Numerous times it has been said that fitness is a part of one’s lifestyle. With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the world, the lifestyle was subject to a huge change, also changing the meaning of fitness with it. The change was experienced by both the people who practise fitness and by the trainers. Almost all the coaches that I have spoken to said that the way they work now is much different from how they worked earlier. The people who participated in the challenge too said that the lockdown had either improved their workout routines or thrown them into a slump. Some participants were those who started working out during the pandemic.
As people started focusing more on their health, during the pandemic, we see many changes in the fitness world that might be pointing towards a “new normal.”
In this article, we talk about four ways in which the fitness industry has changed because of the pandemic-
1. Increasing the reach across borders.
One of the most valuable characteristics of the virtual world is that it transcends all borders of space. Much like the fields of education, business, entertainment, etc., this has been working in favor of the fitness world as well. An article by the Times of India suggests that the pandemic has “opened new and lucrative opportunities for fitness trainers in India,” and has allowed them to train clients all across the world sitting at their homes. For example, Gineel, a coach at SocialBoat, expanded his network of clients much further, from Dubai to Spain, during the pandemic. Similarly, Aarja, whose fitness programs focus on women’s bodies and health, has also developed a network of clients across the globe. Coach Urmi too shifted her venture ‘Kinetic Living’ completely to the virtual model.
2. The advent of home fitness.
Until about a few years ago, it would have been absurd to consider working out at home, when the gym was accessible. The pandemic, however, changed that. When the gyms were closed for a long period of time, people started working out at home and with time, got comfortable doing that. According to the BBC, home fitness had always been a part of people's lives, but during the pandemic, it took on a new and more structured form. It has become standard. In the specific case of India, a study by Hindustan Times shows that working out at home has helped people destress from the pandemic stress and adopt healthier lifestyles.
From the SocialBoat community too, there are several examples. Eshan Jain and Gururaj Jadhav, both top performers in the challenges, started their respective fitness journeys during the pandemic.
3. Growing traffic in digital fitness spaces.
Allied Market Research predicts that the virtual fitness market will reach $59,231 million by 2027, and the pandemic has a huge part to play in that. Working out at home, people have turned to the e-resources on fitness available at their disposal, for all kinds of information and questions. We have seen how fitness channels on YouTube, fitness influencers on Instagram, and educational blogs about a healthy lifestyle have grown enormously in the past couple of years. Even fitness technology like fitness bands, home workout equipment, etc. has seen a huge growth in their market. In India itself, fitness platforms and apps have seen a rise in consumer spending by 60 percent. Coaches from SocialBoat have shared their stories where they have received many questions from their followers on Instagram. Priyanka Chopra, a participant in the challenge, recalled how she started working out when she came across Rohit (coach on SocialBoat) on Instagram who cleared all her fitness-related doubts. Such an interaction through the virtual space has given rise to many virtual fitness communities where people motivate and support each other in achieving their fitness goals.
4. Innovation in the kinds of workouts.
Necessity is the mother of all inventions and although calisthenics might not be a recent invention, it has definitely reached many more people recently. If you're updated with the fitness world, you might have heard of or even practiced this form of exercise. Calisthenics is a form of workout that relies on a person's body weight involving different movements that develop strength, endurance, flexibility, and coordination. Since it needs almost no equipment, it can be done easily from the comfort of the home. This is the reason why it has gained immense popularity during the pandemic. And this is just one example. Other forms of such exercise like yoga and pilates are also being practiced more than earlier. Traditional forms of exercise like walking and running have also attracted more people in the pandemic. According to a study by Running Magazine, more than a quarter of the running community (28%) picked up the sport during the pandemic.
After such a drastic change in the way people practice fitness, the question remains, will people be returning to their earlier practices? Or have they embraced this change with open arms? A study by Bloomberg suggests that it is the latter. People have incorporated virtual fitness into their lives and are likely to continue with it.
For more fitness-related stories, visit SocialBoat.