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What to Know About the Future of Fitness Post-Pandemic: Franchising, Boutique Studios and Safety The world is rapidly changing -- and with it, the way we workout and view physical exercise.

By Sebastien Lagree Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Undoubtedly, 2020 rocked many industries incredibly hard, threatening the very foundation that so many companies are built upon. The fitness industry underwent significant changes in 2020 as people around the world sought out new ways to stay healthy under the restraints set in place due to the global pandemic. From Zoom classes to equipment purchases, things settled down and many were able to establish a new rhythm that best suited their lifestyles.

Many fitness companies stuck in ways of the past sunk, as they couldn't burden the financial setback, but a vast majority swam and survived, growing their brands digitally on the new fitness frontier — and my company, Lagree Fitness, is no exception.

The transition period

Owning a global company, with more than 400 locations in 30 countries and counting, several of our studios responded differently to the COVID-19 pandemic, given physical location and limitations. Lagree studios were put on pause for nearly a year, as our dedicated clientele couldn't attend in-person classes. But, distinctly aware that exercise and physical health is a huge source of healing for so many, especially during such difficult times, we pivoted — and so did our licensees — with the introduction of our Microformer training machine.

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

Adapting and pivoting

Including all the same features of the Megaformer, which made Lagree a household name, the Microformer is smaller, compact, and much easier to store. It still allows for participants to complete the same exercises as they can on the Mega, but they can simply wheel it in, or out, of a room. COVID-19 has demanded that entrepreneurs continue to push past what limits our innovation and creativity, and develop new ways to further our industries as the world around us rapidly changes. The fitness industry boomed in 2020 because entrepreneurs in the space did just that. The Microformer, joining several other home-fitness programs and machines that emerged from the events of 2020, is part of the new wave of fitness, which we will only see continuing to undergo changes. In addition to the Micro, Lagree will begin producing all kinds of fitness apparatus in 2021.

A new normal

Although gyms and exercise studios have gradually begun to re-open their doors, what happens now? Limited capacity makes for very small classes (if any at all), and some people still aren't comfortable working out in a public environment. We all have our own comfort levels, and it's important for leaders to execute all possible options for your industry in order to best serve your clientele, all of whom will respond differently to every additional development from COVID-19. While home fitness devices and apps/online tutorials are great for those who feel more secure indoors, as the world begins to settle back into a new normal and studios reopen, people who are comfortable being there, will be there. In order to make exercise experiences safe as we dip our toes back into the group fitness universe, get savvy. There are no limits. Entrepreneurship, as I see it, is about finding and pushing the limits. Limits are not boundaries, they are just reference points.

My resolution

Outdoor classes are great options to encourage clients to easing back into the class structure, but at a steady pace. Lagree Fitness has seen incredible results from our outdoor Microformer classes around Los Angeles, and our intent is to soon tour them around the state of California, domestically, and eventually, partner with our international licensees to reach our global clients. Group fitness is an incredibly healing and socially positive force for many people's mental health, especially those longing for a sense of community during such trivial moments. Sharing the intimate experience of challenging yourself, testing your resilience, and sweating to the finish line alongside a trusted instructor and companion(s) is a special thing, and it's one we can't let get lost in the rubble of 2020. Studios will open with a safe and steady roll-out plan, and those eager to work out in that space will have the opportunity to do so, as long as we owners don't let them down and continuously create fresh and modern methods. We can't ever stop thinking one step ahead, and I always dare myself to be future-oriented, as my team has been doing with our outdoor classes, which the community has truly responded so well to, as they view it as a source of relief, freedom, fun, and healing through physical wellness.

Related: 5 Ways to Fix Your Fitness and Undo Pandemic Pounds

If 2020 taught me anything, it's to prepare for the absolute worst, and be ready a year before it hits. My machines and methods are evolving on a monthly basis, operating on a continuation of improvement. I love finding out what can be done better, and I never want to stop learning. I'm dyslexic, which to the surprise of many, is a complete advantage. My brain is wired differently, and I cherish it.

Sebastien Lagree

Lagree Fitness founder

As the inventor, CEO and founder of Lagree Fitness, Sebastien Lagree continues to push the limits of the fitness industry. His ceaseless efforts to elevate the fitness world have proven to be effective. Lagree holds 97 patents and Lagree Fitness was named the No.1 workout on ClassPass.

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