Gyms. Weights. Treadmills. For many people going to a gym seems like a far fetched memory right now. There is no doubt that the fitness market has suffered because of the pandemic. Gyms in the Netherlands are opening again on the 1st of July but how is it going to look like? Will it be the same?
The power of habit can be strong. Not being able to train in the gym for such a long time has forced many people to innovate. And there is some great initiative being taken by many personal trainers and gym chains to make fitness accessible to their clients during the pandemic. It’s great to see this.
How fast will people adapt to this “new way” of fitness?
It Takes 66 Days To Form A New Habit
A study was carried out at the London University College by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher.
The study tried to figure out how long it would take to form a habit. Philippa and her team examined 96 people over a 12-week period. Everyday they examined wehter the new behaviour felt automatic yet or not.
At the end of the 12 weeks, the results were out. On average is took exactly 66 days to form a new habit. The results varied from 18 days to 254 days depending on the person, type of new behavior being practiced and personal circumstances.
According to these results it is safe to say that a a certain number of people will have changed their habits during the 4 months or 120 days of lock down, maybe even longer in certain parts of the word. How many people will renew their gym memberships?
I am very curious to see the statistics next year.
A Completely New Environment
But, it’s not only the habit that is playing a role here. The gym culture will change. Extra safety regulations are being implemented, such as 1.5m distance. Group training as we know it will not be the same. What about spotting someone during benchpress. You gotta have some serious core strength to make it from 1.5m distance.
I don’t know if I would feel comfortable working out like this. And what about Sauna after the gym?
Another factor to take into consideration is fear. Even if gyms are open again, some people simply wouldn’t come back because of fear. which is okay. But what I am concerned about are the elderly. They are at high risk and are probably the first to cancel their memberships. They will not be able to benefit from the digitization of fitness. It is highly important for elderly to stay fit. Yet again, just like in the pandemic, they are affected the most.
There has been a lot of fear spread lately and it will have an effect on peoples decision wehter to go back to the gym.
And finally, the obvious result of the pandemic. Economic crisis. Millions of people have been laid off. A gym membership is money much needed by many people right now. Gyms better get innovative here.
The New World of Remote Fitness
The Indian app Fittetnity has seen a 20% surge in user activity but still expects a 40% decrease in annual revenue. Fitternity and other platforms are using live classes, online classes and even 1 on 1 coaching.
Joe Wicks, “The Body Coach” has seen huge success with his workouts. It took him 8 years to get to 800,000 subscribers. He now has 2.2 million, more then doubling his subscriber in just a few months during the crisis.
Valued at $536 million in December 2019, Classpass had to lay off more than 50% of their employees in April 2020.
The Crisis Makes Fitness More Accessible For You
There is no doubt that many veteran gyms goers are having their world broken into pieces right now. On the other hand, others are forming new habits.
People who have had time at home because of the pandemic have been exposed to the possibility of digital fitness. The crisis has made people realise how accessible fitness can be from your phone or laptop. This is great news.
This realisation combined with the increased efforts of fitness chains having to go digital, will expose more people to the opportunity to stay fit. The target audience that would not go to the gym because they do not feel comfortable or can’t afford it or do not live in the perimeter of a gym, are able to do fitness online.
Will The “Old Way” Triumph Over “The New Way”?
At our core we are social creatures, we need to be in touch with other people and we want to be in touch with other people. A sense of community is what inspires many to go to the gym, to high five each other, give a highly enthusiastic and ADHD-looking chest bumps after completing a tough workout. This is human nature.
And while the “new way” of fitness, digital fitness, is a great way for people to easily access classes online for probably less money, they “old way” will triumph in the long run.
Here is what is probably going to happen…
First, new things are exciting. Digital fitness is new, it’s different, it’s exciting. But for just how long will this excitement last for? How long until we crave the “old way” when the excitement is gone.
When you buy a new phone, you can’t get your fingers off it, you want to buy the best cover, the best screen protector. But after a few months, you throw it on your bed, use it to open beers (me) and feed your dog with it.
I think we will get bored of digital fitness just like we get bored of our phones. I think it’s more of a transitional movement to keep gyms alive and use the crisis as an opportunity. I think in a few years, we will see a hybrid form of digital and non-digital fitness.
Just like how social media makes you anti-social and has a negative impact on you in the long term, hanging in front of a screen for fitness is not that different, it lacks real human connection.
Even though the power of habit and other circumstances will probably result in a digital fitness trend in the short term, I think our human instincts will triumph in the end.
A result of this will be hidden underground gyms and sauna sessions that will be raided by police like an illegal gambling session 😉
I have a question for you: Where do you see fitness in a few years from now?
Leave a comment below, I am curious to hear your opinion.