Fitness has seemed to evolve over the years, and it looks like the COVID pandemic opened everyone’s eyes to just how much we rely on gyms. When everything closed down for the pandemic, gyms were forced to lock their doors for months (nearly six months). This led people to explore other options to get in their workouts. Additionally, this raised the question of what’s the future of fitness?
The Pandemic Created a Shift
We have all experienced some changes during the pandemic – mostly not for the better. Some of us completely fell off the wagon and stopped exercising altogether, while others have made a slight pivot and found ways to fit in a workout a home.
It seemed as if the moment word got out that gyms were shutting down, the internet was flooded with consumers looking to purchase home gym equipment. Dumbbells, barbells, power racks, resistance bands, treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, fitness gadgets, and gimmicks, you name it – it was purchased. You couldn’t go anywhere online and find home fitness equipment in stock. There were even some cases where people transformed a room, basement, or garage into a full home gym – spending thousands of dollars on anything they could find in stock and tapping into their savings account.
Meanwhile, gym owners watched their own bank accounts drop due to the lack of income during the months they were closed. The unfortunate part is that many of them never opened back up, even when the mandate was lifted, and they were allowed to resume business.
What we saw was that people were becoming more welcoming to the fact that they can still get in a great workout at home – even with little to no equipment at all. Many hit the outdoors and got in bodyweight workouts while others focused more on their cardiovascular health and activities. Regardless, this pandemic created a shift in our behaviors, and some gym members decided to forgo their gym memberships, canceling them, and are now 100% focused on home workouts. Could this be the future of fitness? It very well could be. But there’s more.
The “Movement” Started a While Ago
The future of fitness may have started to shift several years ago with the infusion of digital fitness platforms popping up. Brands like Peloton, who brought a global interactive experience blew up and sparked a new trend of working out. Avid exercisers now had the ability to fit in a workout in the privacy of their own home. And while Peloton is strictly a cardiovascular workout, brands like Mirror launched that took functionality and combined it with fitness.
With Mirror, exercisers are able to transform, what looks like an ordinary mirror you’d find in a home, and created an interactive experience for the user. Mirror puts the user through various workouts, depending on their preference (including resistance training).
You can even look at entrepreneurs like the former owner of Bodybuilding.com, Ryan Deluca, who started a brand called Black Box VR, which is a virtual reality fitness platform. Anyone can purchase their system, but Ryan and his team have introduced it into various gym on the West Coast.
What’s the Future of Fitness?
This is truly the million-dollar question and one that I don’t have a definitive answer on. However, if I were to take a wild guess, I’d say the future of fitness is going to be at-home workouts. No, I don’t think gyms will disappear completely (some will), but I see the trend of working out at home becoming very appealing to most people.
PR Newswire has said that they expect the home fitness equipment market to grow by 2.86% from 2020 to 2025. Personally, I think that number is low. I think it will grow a multiple of that.
The way technological advancements have come along over the years, I see in the next 10-20 years, systems coming out that are small, compact, and user-friendly. Systems that will allow for full-body workouts along with cardiovascular aspects to them. Think along the lines of Peloton and Mirror, hooking up in a hotel room and having a baby.
Does this mean I’m no longer in support of gyms and fitness centers? No. Again, I believe they will always be around. There are some aspects of a gym that provides a whole different user experience than something like a home gym ever would. You have a vast array of equipment choices. You have the comradery and (personal) interaction at the gym. You have the accountability aspect as well, being that if you’re paying $20 or upwards of over $200 per month for a gym membership, you’re more likely to go, so you aren’t wasting your money.
However, it’s a technology standpoint, convenience, and ease of use that we need to consider. Everyone lives a busy life. Figure, it takes anywhere from 15-30+ minutes to get to the gym (one way), and then you have the drive home. Add in the frustration of sitting in traffic along with the continually rising cost of gasoline, and you have yourself the perfect storm for a pivot and shift in behavior.
Personally, I’ve created a home gym. I have gym quality equipment (resistance and cardio) that I put in my basement, and I truly have no need to go to a gym. I have the convenience of working out whenever I want, regardless of the weather and the time. If I want to fit in a midnight workout, I can – where some gyms are closed at midnight. Many of my friends have followed suit as well, and they love the ability to work out at home.
Whether it’s Peloton, Mirror, Black Box VR, or some other brand that comes onto the scene, the shift to at-home workouts (in my opinion) is going to be the appeal and the future of fitness. It’s already started, and since its inception, the technology has gotten better and better.
While there may be the die-hard gym-lovers out there who will never give up their memberships, advancements of at-home workouts could pull some of the sedentary demographic out and get them more active. While this is merely speculation at this point, I hope it’s true for the sake of Americans. But overall, these are my opinions on the future of fitness – I’d love to know your thoughts.