How coronavirus has changed the way we exercise forever

The coronavirus pandemic has up-ended our fitness routines – and experts say many of those newfound exercise habits are here to stay.

When lockdown restrictions forced Australians to reassess how, when and where they exercised, many discovered a refreshing, new approach to getting active.

And fitness industry experts believe much of the way we have been working out in 2020 will continue long after COVID-19 lockdowns ease for good.

So which parts of our new-look exercise habits are here to stay?

Exercising in the great outdoors

During the peak of lockdowns, one of the few permitted reasons to leave home was for exercise, which allowed people to reconnect with green spaces in their neighbourhoods.

“For some, they may have ended up being more active than they were prior to restrictions being put in place as they ventured out for a walk to break the monotony of being stuck at home,” says Ewan, national academic manager at fitness education provider FIAFitnation.

Ewan believes the outdoors might become a permanent backdrop for some smaller operators.

“Smaller gyms will find it harder to meet social distancing requirements and in some cases this may even see a pivot of their business model with outdoor spaces providing some refuge from costly overheads,” he says.

There are additional health benefits to being outdoors including getting a dose of vitamin D.

Studies show getting outside protects against a range of issues including depression, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and more.

Leaning on technology to get fit

While we were shut off from much of our regular lives physically, a saving grace was being able to remain connected digitally, which allowed many of us to keep up our fitness routine.

“Never have fitness, nutrition and health and wellbeing resources been so readily available,” Vision Personal Training founder and managing director Andrew Simmons says.

Ewan believes the convenience of at-home or online workouts will continue to be popular and potentially make exercise more available.

“Structured exercise is more accessible than it has ever been, with no need to leave your home to get the guidance of an experienced trainer in real time,” he says.

More awareness of the health and wellness benefits of exercise

Andrew believes our pandemic experience has prompted a greater awareness of health and wellbeing.

“The pandemic created a shift where consumers not only place a higher value on their health but moments of joy in their everyday lives,” Andrew says.

Traditional gyms will evolve too

Ewan and Andrew are confident the traditional gym will not disappear.

“There are so many things about a gym that people crave that can’t be replicated online,” Ewan says.

He says savvy gyms will bounce back with a more holistic approach to health, with many fitness professionals using lockdown to upskill in topical areas such as gut health, nutrition and weight loss.

Andrew says the social aspect of gyms is still a drawcard for many.

“Humans are social beings and with the tight-knit communities we have built in our studios, we are certain we will see our clients return – in fact they can’t wait,” Andrew says.

Written by Claire Burke.