Fitness studios and public gyms seem like they have been around forever nowadays even though they have only been in the mainstream since the 1980s. They’re a unique environment that you can usually find in your local community centre or somewhere nearby that accompany the thousands of residential suburbs across the nation. More small-scale small-business fitness studios have only been considered “popular” since the 1990s as the public began to start worrying about the side effects of the increasingly sedentary lifestyle along with high fatty diet that had begun to lead to a massive increase in obesity across nations in the West and eventually, the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, in recent times, the coronavirus has put a halt to the increasingly popular, jam-packed and social events that have become our modern-day fitness studios. As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on both families, governments and bank accounts, people are left to wonder when it will all end and whether the world will ever be the same again. This has extended to Canadian fitness studios as they struggle to find ways to compensate for their mandated closure after the initiating of social distancing measures at the end of March to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Rising Fame of Fitness Apps
20 years ago people would have thought that you were crazy if you had told them they would be spending all of their time on their phones. Fast forward and that crazy science fiction world has now become our reality. With consumer’s never-ending gaze locked on their mobile devices, companies have found ways to innovate. At this time, we have in our pockets devices that can let us install everything that we theoretically need to get the environment of a fitness studio right in our homes. This includes trainers showing us the proper technique for exercises, which exercises are the most effective for which parts of the body as well as much needed encouragement.
On the Apple and/or Google Play stores, fitness apps come in all different shapes and sizes with many having video or audio recordings of trainers, forums to interact with others like you as if you were in a gym and available for every niche. Are you a beginner runner and you want to get into the habit? There’s an app for that. Are you looking to start going to the gym to lose weight? There’s an app for that. How about gaining muscle? That too. Yoga? You bet there is. With millions of downloads, it’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped people from keeping active. After all, life finds a way.
Can Fitness Studios Rebound?
The short answer is yes, the long answer is a bit more complicated. Fitness studios have always been places of social interaction, getting into the spirit of working out, drawing inspiration from others, and making new friends. Although these options can be and already are offered online through apps, that doesn’t mean that everyone wants it that way. Sure, you can do the same things you would normally do in a fitness studio if you go for runs, bought your own gym equipment, and listened to videos of instructors telling you the proper technique and/or strategies for improvement but it still can never be the same.
Humans need face-to-face human interaction. That is why so many complain of feeling lonely in our modern world when we are in fact more connected than ever before. Although theoretically everything is right in front of you, that human connection is what really pushes us forwards. It’s what makes us feel like part of a group, a collective and when doing something that many of us don’t like to do, we need that sense of community, of “social fitnessing”.
Therefore, there’s always going to be a market for those who prefer to go to a physical fitness studio and practice there with their friends right by their side. It’s for the same reason that so many of us still love to go to the movie theatre to watch the newest releases or buy tickets for the next sports game even though we could watch it live on your TV’s from our couch or watch the new hit on Netflix, Hulu or Disney Plus in a couple months. It may shrink due to some being okay with this new digitized format, but the bulk of people can’t wait to be back.
How Gyms Need to Adapt
As with any sort of new competition, people need to adapt to face it. Gyms after coronavirus are going to become a reality very soon as Stage 3 of the province’s reopening goes into effect. Gyms across the province will be allowed to reopen with limited capacities. You may ask: “what will the gym look like after it's reopened?”. For one, limiting the number of amenities such as steam rooms, saunas, and showers. Another obvious adaptation will be the limited number of people who can come in or join classes which will be accompanied with extensive cleaning being performed on all pieces of equipment every day to keep the public safe.
For the equipment itself as well as face-to-face interactions with friends, physical gyms don’t have any options to adapt. They are the only option barring buying all the equipment, getting together with friends, and doing it all yourself. What gyms do have the power to do is to move their group lessons and sessions online such as with yoga or fitness trainers where much of the expensive cardio equipment isn’t used. For those, paid online subscriptions to join meetings are easy to incorporate into the gym model for anyone who wants to stay home. However, aside from that, if gyms try to enter the online market, they’ll lose what makes them gyms in the first place.
Ultimately, people have needed and will continue to need physical exercise just as much as they’ll also need the right encouragement, mindset, and friends. It’s a sort of yin and yang and when they both get along, such as in gyms, it works. While online fitness apps are a temporary solution for these times, they lack a key component of what pushes people to exercise and succeed. So strap in folks, install your fitness apps while you need them but once all this is over, your local gym will be your next destination.