For obvious reasons, the pandemic has been anything but nice to the fitness industry last year. And even now, as economies reopen, there is fear that the fitness industry may never go back to its pre-pandemic levels. But is that something really to fear? Or should we all jump for joy that the industry learned to pivot to a more modern take on fitness and wellness?
Instead of going to the gym, people are staying at home to attend virtual classes. In-person class bookings fell by 85%, according to statistics, as gym members froze or canceled their memberships. When gyms were finally allowed to reopen, not many are enthusiastic about coming back. After all, with the way things are going, it’s only a matter of time before they see themselves on hospital beds, too. Everyone now understands the impact of this pandemic on businesses and, above all, on their physical health.
Impact on Local Gyms, Fitness Centers, and Private Instructors
Perhaps, the biggest impact of the pandemic was on small local gyms, fitness centers, and private instructors. The latter used to go to their clients’ homes to guide them on their fitness journey. But with the pandemic, this was not possible. Instead, those who started a private yoga service have to rely on Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet to continue delivering the services they were paid for in the first place.
Local gyms had to close down because they could no longer pay their employees while their members froze or canceled their memberships. Their fitness instructors have to rely on the internet, too, to find clients who need virtual gym classes. Some of them decided to venture into another job.
As for local gyms, while some can reopen, others will have to close their doors forever. They sold their gym equipment and machines. Beyond 2021, it’s possible to only see those big fitness centers dominating commercial spaces.
Virtual Gym Classes Are Here to Stay
Though governments are trying to bring the normal back into their citizens’ lives, it looks like virtual gym classes are here to stay. With more high-tech (but cheap) gym equipment at home and teleconference tools, the lines between in-person gym classes and virtual ones have blurred. Fitness enthusiasts can subscribe to prerecorded classes or live streaming sessions. They have access to hundreds of these classes, which they can watch at their convenience.
A legacy of the pandemic is the realization that people can juggle many things at once. Did people think that working in the office and coming back home to prep dinner is hard? How about juggling work, mealtimes, and children all at the same time? This is what happened to many parents who have to stay at home to work and take care of the kids since schools and daycare centers are closed.
Digital options are now more familiar to them. This means they have the option to substitute virtual fitness classes when their schedules do not allow them to work out in a brick-and-mortar gym. This will not end once the world comes back to normal. People also depend more on digitalized platforms in a bid for more convenient lifestyles.
Merging Fitness and Wellness
In September 2020, studies showed that over 80% of people who took an anxiety screening showed that they were moderately to severely anxious. The past year, after all, has been harsh on people’s mental health. The one good thing that came out of it is people’s ability to talk about their mental health and wellness. They are even seeking help, which, for many means that they need to be more physically active.
If you notice, even virtual fitness classes are offering yoga and meditation sessions. There was a 25% uptick in meditation classes when the pandemic started. The numbers could be better now. This will not change even as the pandemic ends and lives return to a bit of normalcy. People are going to be on the lookout for their mental health. They will care about it as much as they do their physical health.
In one way or another, the pandemic has touched everything—from the health sector and manufacturing to retail and fitness industries. There is no way to escape the unimaginable impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But for the fitness industry, there could be a silver lining to this—they’re able to pivot to a more modern and digitalized way of delivering fitness services to their clients. If today is any indication, it looks like these will be the new norm.