Gyms around the world are set for a roaring recovery as they emerge from the pandemic, with fitness fans eager to get out of the house and back to working out with friends.
That’s according to a major new report that charts a global ‘live revival’, with fitness fans flocking to facilities for greater motivation and social connection after months of solitary home workouts.
The 2021 Les Mills Global Fitness Report – which features insights from 12,157 consumers across five continents – explores how the pandemic has changed our fitness habits and spotlights the trends that will shape our workouts in years to come.
Despite fears the COVID-inspired home fitness boom would spell the end for fitness facilities, research suggests the majority of members can’t wait to get back to their club.
The report finds gyms worldwide making strong recoveries since reopening, with class occupancy at 120% of pre-COVID levels in markets where capacity restrictions have lifted.
After a year of enforced isolation, appetite for live fitness experiences in groups is soaring, with 85% of gymgoers interested in trying live classes in their facility.
Two thirds of gym members (66%) say they prefer working out in groups, while live classes in club are seen as twice as appealing as online classes that are livestreamed.
Rockstar Instructors are identified as the single most important component for gymgoers when choosing a live classes, meeting the yearn for added motivation and deeper connection in their workouts.
“After months of being stuck at home, people can’t wait to get back to fitness facilities and enjoy their favorite workouts with familiar faces,” says Phillip Mills, Les Mills Founder and Executive Director.
“Much like bars, restaurants and sports events, fitness is experiencing a real ‘live revival’ as people make up for lost time with renewed appreciation for real-world social settings.
“Many people have missed the thrill of a busy class and the extra motivation you get from working out with others and being led by a rockstar Instructor.
“But that doesn’t mean that home workouts will disappear as we emerge from the pandemic. The digital fitness boom and the growth of home working means consumers are taking an omnichannel approach to their training to stay more active, mixing thrilling live workouts at the gym with the convenience of digital workouts at home.”
The impact of the pandemic on the fitness landscape is evident throughout the report. The COVID-induced digital fitness boom looks set to endure, with 80% of gym members planning to continue using digital workouts post-pandemic.
‘Omnichannel Fitness’ – a blend of in-gym and home workouts – is tipped to gain traction as we emerge from the pandemic, with the majority of exercisers (59%) favouring a 60:40 split between gym and home workouts.
Lockdown has also spawned a new generation of fitness fans who have taken tentative steps into fitness and are now deciding what comes next, with 27% of regular exercisers describing themselves as ‘absolute beginners’.
The report finds that 82% of consumers now regularly exercise (or soon plan to), while 75% of this group do gym-type activities, making fitness the world’s biggest sport. HIIT is crowned as the world’s most popular fitness class, favoured by 31% of participants, closely followed by Indoor Cycling (30%) and Dance classes (28%).