Almost all aspects of life changed during the coronavirus epidemic that gripped most of the world in 2020/21. The fitness industry could not outrun the virus, with gyms, spas, amateur sports teams, and even professional competitions hit.
Every area of business and life was put on hold. From the Tokyo Olympics to Euro 2020. Sports betting in California to leisure centers in London. Gyms to bars, hotels to cafes. There was no escape.
We were advised to stay in our own homes for extended periods during the lockdown in a bid to slow transmission of the virus. It was more important than ever before to focus on physical and mental fitness. But how could people do that while the shutters were down on our favorite keep fit spots? Not easily is the answer to that question, but millions made it work.
Everyone connected to leisure and fitness had to adapt, make changes to ensure they kept fit, and earn during the worst months of COVID-19. It was, at first, temporary measures, but many of those changes could be here to stay. The fitness industry, as we once knew it, has changed forever.
Let’s look at some of those changes and predict which ones will stay and which are best forgotten as we move back towards normality.
Home workouts may last the pace
OK, so home workouts are nothing new. People have preferred to follow an instructional fitness video from the comfort of their own homes for generations. It was once the choice of those who felt too embarrassed or short on time to hit the gym. It soon became the only option for most. Stay-at-home mums were joined by professional athletes, including football stars and boxers.
The home workouts come in different forms. There is the traditional DVD that you can pop on and follow at a time that suits you. The more modern version, of course, was the YouTube video. Choose a workout that suits your style and your ability, clear some room, press play, and away you go.
Pros – workout when it suits you, no need to leave the house, enjoy your shower after.
Cons – sweat splashes on the walls, difficulty to get motivated, the chance of interruption from family.
The great outdoors just got greater
It’s always been there; we just never viewed it as a place to train before. The great outdoors. Right on your doorstep, it’s open 24/7, it’s free to use, and you have a lifelong membership. All you need is the weather to suit – it can’t be too hot or cold, too wet or dry – and you are off and running, literally.
The obvious choice was to go for a run and build cardio. It could be a long-distance, enjoying the peace of getting the miles in. Or it could be a short distance, going a few times around the park while the kids played. It was always popular, and during the months of lockdown, it got a lot more popular. Runners weren’t the only ones seeing change, however. With gyms closed and personal trainers unable to work, pop-up gym classes appeared in parks, car parks, gardens, just about anywhere with space. The basic gym equipment that was once hated, such as weights, skipping ropes, and even the heavy truck tires, became our new favorites.
Personal 1-2-1 training outside started things off before group sessions as restrictions on the number of people able to meet outdoors eased.
Pros – fresh air, sunshine, showing off your excellent form.
Cons – an audience, rain, no toilet breaks.
Just like riding a bike
Sales of bicycles rocketed during the lockdown as people wanted to shake off the shackles, escape the house and ride into the tranquillity of the countryside. Those lucky enough to purchase a bike before the costs hit the roof, geared up and pedaled.
A great workout, perfect for burning fat, building muscle, and improving cardio. It was just a little more difficult for those living in the city, but fewer cars on the road improved safety. The humble bike ride has always been a favorite and won’t be going anywhere.
Pros – escape the city, fresh air, easier on the legs than running.
Cons – bugs, soreness in sensitive areas of the body, the look of disgust from passing motorists.