It’s fair to say that 2020 wasn’t the year any of us were expecting and Covid-19 has changed our world as we know it – including the world of fitness and wellbeing.
With cycling up 200%, workouts moving from the weights room to the living room, Joe Wicks (MBE) taking up the baton as the nation’s PE teacher and the recognition that gyms are so much more than just a space to exercise in, health, fitness and wellbeing has never played such an important role in people’s lives.
One of the more significant shifts in the nation’s psyche has been a revaluation of what is really important in life and reappreciation for the smaller and simpler things.
A family party, a wedding celebration with friends and family, sundowners on the beach, all still, at the time of writing, seemingly distant memories.
Yet joy has been rediscovered in other ways: by working parents free of the long commute now able to do the morning school-run, newly found local walking routes, a stronger sense of community and the kindness shown by neighbours and strangers.
How will this impact the fitness and wellbeing industries next year? David Lloyd’s Club experts are on hand to share their thoughts:
APPY EVER AFTER – A HAPPY UNION FOR DIGITAL & IN CLUB TRAINING
With the forced closure of gyms and leisure facilities in March 2020, digital fitness and wellness solutions skyrocketed.
David Lloyd Clubs DL@home team worked around the clock to roll-out a digital offer for members: with classes ranging from higher intensity sessions such as BLAZE, bodyweight conditioning sessions, tennis coaching, plus yoga and pilates programmes.
There was content for families, as well as topics such as stress management and even some dry land training for swimmers.
“We went live with DL@home the day after our Clubs were closed in March,” commented Simon Pearson, David Lloyd Product Project Manager. “Our instructors set up studios at home and put together programmes that were accessible and engaging – streaming live into living rooms, bedrooms, gardens and home offices across the UK.
People were finding the confidence to try new genres of classes in the comfort of their own home and seeing the benefits they could bring.”
He continued: “As our Clubs reopened, we realised our digital offer complemented our in-club offering; for example our racquets members were following the Yoga for Tennis sessions, runners were downloading the stretching classes and there was a growing appetite for our wellness content.
We realised that by combining the digital and our in-club experience, we could offer our members something incredibly enriching.”
“And it’s not just complimentary training. With many people still working from home, we’ve seen an increasing demand for shorter online workouts that can be fitted in between meetings, supplemented by a longer session in the Club.
Having a DL @home instructor in your pocket gives you the reassurance that you’ll be coached by someone highly qualified, wherever you choose to train.”
OUR LOVE AFFAIR WITH CYCLING CONTINUES
As anyone who tried to buy a bike in early summer would know, cycling was *the* activity of 2020, soaring by a staggering 200% during lockdown.
“Across lockdown one, cycling ticked the boxes of a means to keep fit, keep the family entertained and get some fresh air – I’m not surprised it was so popular!” commented Michelle Dand, Head of Fitness Product and Programming at David Lloyd Clubs.
She continued: “It’s a great way to get moving and to get the endorphins going. It’s low impact, so kinder on your joints, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
As winter approaches, the popularity of indoor cycling has rocketed, so we have sped up the roll out of our two new products. If you’re keen to track your performance, our CYCLONE classes use data to help you improve and to push yourself to your own limits, via endurance, sprints and climbing tracks. In Rhythm, we ride as one to the beat, working both mind and body.”
TEAMS MEETS & TRICEP DIPS
With office capacity significantly reduced, homeworkers looking for a space to work outside the home have tapped into the potential of David Lloyd Clubs, working from the spacious club rooms and adult business lounges.
Alongside enquiries for corporate membership packages which have increased 52% YOY, individuals are using the space to work and combining classes, swims or training sessions in the gym to ensure a healthy work-life balance.
Members like the fact they can get a decent coffee, nutritious meals, Wi-fi and have access to unparalleled fitness facilities to boost the endorphins. Having someone to speak to face-to-face is also a big plus, especially for those living alone and working from home.
SWIM IN YOUR OWN LANE
The lived experience of 2020 was different for everyone, with the expression “the same storm, but different boats” perfectly describing the situation.
Whilst some were able to work from home, others continued to work on the front line; some were able to creatively home school, whilst others struggled; some made the most of furlough enjoying gardening and baking, others feared job security and the impact of a loss in income.
Everyone had a very individual experience.
Lucy Day, David Lloyd Club’s Head of Gym believes this individualised experience will cross over to the sector: “I believe we’ll see a shift in 2021 into ‘being about you’ and less of a one-size fits all approach.
I always say to my kids “swim in your own lane” don’t worry about anyone else and I see this vibe more and more in our Clubs and via our online DL Run Club community. What works for me, won’t work for you.”
She continued: “In 2021 we’ll be rolling out a new and exclusive product – a personalised training programme incorporating expert fitness, nutrition and most significantly psychological support.
Everyone has a different goal and different challenges, and our teams are here to coach and support with bespoke plans.
We’ll be looking at a lifestyle change; exploring the psychology behind goal setting, discovering what motivates each person, and what fitness and nutritional changes are realistically achievable given their circumstances.”
“We all know we should drink less caffeine and eat our veg, but this programme takes that up a notch. It’s a programme for all – whether you’re new to fitness, back training after suffering from Covid-19 or treatment for another illness, wanting to change your lifestyle to better manage a diabetes diagnosis or want to lose weight and boost your immune system.”
THE RISE OF THE COMMUNITY
A bespoke personalised approach doesn’t mean solitary training and isolation. On the contrary, the sense of a community and desire to belong will continue to grow in 2021.
Across lockdown, the David Lloyd community came alive online, best illustrated through DL Run Club, a Facebook community group for runners of all abilities. “It’s a space for chat, support and encouragement,” commented founder and David Lloyd Clubs Head of Gym, Lucy Day.
“Running is a real personal sport, it’s very much you versus you, for those moments you run, you’re in another zone, making it a perfect escapism from daily life. But via our online community, you’ve still got that sense of belonging to something and everyone rallies together, regardless of where they live or their own running ability.”
Michelle Dand, Head of Fitness Product and Programming at David Lloyd Clubs agrees that this sense of community will thrive in the fitness industry in 2021 and believes popularity for group exercise will soar as restrictions ease.
“Loneliness is at an all-time high in the UK, and our members tell us that they can’t wait to get back into our group exercises classes. Nothing quite beats that buzz of working out in a group – the energy in the room always pushes you that little bit further. And we know real friendships are formed in the Clubs, with motivation not just in the studio but outside too.”
REST DAYS RULE
Hands up who feels like rest days are cheating? Not Lucy Day, Head of Gym at David Lloyd Clubs, who is making 2021 the unofficial year of the rest day.
“So often I hear that rest days are a waste of a day, or that you’re not serious about your training if you rest. But rest days are crucial. If you don’t rest, you’re not going to make progress,” commented Lucy.
“Given the increasing awareness of the importance of good mental health and a shift towards being kinder to ourselves, I predict the rest day gaining the status it truly deserves in 2021.”
Lucy continued: “You have to let your body heal, let the muscles recover and crucially make sure that when you do train, you’re not fatigued and likely to increase your chances of picking up an injury.
There’s no strict formula – what works for one won’t be right for another. If you’re mostly weight training, you’ll probably get away with fewer rest “days” as on leg day, your arms will be resting and vice-versa.
But if you’re running, cycling or mostly cardio training, it’s likely you’ll need a few more. If you’re struggling to wake up, feeling like you’re not progressing, or feel like your motivation is waning, chances are a rest day will help.”
She added: “This doesn’t mean doing nothing and I know how hard it is to not train! Switch up to a restorative yoga class, take the dog for a walk, or explore a meditation session via our app or something like Calm.”
It’s a view wholeheartedly supported by David Lloyd Clubs Head of Spa, Steph Holland who led the roll-out of ASMR, Alpha Wave Meditation and Sound Meditation in selected Clubs in early 2020.
“2020 has certainly seen a spike in the awareness of self-care and its importance in everyday life. Meditation has become the norm as opposed to the unknown. Across 2021 we will be offering Wellness Retreats both live and digitally along with Sound Meditation using Gongs, Sound Bowls and various other methods to enhance wellbeing,” commented Steph.
She continued: “We have also dedicated wellness suites within our Super Spas focused entirely on meditation through the use of Alpha Wave Meditation which is played binaurally through a personal headset to provoke feeling of positivity, focus and to promote deeper sleep patterns.”
Indeed, Steph is also predicting more of a focus on a good night sleep, not only quantity but quality. She concluded: “The benefits of sleep are hugely impactful on everyday life and general health and wellbeing.
We will be developing our bespoke sleep and meditation rooms to provide a tranquil space, relaxing music and guided sleep meditations partnering with experts to provide the best solution possible.”
EXERCISE AS MEDICINE
With the rise in rest days comes a shift in attitudes, with a widespread acceptance of exercise as a medicine, as opposed to a chore.
In November 2020, ukactive, NHS England and Improvement (NHSE/I), Sport England and the National Academy for Social Prescribing teamed up to offer 100k people free gym and physical activity sessions.
The scheme will see an initial 500k hours of activity being made available in the first year – at no cost – via the social prescribing services being rolled out across England. The new partnership comes at a crucial time – as people have become more aware of the benefits of physical activity for their personal health during the pandemic.
“Considering exercise as a medicine will become far more common in 2021,” commented Lucy Day, David Lloyd Clubs Head of Gym, “it shouldn’t be seen as a chore, but as part of a balanced approach to a healthy lifestyle and a major solution to help reduce the pressure on the NHS and lead people to live healthier, happier lives.”
LET’S GO OUTSIDE
We’ll still be training outside in 2021, getting a dose of Vitamin D, some fresh air and an endorphin surge to boot. But we’ll be looking for something more than a jog or a cycle. To meet this growing demand, David Lloyd Clubs will be continuing the roll-out of its BATTLEBOX product.
“Set on a custom-built rig, our BATTLEBOX participants face climbing nets, monkey bars, and ladders,” explained Michelle Dand, Head of Fitness Product and Programming at David Lloyd Clubs.
“Follow that with training in each “zone” and you’ve got a full-body workout with pull and push movements, utilising body weight and equipment. Sessions are fast-paced and lots of fun!”
“I’m a big fan of outdoor training. Studies show it enhances moods and boosts Vitamin D levels. We train in all weathers – there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes!”
Lockdown has brought a new appreciation of the great outdoors with time spent in nature found to help with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Steph Holland, David Lloyd Clubs, Head of Spa, believes this wellness trend will continue in 2021, with increasing outdoor yoga, Pilates and meditation classes and more opportunities for people to come together socially in the fresh air.
“All of your senses wake up outside: scent, sight, and touch, in particular, activate parts of the brain that make you more present,” commented Steph. “It’s incredibly grounding and compliments many of our wellbeing classes.
It also adds another dimension, we lose the comfort of the studio as we embrace nature, forcing you to control your reactions and take your practice deeper.”
OR BRING THE OUTSIDE IN
Known for their instant calming restorative effects, sales of house plants rocketed with Patch, an online houseplant retailer, reporting a sales surge of 500% during lockdown.
They essentially do the opposite of what we do when we breathe: release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. This not only freshens up the air, but also eliminates harmful toxins.
“Caring for a plant is good for the soul,” comments David Lloyd Clubs Head of Spa, Steph Holland, and there’s a deeper message in there too – what their growth can tell us about their own. And of course, plants have been used in horticultural therapy for years along with aromatherapy and cooking.”
The technique of using hot and cold therapies has been widely popular dating back to Roman times due to its host of benefits, and treatments such as cryotherapy have been predicted to become a trend in 2021.
The health benefits of this therapy are plentiful, as Steph explains: “Raising the body’s temperature dilates the blood vessels on the surface of the skin, increasing blood flow and creating a sense of calmness.
From a hot environment, immersing in a cold plunge pool causes the skin’s pores to close, shutting in heat. There’s a shift in blood pressure, which in turn encourages the body to flush out toxins and muscles to release tensions.
And the best bit? The 10-15-minute period of resting in our meditation rooms or solariums, letting the body rest and stabilising blood flow and heart rate. The body relaxes into a deeper state and muscles become more relaxed.”
At David Lloyd Clubs the Spa Retreat journey focuses around ‘Heat, Cool, Relax’, with Himalayan Salt Saunas, Amethyst Crystal Steam Rooms, Ice Caves, cold plunge pools and Hot & Cold Experience Showers.
FAMILY WELLNESS AND FAMILY BATTLES
A recent NSPCC reported that calls to the charity’s Childline service at nearly 43,000 between March and October, with mental health worries making up more than a third of all its counselling sessions.
The charity warns that rising stress levels have taken a significant toll on the mental and emotional health of young people.
It’s a concern shared by Susie Malcolm, David Lloyd Clubs Head of Family, a firm champion of wellness classes for children and a passionate advocate of fitness for mental health.
“For many children, their entire worlds’ were turned upside down in 2020. For younger children, the safety and security of school was taken away and in doing so the world got a little bit scarier.
For those old enough to watch the news, it was one long spiral of negativity and the withdrawal of friends and wider support groups was hard hitting.”
“But there have been positives; it’s becoming far more normal to talk more about feelings, emotions and mental health issues. Authors such as Bryony Gordon, Matthew Syed and Matt Haig have started and continue to drive forward the conversation and we’re seeing more celebrities and sports stars opening up.”
“We live such hectic, fast paced lives, but 2020 forced us to slow down and, well, do nothing more than go for a family walk or a family board game. Suddenly, without after school activities and social commitments to work around, there was time to just be together.
She continued: “We can learn from our adult members, who cite the positive impact of fitness on their mental being,” added Susie. “As a leader in the industry, we take our responsibility of getting kids into sport and fitness seriously. And we also know, it’s best served with a dose of fun on the side.”
“With this in mind, a key roll-out for us in 2021 is our BATTLEBOX PLAY offer.
Taking place outside, on our custom-built rigs, BATTLEBOX PLAY pits children against grown-ups, and is lots of fun! My two loved trying to topple my plank to earn me extra burpees and we were all very competitive in getting around the course as quickly as possible. Our experts have designed the classes to ensure they’re a challenge for everyone.”
In addition to BATTLEBOX PLAY, David Lloyd also encourages children aged 10+ to safely use the gym by participation in the Gym Start Up programme, which provides a simple introduction to the gym and ensure that they are comfortable in using equipment safely and correctly.
After induction, children are free to use the gym during supervised sessions. Those aged 15 and above can use the gym freely with no supervision.