Gymming post-pandemic: Will the traditional model of fitness centres get back to normal by 2021?
November 12, 2020 3:18 PM
After gyms and fitness centres were forced to shut down earlier this year, fitness enthusiasts found alternatives to continue their fitness regime.
The brick-and-mortar gyms were among the hardest hit at the onset of the pandemic. (Photo source: IE)
By Prateek Sood
If we have to name a few industries that are badly affected by the pandemic and resultant lockdown, fitness centres are one of them. Now that gyms have resumed operations; industry experts and gyms owners are curious as well as hopeful of business getting back on track.
After gyms and fitness centres were forced to shut down earlier this year, fitness enthusiasts found alternatives to continue their fitness regime. This includes at-home gyms, yoga and online fitness classes. Even as gyms slowly begin to welcome back guests, at-home gyms are expected to remain a mainstay in personal fitness. This raises the concern about the future of gyms and those who run the business.
The Pandemic Impact and Struggle
The brick-and-mortar gyms were among the hardest hit at the onset of the pandemic. Though we cannot predict pandemic’ long term impacts on the industry, short term impacts have been catastrophic to many – massive crisis of unemployment of professional trainers, gyms and studio owners, and supporting staff. Many fitness centres, especially the boutique gyms found it difficult to pay bank electricity bills, rents, loans, and salaries of employees as a result of which many shutdown their operations.
The Way Forward
The growing influence of the digital world has called disruption in fitness industry as well. Virtual Gyms are making fitness resources available to the user in the comfort of their location. However, like any other challenge that comes with the internet, online fitness classes can lead to adverse health outcomes if the exercise is not done right as there is no expert to supervise. It is surely not a good option for beginners. While at the gym, one is recommended exercises according to their body, however, virtual classes don’t provide personalized training and the ones that do are very expensive.
As uncertainty prevails, there is an ever increasing need for the industry to develop itself with the changing times as many have already started doing so by going digital and creative. The digital transformation seems to be the best survival technique and stay relevant not only today but even in the future as technology continues to disrupt all the industries. As more people have opened up to the idea of working out from home, traditional gyms do face a challenge but they can deal with the situation by going digital and investing in the virtual model along with traditional gyms. This will create a comprehensive business model and give people a choice to choose what they find safe and comfortable.
However, the situation is alarming for the smaller players who have less budget to go virtual or invest in creating a digital platform. They might go for collaboration, funding or use traditional means of advertising to assure gym users’ safety and hygiene. One thing is certain, fitness centres that follow all safety and hygiene measures may have an easier time enticing customers to return to their pre-COVID training style.
Undoubtedly, virtual classes and at home gyms have given a big boost to the gym equipment industry. Now, it will be interesting to see whether people would want to keep the best of both worlds or is at-home gym experience just a rebound! Until then it is only wise to use technology to survive this change. As the challenge is new, so should be the solutions.
The fitness industry is the most significant part of a healthy community and it will definitely shine again. Though we cannot predict how long it will take for normalcy to resume, it surely will, sooner or later.
(The author is Director, Grand Slam Fitness. Views expressed are personal.)