How has lockdown revolutionised the fitness industry?

Covid-19 News | Sport | Surveys

As lockdown was announced, gyms and fitness studios around the country closed their doors, but that has not prevented the nation from keeping active.

A new report shows an astonishing 72% of those surveyed have adapted their fitness routines, embarking on outdoor activities with a mix of on-demand and live-streamed classes to stay active.

MoveGB.com conducted the survey across a mix of 2,712 MoveGB members and the general UK public to gauge how their fitness in lockdown has fared and identify the shifts in behaviour that will affect the fitness industry in a post-lockdown world.

As instructors prepare for a new era of fitness, with the possible opening of venues only a matter of weeks away, key themes have emerged – the indisputable new love of home fitness, the apprehension of returning to fitness venues and the yearning for the social interaction group fitness offers.

So, while protective measures are being put in place, such as social distancing markers, heightened hygiene standards, reduced class capacities, hand sanitising stations and bring-your-own equipment, the industry is further evolving.

As we enter this new phase of fitness, consumers will see the rise of ‘omni-channel’ classes as instructors live-stream their in-person classes and create a new blend of at-home and physical fitness memberships.

How fitness has fared during lockdown

There has been a significant shift in the perception of home fitness as 69% had not tried online classes before but 68% have now said that their perception has changed for the better.

With live-streaming as a preferred workout option, many commented that a live class with an interactive instructor creates a sense of commitment once booked. While, the convenience of being able to roll out of bed straight into ‘a class’ has removed barriers for those previously hindered by location.

One in five workout for their mental health and have pushed through to bust stress and anxieties, take their mind off pandemic concerns, slay insomnia and generally keep themselves distracted.

And almost half (47%) have discovered new workouts from having access to so many streaming classes at their fingertips and with the confidence to try them for the first time, from the comfort of their own home.

Fitness consumers have nailed new classes such as Bollywood dance, barre and street dance inspired by TikTok trends and the mental challenge of choreography, as well as perfected moves such as the splits, head and handstands and hula hooping.

Public sentiment in regard to the re-opening of fitness venues

Although more than three quarters (78%) are planning on or considering returning to their favourite fitness venues as they are missing the social aspect of working out, more than half are feeling cautious about venues reopening (55%). Those who are high-risk or living with a high-risk friend/family member will be keeping an eye on the curve and a potential second wave before considering returning. Concerns over returning to venues when they re-open are dependent on some key things: social distancing enforcement in classes, space, ventilation, and high hygiene standards.

This does not mean that people will not go back to physical classes, but they want to feel protected and will be supplementing their in-person activities with home workouts. The barrier to at home fitness has been knocked down and people have discovered they can retain their fitness using their own motivation, tins of beans, stairs, and gardening shears.

Alister Rollins, CEO and founder of MoveGB, commented: “We believe the mass adaptation and behaviour change to at-home exercise will strengthen the industry as facilities start to open. So long as the customers can still access at-home classes from their operator, they may do less in-person but more overall activity, resulting in increased loyalty and reduced churn – it will keep their motivation going.”

“Many instructor think at first they can’t compete with the slick on-demand classes available, however quality is measured by engagement – live interactive streaming where the instructor can see and talk with their customers brings the community feel of an in-person class straight to your home.”

This shift is not going unnoticed by the industry. Half of MoveGB’s fitness providers revealed that their income from live-streaming has been vital during lockdown; and almost all of them (89%) are planning to continue online and live-streamed classes even once the government allows them to re-open.

While instructors are now busy preparing safeguarding measures to protect against coronavirus when they do re-open, they are also planning how they can further develop their online offer. Many have shown interest in omnichannel delivery so they can live-stream physical, in-person classes and bring the social aspect of group sessions to front rooms across the country.

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