As a woman, at some point in your life, you would have realised that a gender gap exists in the approach to fitness. While it is the norm for men, it is an exception for women. The gender gap in fitness is real; However, it finally looks like things are changing for the better. The new boom in online fitness has given a boost to women empowerment. The access to content and peer motivation is narrowing down that gap.
Studies conducted in this field have revealed that the boom in virtual fitness during the COVID-19 pandemic has given space and opportunity to women to work towards their fitness goals.
According to a study report by Healthline, between April and September 2021, women in the age group of 18-29 tracked 45.2% more fitness activity than they did during the same period last year, compared with a 27.3% increase among their male counterparts.
Clearly, accessibility to virtual fitness increased the rate of women’s participation in workouts.
The effect was such that women now look forward to making virtual fitness a permanent part of their lives, more than men do. A study reported by the Economic Times says that 68% of women in India believed that virtual gyms were the future, as opposed to 59% of men believing that.
It is important to remember that online fitness has appealed to and benefitted men too but the increase in women’s participation is larger because a lot of men were already participating earlier as well. There are several reasons for this-
1. Traditionally, women were expected to commit more time to the household.
Although changing in big cities, finding the time to go to a gym is still a luxury for women. For most women, taking care of the household demands a full-time commitment. This becomes even more hectic in the case of working women who are expected to give time to both work and home. In such a situation, dedicating a scheduled couple of hours to the gym every day is almost impossible. Moreover, the time taken by commuting when travelling to a gym can add to the problem. Therefore, online fitness, where one can work out from the home itself, and at any time, has appealed largely to women, especially mothers.
For example, Deepika Rao from the community said that after pregnancy she was able to get back to her fit self by working out at home as and when she got the time.
2. Numerous gyms are male-oriented environments.
The unfortunate reality, even in the 21st century, is that most gyms in India do not offer the environment and equipment per the comfort of women. Gyms, especially in non-metro cities, continue to be male-centric and male-oriented. A lot of online fitness programs, on the other hand, are designed for women. They range from strength training to yoga and pilates.
Coach Aarja, for example, spoke to SocialBoat about the lack of a comfortable ambiance for women at gyms. This was one of the many reasons why she shifted to online fitness and working out from home.
Shalini Soni, another participant in the game says that had she depended on going to a gym for fitness, she would have given up on her dreams. Instead, she started working out from home, got her certification through an online course, and is now taking classes online.
3. Online fitness communities help women see each other and draw motivation.
Scientifically, it has been proven that doing a task as a part of the community leads to long-term benefits and efficiency. Women, who often feel isolated and alone in usually male-dominated gyms, have started finding each other through online fitness platforms. Seeing one another perform to the best of their capabilities they get inspired to continue doing better. In many countries, and even across the world, the pandemic saw the eruption of several online fitness communities; some of them are especially for women.
Many studies have also recorded how women working out together and working on themselves is a way of empowerment. The mental and physical health improves markedly and the lifestyle, in general, gets bettered.
For example, the women that became a part of the SocialBoat game over time, have now started a women’s only game, pushing each other in achieving their fitness goals.
Other than these, access to online fitness is inexpensive as compared to the cost of a gym membership. Furthermore, taking care of mental and physical beings through fitness from home has given women a chance to indulge in self-care without making the extra effort of travelling to a gym. Surely, virtual fitness is set to eliminate the gap between fitness for men and women.
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