The Pandemic Has Forever Changed the Fitness Industry. Here's What to Know. Covid-19 transformed a number of things, but the fitness industry saw one of the biggest shifts.

By Richard Maize

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Home workouts are not exactly a new fad. Jane Fonda made workout videos wildly popular decades ago, and countless brands have followed suit over the years by releasing streaming services aimed at helping busy people quickly get their routines in for the day right in their own homes or offices. But for many, having a gym or studio to go to keeps them in check.

The global health-club industry raked in nearly $98 billion in 2019, showing little to no signs of slowing down. That is, of course, until the Covid-19 pandemic forced millions and millions of businesses to close their doors in early 2020. With over one in five Americans belonging to at least one health club or studio in the U.S., you can only imagine the devastation felt by the fitness industry when studios could no longer host in-person workouts.

With nowhere to go, fitness enthusiasts and hopefuls alike found new ways to get their fix. The almost $100 billion fitness industry quickly shifted into a virtual world, and the studios that couldn't make that transition may never be able to recover fiscally.

Related: How Planet Fitness Grew in 2020, Even While Its Gyms Were Empty

The resurgence of the at-home workout

Last summer, Peloton announced it generated $607 million in revenue in just a matter of months. The absurdly trendy company doubled its membership base, inspiring other brands to offer their own streaming services. Barry's Bootcamp now offers at-home classes starting every 15 minutes, and gyms such as Equinox offer their own online streaming classes for members.

Alo Moves of Alo Yoga, an at-home fitness streaming service, launched nearly a decade ago. In just a matter of weeks, Alo saw a 300% increase in engagement on its paid platform as well as on its YouTube channel, where it hosts free classes for the Alo community. Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott launched the Tone It Up app in 2018, and since quarantine, downloads have increased by 950%.

So, now that gyms and studios are opening their doors again, will at-home workouts become a thing of the past again? All signs point to no. People may be heading back to their offices and returning to a more normal, pre-pandemic lifestyle. Still, they've seen just how beneficial it is to have flexibility in their schedules.

Related: Rise of Virtual Fitness Classes During Lockdown

A hybrid approach

While virtual workouts seemed to gain popularity throughout the pandemic, almost half of consumers opted out of streaming their workouts. Now, along with offering their in-person workouts, gyms, studios and trainers will need to seriously consider at-home options for their members. The convenience and flexibility of online fitness can no longer be ignored as people strive to keep physical activity levels up, even as they head back to the office either full or part-time.

While many Americans invested in various streaming services during the health crisis, demand appears to be fading. Online searches for "gym near me" accelerated in May relative to April, returning to all-time-high levels dating back to January 2020. This doesn't mean the home workout craze is ending; many are opting for studios that offer both in-home and in-person sessions.

"We believe that people will employ a hybrid approach, using the plethora of digital concepts and traditional gym experience," Jefferies analyst Randy Konik said. "Gyms that champion this model will emerge as winners in years to come."

Health and fitness coach Ariel Belgrave says, "I actually think that the future of fitness will be a blend of in-person and virtual workouts." Belgrave goes on to explain many people are still working remotely. While they enjoy the flexibility of at-home workouts, that doesn't mean they won't also want to hit a physical gym or studio one or two times a week. "Many brick-and-mortar gyms are already finding that members have a preference for a hybrid experience of being able to attend classes in person and virtually," she said.

Related: In 2021, Gyms Will Bet on a Hybrid Model to Survive

Employers need to make changes as well

Now that so many people have seen the benefits of a remote lifestyle, employers will need to adapt. Many businesses simply can't offer a remote lifestyle, but that doesn't mean they can't find ways to support their employees' desire to remain active and healthy.

Recent findings showed that 51.5% say their employers do not currently offer fitness benefits, and 63.4% wish that they did. With fitness being instrumental not only to peoples' health but also to overall productivity, employers must invest in the right tools and resources.

When you use company resources to promote healthy behaviors, you invest in your most important asset— your employees. In addition to addressing health problems, these initiatives improve work culture and employee morale. When properly implemented, workplace health programs can contribute to a 25% reduction in health-care costs. This is in addition to equivalent reductions in workers' compensation and disability-management expenses.

While the pandemic forced many fitness studios and gyms to close their doors permanently, those who have been able to adapt to the changes are reaping the benefits. The fitness industry's transformation only means more options, whether in-person or at-home, for people looking to stay fit and healthy even on their busiest days — and that trend is here to stay.

Wavy Line
Richard Maize

Financial and Investment Consultant

Richard Maize is a real-estate entrepreneur who has built a well-respected reputation for making astute business investments. Before the age of 30, Maize had already accumulated 1,000 apartment units, and he now owns property in 20 states. Additionally, Maize invests in TV and film and philanthropy.

Editor's Pick

'Catastrophic': Here's What You Should Know About the Debt Ceiling Crisis — And How a Default Could Impact Your Business
I Helped Grow 4 Unicorns Over 10 Years That Generated $18 Billion in Online Revenues. Here's What I've Learned.
Want to Break Bad Habits and Supercharge Your Business? Use This Technique.
Don't Have Any Clients But Need Customer Testimonials? Follow These 3 Tricks To Boost Your Rep.
Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? A Top Winemaker Gives a Full-Bodied Explanation.

Related Topics

Business News

'All Hell Is Going to Break Loose': Barbara Corcoran Issues Warning About Real Estate Market, Interest Rates

The "Shark Tank" star appeared on FOX Business' "The Clayman Countdown" this week.

Money & Finance

3 Ways to Create Multiple (Big) Streams of Income

Here are three ways to create multiple streams of income. These strategies require effort and resources but offer significant financial potential.


The Real Reason Why The Return to Office Movement is Failing is Revealed in New Study

There is a vivid sign of the disconnect between employees and their workplace, a glaring indication that companies need to revise their scripts to improve their hybrid and remote work policies.

Science & Technology

She's Been Coding Since Age 7 and Presented Her Life-Saving App to Tim Cook Last Year. Now 17, She's on Track to Solve Even Bigger Problems.

Angelina Tsuboi, a full-stack mobile and web developer who also happens to be a pilot, has always been solution-oriented.

Business News

7 of the 10 Most Expensive Cities to Live in the U.S. Are in One State

A new report by U.S. News found that San Diego is the most expensive city to live in for 2023-2024, followed by Los Angeles. New York City didn't even rank in the top 10.

Business News

An NFL Coach Saved a 3-Year-Old Boy From Drowning in a Hotel Pool. 'I'm Thankful I Knew What To Do.'

Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris was at the right place at the right time — with the right knowledge.