What I want to discuss in this blog is evolution, change within the health and fitness industry, fitness trends and choices, the new big 3 and how they impact our training or vice versa.
No matter the current trend, we have choices and this is how it should be. We can choose what gym we go to, or we can train at home. We can workout in the local park or just run on the road. We can train for strength, muscle gain, weight loss, fitness and more.
But sometimes those choices can be limited by circumstances outwith our control.
This is an update of an older post I made back in 2016. The current Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the fitness industry has called for some additions to the original post.
I’ll try to keep the following information as UK based as possible, although in terms of reliability some of the data is based on global trends. However, all of this is driven either directly or indirectly by the global Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 at the time of writing.
Covid-19 & Online Training
We’ve been in and out of lockdown several times now and infections are on the increase as I write this at the end of December 2020. We are currently in another lockdown that will possibly be lengthened if the government follows through on their speculations and recommendations.
Many people, my clients included, haven’t returned to a gym since they shut during the first lockdown back in March 2020, which is having a catastrophic impact on gyms throughout the country. Some are providing virtual classes and apps for home workouts, many smaller boutique gyms have taken their workouts outside into local parks and open areas to provide classes, boot camps and 1 to 1 training, all socially distanced and masked up, if they are sensible.
Working from home has been another factor in the increase in people training at home. With no commute to consider many are using this time for training, some are even taking phone calls and conferences while out walking.
Let’s take a quick look at the three main and sometimes interchangeable terms being used for online training just now.
- Online: where people follow workouts and programmes provided online via video, blog posts and websites.
- Digital: digital fitness products such as apps, wearable tech and interactives such as heart rate training.
- Virtual: virtual reality workouts
Prior to 2020 all three areas have seen growth but it’s online fitness that has seen the greatest increase since then according to wellnesscreatives.com
Recent surveys have shown that at least 25% of adults are now exercising at home or at least away from the gym, with lockdown preventing many from socialising in their usual ways coffee mornings became walking mornings. Another positive side effect of training at home is that many people are now active with their family participating in online and virtual exercise or enjoying family walks and cycling outside. This is great for mental wellbeing as well as physical health during extended periods of lockdown and social isolation.
Recent global events and technological advances have seen virtual workouts and online training push into the ACSM’s top 10 trends for 2021 where neither made the top 20 trends previously, according to wellnesscreatives.com
A recent Nielsen survey found that this increase in virtual and online training has led to 81% of Millenials exercising or likely to exercise, compared to 61% of Boomers. For this reason equipment manufacturers, wearable developers and boutique studios are keen to maximise Millenial engagement.
Figures from prnewswire.co.uk show that prior to the pandemic, the online fitness industry was worth about $6bn. It is expected to grow at 33.1% CAGR and could be worth $59bn by 2027. This is an incredible growth and many companies will want a slice of this pie.
This predicted growth has, in part, been put down to the significant increase in the use of online fitness apps whilst gyms and fitness clubs have been closed. This trend is more than likely to continue post pandemic as these apps offer many personalised advantages such as goal setting and no time constraints to training.
This increase in virtual and online training goes to show that it is less of a challenge to workout at home than many have probably anticipated. With a little research, you will be able to find a home workout solution that suits you in maintaining your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
The Olden Days
However, there have also been various trends within the fitness industry over the years gone by. Back in the ’60s and ’70s if you were a man and lifted weights it was probably for aesthetics and bodybuilding purposes only, whilst women either didn’t train or just did aerobic, yoga and callisthenics.
From the ’70s onwards we saw studio-based classes really take off where the emphasis on the classes was to feel the “burn” and shed fat. Think Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda and Mr Motivator! Stationary bikes and some exceptionally questionable home workout equipment also saw an increase in use.
Through the 70’s and in to the 90’s we saw 1 set max effort training programmes built around weight machines such as Nautilus and Hammer with bodybuilders such as Dorian Yates championing this training method. Many “normal” people wanted to look like Dorian and as such 1 set training became popular.
Other training trends appeared such as ab sculpting workouts, as well as high repetition weight training to sculpt, shape and again “burn” the fat. Classes became more varied, with offerings starting to include spin, combat and step type classes, as well as classes using more resistance equipment.
Now we have state of the art gyms, we have CrossFit boxes and dedicated spin studios. People are following comprehensive training programmes, using apps and online PT’s to achieve their training goals. These goals also seem to be coalescing into three main areas: to look good; to be fit and strong, or to feel good and maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.
My question is this: do training trends drive our training goals or do our training goals lead to the trends we see in this industry? Personally, I think it’s a bit of both!
Now I know that most of you are going to come back with “but trends always lead the way” or “innovators start trends not us”, however, consider this; a trend has to start somewhere and be followed by enough people to gain momentum and become wider spread.
Before the internet and social media really took off it was tv marketing, newspapers and magazines that sold us products and put names to fitness workouts such as Jane Fonda. Women wanted to look like her and so followed her workouts in gym classes or at home on video (if you remember that!). This so-called “trend” led the way and the public followed.
Jump forward a few decades and now someone, anyone, can post a workout on Facebook or Instagram, see it go viral and have a huge number of people doing that workout within days!
Gyms are more often than not set up to offer choice and variety, to enable people to train in almost any way they want.
My take-home point on this is that we have choices, we, you must decide what your training goals are; what you want from your training sessions, how you want to look, to improve your athletic ability, to lose weight or to gain muscle.
If you need some input on your training goals or how you are going to achieve them then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t let these current restrictions limit your training or impact your health.
Alternatively, if you are looking for workouts you can do at home, training programmes and nutritional support in your quest for a healthier, fitter you then subscribe to The HIIT Works by Get Coached here where you can access all the above and more for a very competitive price.
As always, thanks for reading this far, stay safe and healthy, Tim