The most amazing outcome, though, is that as gyms have reopened (and closed and then reopened), the clients have stuck. Where appropriate, and possible, they come to her facility and adhere to strict Covid-19 protocols or she travels to them, again making an effort to differentiate from “mainstream gyms” by placing a high premium on hygiene, ventilation and social distancing that just isn’t as doable in a traditional gym set-up.
What about me? I’ve had a gym membership since Health and Racket club signed you up with little laminated cards that looked like cheap versions of our licence cards. During the hard lockdown, no amount of online high intensity interval training was going to suffice — for me. Sure, I did it and enjoyed it, but my primary love is strength and weight training as I am sold — for good or for bad — on the fat-burning, muscle-building and overall benefits of trying to become, and remain, strong. So I invested in a home gym — I never have to step foot in a traditional gym again. And yet, I have not cancelled my membership.
Why, you may ask? Because nothing beats a gym. Full stop. I miss saying “Hi” to the people I trained alongside for years. My gut says gyms — at least the big ones — are safe for many years to come, but the way people use them will change forever.
But, is this a fantasy? According to a recent article on the BBC, it is not. As Welsh gyms have reopened post-lockdown, the gym numbers are healthy and people are training longer, later, and because of hybrid working conditions, they are training throughout the day. The means the awful, squashed rush between 5pm and 8pm no longer exists.
According to the BBC article, “PureGym’s 1-million members now visit 1.43 times a week on average, compared with 1.21 before lockdown, while the 5pm-8pm peak has ‘quietened down’. Visits are also now spread across the day and later into the evening.”
The nuance worth noting, though, is in this sentence: “Personal trainer Harley Edwards said she had seen a change, with 100 of her 150 clients exercising solely online.”
A little further down the article, the author quotes Edwards again: “When Welsh gyms reopened in May after lockdown, she expected demand for virtual sessions to drop, but said: ‘I didn't experience a dip at all and I found that members that did cancel ended up rejoining again’.”