The world has been in the grips of COVID-19 for weeks now and almost all aspects of life have been affected in one way or another. Fitness habits in particular could not be continued like before with self isolation and closed gyms being the new normal.
We set out to investigate how people are adapting to these novel circumstances and have recently conducted an unrepresentative yet insightful survey with more than 100 participants here in Switzerland. Please note that this is a qualitative survey which would not meet requirements for statistical accuracy and that results may not display the population as a whole. Scroll to the bottom to see our findings condensed into recommendations for fitness providers!
Here is what we found out, which offered more unexpected insights than we thought it would:
Not everybody is turning into a potato
Before starting our investigation, we weren’t quite sure about all the details but we thought it was pretty obvious that the global lockdown was probably not good for fitness in general. So we expected to see that reflected in the answers to our survey. This is where the first surprise came in:
Although overall subjective fitness did indeed decrease slightly, this was by no means the case for all participants. In fact, we could see a pretty clear distinction between three groups of people:
- Those who expectedly fell short in their fitness since the start of the pandemic. These people had a fitness routine before which they were no longer able to stick to. Be that because of closed gyms or the loss of a previous routine. This is what we thought to be the norm, but it was more around 25% of the participants.
- Those who basically continued as usual and did not see a big change in their fitness habits. This group was the largest at about 50% of participants. Subjective overall fitness still decreased slightly for this group but only marginally.
- Those who suddenly started being a lot more active. This group used the pandemic to start new fitness habits and saw a notable increase in overall subjective fitness. Although we were aware before that these people existed, we did not expect to see this group be as big as it was: Again about 25% of participants
So what does all this tell us: The majority of people were actually able to handle their health pretty well during this time with only about a quarter experiencing a real decrease in fitness. Not everybody is turning into a potato! Even more impressively, a quarter of all participants have increased their fitness notably and will come out of the lockdown healthier – or at least more active – than before!
Fitness has on average decreased, but not as much as we thought and not the same for everyone
Gyms to the rescue
We segmented the participants of our survey into those who considered themselves fitness-clients – regular gym goers – and non-fitness-clients – those who don’t go to gyms but might still engage in sports.
What we found was that fitness-clients seemed to be notably more affected by the lockdown. This is no big surprise, as their habits from before the pandemic obviously could not be continued as before.
Still it is reassuring to see that gyms have not become obsolete because of Corona. Not everybody can simply switch to home exercises or running. And even if they can, they are still missing the personal and professional support that is being provided in gyms.
And yet, self-exercise has certainly become more popular, which is a development gyms have to cope with. This might be by also offering programs to follow along at home or simply by emphasising how going to a gym is even more beneficial to someone’s physical health.
Either way, gyms are here to stay.
Gym goers were less likely to keep their fitness at the same level during the lockdown
Cardio up, strength down
Another clear trend could be seen when looking at how exactly people’s fitness changed. This is of course again the result of changing fitness during this lockdown: People were more likely to engage in typical self-guided exercise such as running and some bodyweight exercises – but that’s it.
Consequently, participants on average did not see much loss in their cardiovascular abilities. Their strength, on the other hand, was where the biggest shortcomings were noticed. People simply do not have access to the proper equipment they are used to training their strength with.
Motivation has also decreased by a bit, which again is in line with what would be expected during a time of self isolation. Interestingly, healthy nutrition does not seem to have suffered.
Whereas cardio (on the left) has not seen much loss on average, strength (middle) is where more are struggling
Alright, So what can fitness providers make of this information? These are the conclusion we think you might take away from this survey:
- Not everybody has turned into a potato! Some of your clients might actually have improved their fitness during the lockdown. When they start training with you again, find out which group they are part of and challenge them accordingly. Some of them might even have picked up a new healthy habit that you can build on together.
- Show your clients why your gym is important for their fitness and why working out on their own is not enough. Analysing their body and giving them personal recommendations might be part of that – with Bodygee for example!
- Expect to be more focused on strength than cardio with most clients. That is where most people have been slacking during Corona.
- Adapt to the new situation. Even though this virus is coming to an end, there are certain things that probably just will not return to how they were before. Set yourself apart from the competition!