Has COVID-19 Boosted an interest in Fitness?

8
min read
November 12, 2020
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With gyms closed and lockdowns in place, we’ve all had to start innovating.

Unfortunately I was one of many who were stuck scavenging for toilet roll during the initial lockdown.

However, I was very lucky to have a roommate that is a personal trainer with an awesome gym set up in our garage. For many, COVID-19 meant coming up with new ways to train. One of the few positive results of COVID, is there has actually been an increase in fitness worldwide. COVID has brought new emphasis to maintaining fitness and health in order to beat the virus.

Global Web Indexes found that 85% of internet users have been choosing to keep fit during COVID, and seven in ten have been working out from home (Brard, 2020). When lockdown was introduced sales of exercise equipment shot up by 55% and downloads of health and fitness apps grew by 46% worldwide.

Some apps which have seen a massive surge include Strava, Mindbody, Peloton and Nike running club. Fitness instructors have been quick to move to online platforms and many classes have moved to Zoom. In addition to toilet paper, dumbbells, barbells - exercise machines were in high demand and almost impossible to get a hold of. Many people have set up home gyms and explored new workouts and activities to cope with lockdown boredom.

Empty toilet paper aisle

What types of fitness trends have emerged?

It's clear fitness is on the rise, but what are some of the specific trends we’ve seen emerge during 2020?

Due to the switch from gym to home workouts, there has been a rise in fitness apps, smart home equipment and digital fitness streaming platforms. Fitness businesses needed to leverage technology to develop and create new digital offerings of their services.

HIIT training has become vastly popular for its health and time-saving benefits during lockdown. It’s great for those who require a time efficient workout at home. HIIT involves high bursts of energy followed by short periods of rest and can be completed within 30 minutes. It’s designed to increase heart rate and burn calories quickly. It’s super easy to do at home with body weight exercises or sprint intervals on a running / bike machine.


Group virtual fitness has increased. Many people need a class environment and an instructor to motivate them in their workouts. They find value in not having to plan their workouts, and prefer being told what to do to achieve results. With the pandemic, group fitness became virtual group fitness. Many gyms and studios had to adapt their services to keep their businesses alive. Many live stream their classes via Zoom so that their members can still exercise in a group environment.

There has been a rise in digital one-to-one coaching. Trainers giving users personalised training programs to hit their goals in nutrition and exercise. Trainerize has been particularly successful in helping personal trainers move their training online.

Strength training with barbells, plates, kettlebells, and dumbbells was another popular choice, and became even more relevant as COVID progressed. Many set up their equipment in their home, garden or garage. Strength training at home became so popular that the equipment was sold out almost globally. It was almost impossible to find and buy online. A few creative people saw the demand and decided it was an opportunity to create and sell concrete dumbbells and plates for barbells. Knowing the demand they didn’t come at a cheap price either.

Another training style that has become more popular is body weight training. It’s an easy style of training for people to implement at home since it requires no equipment. Whether its lunges, push ups, squats, burpees, there’s a lot to work with to create an exciting workout routine.

There has also been an increase in outdoor training and activities. Such as running, biking, hiking etc. 327% more runs were recorded in the freeletics app compared to 2019. This also includes socially distanced outdoor bootcamps which have increased due to the closing of gyms.

The pandemic has not only affected us physically, but also mentally. Lockdown has affected the way we think and feel and for many the lack of social interaction has had a negative effect on mental health and overall wellbeing. In order to combat this, mental wellness has been incorporated more into fitness regimes. People have resorted to Mindset Coaches and Yoga to deal with the rise in stress and anxiety levels. One of the major trends that have increased is yoga. There has been a global yoga craze during lockdown. YouTube’s Adrienne has reported major surge in numbers. Yoga helps to relieve the stress and anxiety related to lockdown but also with stiffness and pain obtained from the increased amount of time sat behind a computer or tv.

Is home fitness here to stay?

It’s safe to say coronavirus has led to a new workout boom. The fitness industry has had to adapt to the current situation. New online classes tap into something that didn’t exist in home

fitness before. The big questions are will home workouts remain the new trend after COVID or will everyone run straight back to the gyms? In addition will the recent influx in fitness remain or will it decline after COVID has ended?

I personally believe that there will be more of a combination of both gym and home/outside workouts going forward. Although virtual fitness offers convenience, privacy and flexibility which some people may prefer. I believe the lure of the gym will prove stronger in the long term and gym memberships won’t be cancelled altogether. This is due to the drive of freedom of choice. People don’t like that COVID has taken away their choice to go to the gym.

The restrictions of not being allowed to go to the gym, out for dinner or to the beach makes us miss these activities and only want to do them more. It makes us appreciate the things we have taken for granted and cant wait to have back after corona virus ends. It is also much more likely that people will revert back to gyms and sports for the social, human contact which is essential to exercise for so many. Whatever the outcome, it’s clear that the shift to digital fitness will have lasting effects on the fitness industry.

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Author: 

Steph Grieve
Talent Scout (PRMG)
Sydney, Australia

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Stephanie Grieve
Talent Scout
Unfortunately I was one of many who were stuck scavenging for toilet roll during the initial lockdown.
Share this article
Stephanie Grieve
Talent Scout
Unfortunately I was one of many who were stuck scavenging for toilet roll during the initial lockdown.
Share this article

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