than ever. How has our use of technology impacted our health? There’s definitely both positive and negative impacts on your physical and mental health depending on who you are and what you incorporate into your daily routine. Wearable tech has enabled people to keep track of their fitness goals, and continually challenge themselves. In emergencies, it can serve to provide medical practitioners with vital information (for example Apple’s medical ID feature which details your date of birth, blood type and emergency contacts). On the flip side, it can cause vision problems which can lead to headaches, neck strain, bad posture. And personally, I find it really affects my sleep—I used to have a Candy Crush addiction and I swear it gave me the whackiest nightmares.
How has GuavaPass and fitness apps changed the fitness industry as a whole? GuavaPass launched three years ago when our founders noticed there was a lack of flexible group workout plans available in Singapore. Since then, we have been pivotal in digitalising the fitness industry across key markets in Asia. It’s also served to help boutique studios grow their business by offering their classes on the platform.
What are your thoughts on the digital detox trend? I’ve actually never tried a digital detox, but I think it’s a great idea and I do want to try it. I’ve heard the benefits are endless but the problem is living in a fast-paced city like Hong Kong, where people are constantly on the go, it’s hard to sometimes just switch off.
What trends are you seeing this year in GuavaPass users? We’ve seen increased demand for classes that are varied in form and format: between variations of yoga, HIIT workouts including HydroFit in Singapore and Bungee workouts, we can only imagine this trend will persist. Boxing also continues to be on the uptrend.
What’s been the biggest challenge in how GuavaPass has grown over the past years, and how have you overcome it? Expansion and localisation have been key challenges. Asia is vast and has many cultural nuances that have to be factored in during expansion. The levels of tech and fitness adoption in each market also vary greatly and have to be factored in.
Apart from GuavaPass, what other fitness apps do you swear by? I use Daily Yoga, and I’m am currently trying to decide between Headspace and Calm for meditation. Do mental health apps count? If so I’m using Elevate.
Who is all involved in third-anniversary parties, and which classes/sessions are you most excited for? It’s a very exhaustive list as we are hosting 40 classes over the entire month of September, but some of our hosting boutique studio partners include: Flex Studio, XP Fitness Hub, TopFit, Optimum Performance Studio, POW Muay Thai and Fitness, Meet Yoga, HIT45, Warrior Academy, Twinkle Dance, Iso Fit, Lemon Drop Studio, Studio Fitness, One Yoga, Samantha Yoga, URSUS Fitness, TORQ, Pherform, WeBarre, BounceLimit, Life Yoga, Yogaholic, Anhao Wellness, Versus Performance, Yoga Aloha, Yoga Dimensions, Impakt, Mindful Pilates and Trybe HK. I’ve done all of these classes before and I’m quite a regular at most of these studios—it’s always exciting to try the new studios and classes that we are constantly adding. Studio Fitness recently relocated to Sheung Wan, and Yogaholic just opened up in Wan Chai, so you might catch me there.
What changes and improvements are you looking forward to over the next three years? There is a lot of room for improvement! We are constantly looking to further localise our marketing efforts and app during each release. Functionality wise, we also want to continue to build the largest fitness and wellness community in Asia and the Middle East.