Much has changed in the months since the novel coronavirus COVID-19 began spreading around the world, both in people’s personal lives and, inevitably, in their professional lives. For the fitness industry, the outbreak has meant an almost total overall of standard operations, and many have begun to speculate that these changes could be less than temporary.
With new restrictions regarding gathering sizes put in place, gyms and fitness centers have been forced to reconfigure their facilities, or in many cases, close altogether. A group of people vigorously working out and breathing hard in an enclosed space is an obviously hazardous proposition, and working out outside can be tricky to organize, license, and do safely. Unfortunately, it isn’t clear when it will be safe for life to resume to business-as-usual, and for the world of fitness, it could be some time before large group classes can resume.
Amid the massive impact of the pandemic on life as we know it, gyms and fitness professionals around the world have found creative ways to continue operations, and have begun to take on a new role in the lives of their clients. Health and wellness have taken on new meaning for people everywhere, which has meant a massive surge of interest in life-long fitness, especially since being in good cardiovascular health is suggested to be an important factor for fighting COVID-19.
Basically, while gyms and fitness centers could remain partially or fully closed for months or years to come, that doesn’t mean the fitness industry is going anywhere anytime soon. People are still deeply invested in staying fit and relieving stress through working out, and the fitness industry will have to continue to evolve to meet that demand. Here’s what we can expect to see from the fitness market in the coming months.
Impact of COVID-19
The negative impacts of COVID-19 on virtually every industry are fairly obvious. For the world of fitness, social distancing has all but eliminated the ability to do business in person, and gyms and fitness centers everywhere have been forced to close down or else risk the health of both customers and personnel. While it can be hard to ignore the upheaval caused by the pandemic, there are some unintended positive consequences of social distancing for the fitness industry at large.
Resources like virtual fitness, workout apps, and home workout gear have been available for years, but were not widely embraced until recently. Previously, fitness enthusiasts were more likely to invest in gym and fitness center memberships than gear or equipment for their homes. Similarly, someone looking for guidance during their workout was more likely to sign-up for a class or attend a regular fitness group than to sign up for virtual learning or a remote personal trainer.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, at-home, on-demand, and virtual fitness tools/resources have seen enormous growth, and those fitness professionals projected to last beyond the pandemic are those that have been most ready to pivot their operations accordingly, or those that were previously offering on-demand and home fitness options.
Where purchases like smart mirrors were considered a luxury a few months ago, since the pandemic began, companies like Tonal and Hydrow have seen their sales triple. Fitness apps have seen an increase in both downloads and user hours. Fitness bloggers and influencers have discovered more views on their videos. Gyms have suddenly seen an influx of interest in virtual classes. COVID-19 has done a lot to the fitness industry, but it isn’t all bad, and going forward, there will be plenty of opportunities for growth.
While gyms and fitness centers may not be able to fully reopen for months or possibly even years, that doesn’t mean consumers need to be left to their own devices. Many gyms have taken the time during the pandemic to begin offering virtual and online classes to their clients. Some gyms stream their regularly scheduled classes to their customers from their facilities, others have special guest appearances and master-classes taught by experts conferencing in from their homes and personal studios.
Virtual classes are likely to remain popular, regardless of how long the coronavirus pandemic lasts. While virtual classes have been a necessity for everyone during the pandemic, virtual classes help to make fitness more accessible to people who can’t get to the gym for a variety of reasons even under regular circumstances.
Carers, parents, emergency and first responders, individuals working irregular hours, people with chronic illness, people lacking access to transportation, and many others have applauded the surge in virtual fitness content, and this trend is likely to stick around for quite some time.
Home Fitness Equipment
Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the general public has developed a heightened awareness of their surroundings, and are now far more cautious of using shared equipment than ever before. While many gyms and fitness centers have improved and intensified their cleaning procedures, even the most hefty sanitation won’t be quite enough to make working out at the gym comfortable for everyone.
Coincidentally, the outbreak of the coronavirus has coincided with a time when more consumer fitness equipment is available than ever before. Both casual and dedicated daily exercisers are purchasing a variety of equipment for their home gyms and home fitness-corners, and while not all items are big-ticket, many are meant as long-term solutions/alternatives to the gym. As more consumers embrace purchasing home fitness equipment, we are likely to see a resulting surge in equipment availability and variety.
For personal trainers, the majority of our coaching work has moved online, but for the same reasons fitness enthusiasts have embraced virtual classes and home fitness equipment, our clients have taken the changes in stride. As it turns out, being able to connect virtually with clients is a great way to reach more people, opening up slots for potential clients from around the world. With the click of a button, personal trainers can connect with practically anywhere from practically anywhere, no travel time, toting equipment, or renting out training spaces.
To take advantage of the surge in home fitness equipment popularity, many coaches are beginning to offer services centered around what their clients have at home. Some devices, like smart mirrors, can be used to record data, which can be shared between client and trainer for enhanced personalization. Additionally, becoming more accustomed to remote coaching and virtual learning could allow for people to stick with their personal trainers long-term, since moving or changing schedules would be less of an obstacle to continuing to train together.
Regardless of the prospects for the remainder of 2020, one this is for sure: health and wellness are more important than ever, and as fitness professionals, we are poised to take on an important role in the future of our clients’ wellbeing.
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