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From triathlons to running to weight lifting, a post-lockdown fitness boom is in full swing. After exercising at home for up to two years, consumers are returning to gyms and taking on all sorts of tough athletic challenges in the reclaimed outdoors.
What’s emerging is a community of everyday athletes pushing their bodies to new limits. This presents a niche opportunity for sports apparel and sports technology startups to provide specialized support for recovery, ranging from garments using compression to wearables with data sensors.
“Today’s fitness consumers are insatiable about how to achieve optimal performance and well-being in their daily lives,” says Lottie Whyte, founder and CEO of UK-based recovery startup Myomaster. She launched her business in 2019 after identifying a white space for recovery-focused tech and clothing.
The global sportswear market was worth an estimated $364 billion in 2021, according to Euromonitor International data seen by Business in vogue. Within this framework, performance clothing represents 96 billion dollars. However, the biggest brands have not prioritized recovery. “If you look at Nike and Adidas, they just haven’t addressed recovery in any meaningful way in apparel, tools, or footwear,” Whyte says. “I think that’s one of the reasons it’s a really exciting space for us. Behind sports fan engagement, sports recovery is the fastest growing segment of sports.
Responding to the fitness boom
The pandemic has seen an increase in online fitness activities and communities, ranging from high-intensity home workouts to running and cycling, tracked using apps such as Strava or an Apple Watch. That momentum continues as pandemic shutdowns and restrictions have eased, although home activity has understandably declined as gyms have reopened. “There’s a growing group of people committed to their fitness in ways the industry has never seen before, pushing their bodies in ways we couldn’t have dreamed of,” says Whyte.
Myomaster has secured £350,000 seed funding in 2021 and is preparing to launch a recovery-focused clothing collection this fall. “One of the biggest obstacles to people getting well is time,” says Whyte. “We thought, if we could just put [recovery tech] on people’s bodies to finish their workout and wear it — they don’t even have to think about it — that seems like a no-brainer to us. This makes it super accessible.