The landscape of personal fitness has changed drastically in the wake of the pandemic, as a recent report from Mintel has pointed out. While the pandemic drove more people to exercise than in previous years, many of those people are now missing the personal connection that commercial gyms offer. In fact, for many who started working out during the pandemic, the idea of exercising for better physical health is only a small part of their reasoning for doing it in the first place.
After nearly two years of restrictions and isolation, people are ready to re-establish social connections, according to Mintel, giving in-person facilities an elevated appeal to consumers. Almost a third of regular exercisers (29%) agree: the community aspect of being a gym member is a very appealing part of the experience. This is also considering that 78% of Americans agree that mental/emotional wellbeing is the number one reason for exercising, with physical wellbeing trailing by two percentage points.
“The role of gyms in consumers’ lives is so much larger than physical exercise. For many, the pandemic has elevated the importance of gyms because they can assist with mental health, give exercisers time for themselves, stick to a routine and socialize with fellow gym-goers. According to research from Mintel’s Global COVID-19 Tracker, over half of Americans said that the pandemic made them realize they want to take better care of their mental health. It is due to these differentiators that we predict that consumers will add in-person exercise back into their routines along with continued digital home workouts.”
The Commercial and Residential Fitness Landscape is Changing
Obviously, the home gyms that were constructed during the pandemic are not going anywhere, and its not to say that demand for these types of spaces in the home will diminish as time goes on. According to Mintel, consumers are increasingly finding more enjoyment in exercising, with many (35%) using it as an opportunity to take time to themselves. This has led to over a third of respondents (36%) exercising with increased regularity since the start of the pandemic.
Overall, this has led to an increase in weekly exercise among respondents, rising from 67% in 2020 to 72% in 2021, with 29% being over the age of 55, a demographic that has long been sidelined by the fitness industry.
“Aging consumers have traditionally been ignored by the fitness industry, yet they make up a large portion of the population. COVID-19 highlighted the connection between age and decreased immunity to disease, thus motivating a significant number of mature consumers to renew their focus on physical health.
“This resurgence in physical activity in older consumers, combined with the sheer volume of this demographic, provides an opportunity for the fitness industry. Brands that cater to older consumers by focusing on resistance, flexibility, and balance training along with low-intensity strength workouts will reap the benefits of gaining a host of new, older clients,” continued Watters.
It also provides an opportunity to residential home experts looking to provide a differentiated set of options for homeowners that have long since been swept to the side by commercial offerings.
Exercising Increasingly Viewed as an ‘Escape’ by Consumers
Interestingly, parents are exercising more than non-parents since the pandemic hit. A third (33%) of dads with children under the age of 18 at home exercise daily versus 22% of consumers overall. In fact, parents with kids under the age of 18 over-index for using exercise as a way to boost moods and take times for themselves.
“The COVID-19 pandemic forced many to stay home, adapt and change their routines – especially when it comes to exercising. While it may seem counterintuitive that parents with young kids are exercising more, the increased responsibilities of parents two years into the pandemic, including childcare and at-home schooling, have taken their toll. Workouts have become one of a few activities available to Americans during months of quarantining and many parents turned to fitness to escape their hectic schedules and blow off steam.”
Waters then goes on to state that purveyors of fitness, be they commercial facilitators, residential contractors or digital services, should do well to take a more well-rounded approach to fitness. A universal approach will be pivotal in creating solutions and experiences that are salient to the current consumer.