Impact of COVID-19 on the Fitness Industry
The Fitness Industry particularly brick-and-mortar gyms were among the hardest hit at the onset of Covid-19. Gyms and fitness studios were the first businesses to undergo forced shutdowns in the United States from the threat of Coronavirus spread as these are high-touch businesses. Although the long-term impacts are not known, short term impacts surely have been catastrophic to many. There has been a massive crisis of unemployment of gyms and studio owners, professional trainers and supporting staff. Owners found it difficult to pay bank loans, rents, electricity bills and salaries of employees. Many boutique gyms actually run on small margins and so the Pandemic posed a huge challenge on its very existence. The brick-and-mortar gyms that contribute the highest share to the US fitness industry, estimated to be worth close to nearly $100 billion, have their own health failing today at least in some segments.
As uncertainty of the virus prevails, there will be a continuous need for the fitness industry to shape itself with the changing times and many big names have already started doing so, that is by going creative and digital..!! The digital transformation seems to be the best exercise to stay relevant and at the least afloat. As ‘work from home’ has become the new normal for any other establishment, virtual access or ‘workout from home’ made gyms and studios not lose their consistency. It is undoubtedly much more alarming for the smaller players with less or no budget to go virtual or invest in digital advertising or creating a digital platform. However, hundreds of big and small fitness businesses joined in with Omnify’s ‘Zoom Integration’ to enable booking of live classes thereby supporting gyms and studios through live streaming of their services.
Virtual classes have become the order of the day keeping the pulse of the fitness industry going. The upward trend for accessing digital content versus the attendance in physical gyms was kind of inevitable given the Covid-19 backdrop. But the question that yet looms large is- For how long? Is this change altogether decisive of the fate of gyms and studios? Also, which kinds of fitness classes look more promising online? Most of the virtual bookings have been of yoga which barely needs any equipment than a mat. So yoga has become even more popular and expected to be a promising deal. Gym training in virtual reality has also upped the scale but workouts with heavy equipment are certainly missed.
But hey! There is a silver lining too. With the White House’s three-phase reopening plan, gyms and studios are among the first places to reopen finally. With safety guidelines in place gyms are beginning to reopen. At-home solutions have given a big boost to the fitness industry, undoubtedly. But, it is yet to see whether people would want to keep the best of both worlds or is virtual experience just a rebound!
Until then it is only wise to go with the flow. Use technology to survive this big mess. Play safe and tread smart. Kabandi Saikia, co-founder at Omnify gives a clarion call to the fitness industry, “Consider this only as a setback, a challenge unlike before. New challenges need newer solutions so be open to innovation. Fitness industry is the backbone of a healthy community, It is destined to fight back!”