I have helped my family run All Fit All Ages Gym for twenty years. As a small business we’ve had our share of ups and downs. Who could foresee the current situation? The pandemic has obviously dealt a heavy blow for those of us in the Fitness Industry. It’s left many businesses scrambling and wondering what’s going to happen next. We’re left wondering where the industry will go from here. When I look at the current landscape, I’m approaching it with a sense of optimism. The industry is experiencing a boom with at home online programs. Call me old school, but I think people need human interaction. People like being a part of a social group at the gym. I feel like our industry will experience a surge like never before. Let’s take a look at the current trends and see which way our industry is headed.

According to an article on https://impactmagazine.ca/ by Brenda Drew “Other smaller gyms and fitness studios, such as Fit in 30 Minutes in Vancouver and Success Fitness in Toronto, say they consider themselves lucky to still have been able to operate despite revenue drops of between 30 to 50 per cent.” With such a drop in revenue many facilities have had to lay off staff and keep amenities to a bare minimum. At our gym we do not have internet or cable TV. We have to keep our expenses to a minimum while providing a safe environment.

Online Training:

“Home gym equipment has seen a 300 per cent increase in sales since the pandemic began and with the beginning of summer” in 2020. There’s no question we’ve seen a surge in online at home programs. Yes, it’s the current trend but like any trend it is bound to change as circumstances change. Programs provided by companies such as Peloton are very popular. They offer programs for spinning, strength, meditation and Pilates. Their app is free to download and a membership costs $12.99 per month. A different version of the app specifically for use with the bike or treadmill is approximately $40 per month.

Many larger facilities have adapted to online programming. The benefit of online training is that you literally have thousands of options at your finger tips. This can also be a downside. You have so many options, which one do you choose? For those who are seeking variety in their at-home programs, online is a definite must. I’d definitely suggest doing your research before investing time and energy.

Personal Training:

I’ve done some inquiries amongst our members. While we obviously work on a much smaller scale, I feel like the feedback is applicable. As a personal trainer, we work with people and give them what they need. After twenty years in the business I’ve come to learn exactly why we are necessary. One-on-one personal training is appealing because a client’s risk is much lower as opposed to a group class. This is ideal for clients who are leery about returning to the gym. We do at home programs or work with clients in the gym. It depends on the individual, so either option will work.

Here’s why I think personal training will thrive:

  1. Routine: People need a set time and date to be somewhere. Clients need a deadline to be at your gym at a specific time,
  2. Accountability: People need someone to be accountable to. If your client knows you’re waiting for them, they will show up.
  3. Consistency: People need to stick to a routine for long term success.
  4. Encouragement: People need human interaction and encouragement. The energy you bring to a session is contagious. Clients will stick with it longer if they can reach their goals.

We must be realistic. We can’t expect people to come back to the gym in droves. Patience is definitely what we need to understand here. I think in general people want the opportunity to get out of their house. Clients also need assurance their health and safety are your top concern.

Group Training:

Facilities have adapted well to encourage safe group classes. It’s really a matter of using space wisely while respecting physical distancing protocols. As well, cleaning protocols are stringent. Physical distancing is 9 feet apart. We are a small facility and find it easy to encourage this. Group classes are always done with us being nine feet apart. We clean everything we use before moving on. It’s been really easy to adapt to this. Masks are always required of course!

Larger facilities simply move their group classes to a larger space which allows for a safe distance apart. Designating an area with colored tape is an example of how you can assure clients of a safe physical distance. You have the benefit of being in a group class and also observing safety protocols. It can be done!

Hybrid Exercise:

This term was cited in the article on the website https://impactmagazine.ca/. Some experts believe that people will find a happy balance between coming back to the gym and exercising at home. “Clients would only visit the gym periodically and complete the rest of their training with online resources.” This is referred to as “hybrid” system. It’s really getting the best of both worlds.

So, will the exercise industry experience a boom? This pandemic has shed light on health and wellness. I think people will now be more willing to invest in their health. We can call this a silver lining of sorts. If more people are becoming active then I believe it is definitely a good trend. People want options in order to stay active. Social connection is imperative for long term success. I think after being in a period of isolation people will want to come back to the gym. Social connection is beneficial for mental health which is a huge issue at the moment. I believe providing safe group classes and personal training is definitely the way to go. I can honestly say whatever gets people moving is a trend I wholeheartedly support.

Let’s hope this trend continues!