Has coronavirus permanently changed the way we keep fit?

By Kwame Boakye
June 18 2020, 11.05

With gyms closed until July at the earliest fitness junkies have had to go elsewhere to get their fix, with many seeking out online classes to stay in shape.

Self-styled body coach and Richmond resident Joe Wicks has been described as the nation’s ‘unofficial PE Teacher’ due to his YouTube videos exploding in popularity after gym doors closed in March.

With the rise of online workouts, uncertainties regarding when gyms will re-open and the safety of using such facilities post lockdown; what is the future of the traditional gym?

Lucy Krizan, 31, has been a personal trainer for three years and has had to adjust to new ways of interacting with her clients, she said: “It took me time to realise that I will probably have to change my approach. Personal training for me means the personal touch.”

CHANGING HER APPROACH: Lucy Krizan has adapted how her business works

Lucy added: “I don’t want to stay an online trainer, I need people, I need energy, but as part of the business it’s good to also be available online.”

Lucy now teaches her classes via her website three times a week, but is yet to a have an influx of new clients.

She said: “Right now I’m not getting more people into my classes, I think people are waiting to hear what the government is going to say about lockdown and when gyms will re-open.”

Before coronavirus, the fitness industry was experiencing a boom period: 10 million people in the UK had a gym membership and Brits were spending a record £5bn on keeping fit.

The online fitness world is now experiencing a similar boom; fitness company Les Mills has experienced a 900% increase in sign ups for its digital fitness service.

Jordan Deacon, 28, has been a strength and conditioning coach for 2 years and works out of the One London gym in Fulham.

UNCERTAIN: Jordan Deacon is not sure if people will return to gyms when they reopen

Jordan doubts there will be an influx of fitness devotees queuing up when gym doors re-open.

He said: “I think a lot of people will be hesitant to go back to the gym. Some people probably won’t go back because they will have found a new way of training.”

Jordan added: “Before people thought they had to go to the gym, now with people exploring different ways of keeping fit, it might make people think whether they actually need the gym.”

With lockdown restrictions easing Jordan is eager to do some outdoor socially distanced sessions, however he plans to dedicate more of his time to training clients online.

He said: “With all of this happening I will put a lot more of my training online and teach people face to face here and there.”

Sarah Bjornsen, 25, is an operations manager at Manor London gym and has been a personal trainer for five years, in stark contrast with Jordan’s views, she is confident that it will be business as usual when gyms re-open.

CRAVING THE GYM: Sarah Bjornsen thinks people are looking forward to going back

She said: “Based on what our members are messaging us, they are craving going back to the gym.

“Being in a space full of other people, seeing what they do and pushing each other gives a whole different experience, I think most people will go back to the gym as soon as they can.”

Sarah feels that the experience of lockdown will mean that more people will be seeking to embrace the communal aspects of the gym when they re-open.

She said: “People have realised training was keeping them sane, a lot more people will be joining gyms because they’ve learnt how strong the sense of community is at their local gym.”

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