The last few months of lockdown forced us to bring outside activities at home & simultaneously appreciate even more the little outside time we could get. While digital fitness solutions like Live Classes and On Demand video certainly had a major impact on our health habits and will likely remain trending for the foreseeable future, the rise of outside training is undeniable. From daily walks and taking up running challenges to using one’s own weights in the garden, many discovered the wonders of outside exercise.
With UK gyms re-opening their doors to members on the 25th July, we take a look at how outside classes will impact the fitness industry in the next quarter.
Is outside gym exercise a new concept?
Until recently many people connected exercising to visiting the gym once or twice a week. When that was no longer an option, exercising outside became a way to stay sane in the weeks of unprecedented complete lockdown – even for those who didn’t previously use their fitness membership fully. Outside exercise quickly gained momentum and continues to even today due to its flexible nature and increased safety in comparison to indoor gatherings.
According to the Office For National Statistics, the second most common reason to go out after shopping in the past week remains exercise (ONS). What this tells us is that people are excited about staying active, even if that means doing so outside. ONS also reports that nearly 30% of those aged 16 to 60 are worried that they haven’t been able to exercise as normal, so there are definitely gym goers looking forward to resuming their fitness routines.
Why is outside exercise safer than indoor classes?
Exercising outside even in a small parking lot gives you extra breathing room, which is important in the current recovering phase of the COVID-19 lockdown. According to experts outside classes are safer due to social distancing but also because “environmental factors like wind and UV [radiation, which degrades most viruses] make it less likely you’re going to come in contact with viral particles” (NPR).
While a second wave of the UK COVID-19 cases is not completely out of the question in the summer months, another expert suggests that “climate may or may not be a factor, but we know that spreading is less easy outdoors” (New Scientist).
How can you offer outside activities to exercisers?
There is a degree to the safety of different activities that you can practice outside. You can drive PT engagement with smaller training groups and encourage 1-to-1 sessions as a starting point.
Outside group classes where exercisers are maintaining social distance throughout the workout and limiting the exchange of equipment are likely to be as safe as 1-to-1 sessions. If the weather allows it, you should seize the opportunity to boost your fitness community and create a buzz with outside workouts.
Whether you introduce outside classes to your schedule or not, ultimately you should aim to keep workouts shorter for everyone’s benefit. Staff members will have more time to clean equipment and gym surfaces as often as possible, while exercisers will have more booking slots available to join.
What are the most trending outside classes right now?
Boot Camp training
Strengthening the body is bound to strengthen the mind, or at least that’s one of the driving factors for the success of the military-inspired training. If we thought boot camps were a sensation in 2016, they have now almost become a must have for your gym in 2020!
Experts suggest that Yoga and Pilates routines might be safer than cardio-focused workouts since the latter increase your breathing rate and with it the number of particles that you inhale (Today). This mindful approach to exercise is perfect for exercisers who might have struggled with stress and anxiety over the past few months.
The short and powerful HIIT classes are great both indoors and outdoors. Their impact – especially when performed routinely – is long-term with visible results as soon as you’re done sweating.
Safety comes first, creativity next!
Gym goers will need to feel safe before returning to your fitness club, but creating classes that exercisers can’t recreate in their living room might just be the key to thriving after lockdown.