Or will it? It's a great question and there are still a lot of unknowns at the time of writing.
The gym is a close quarters environment, if you're working hard, there should be plenty of deep breathing and sweat, there will be public safety concern and gym reopenings have been pushed back, not great news. However, hope is not lost, COVID rates are reducing, gyms are proactively taking precautions, they are adding screens, upping the cleaning, numbers of users will be throttled, classes cut back. Gyms will be back and there will be plenty of demand.
(image credit CNBC Hong Kong)
Less space, more demand?
If gyms are limited on the numbers of customers that are allowed to work out, what's going to happen? After 3 months without gym equipment (for those who haven't shopped with us) there is going to be huge demand, but the supply won't be able to cope with this demand. We will see the public with hefty monthly gym subscriptions who aren't getting their full value. They will have limited sessions, limited time in the, although this might be a blessing in disguise, more focused and efficient workouts; less of you who work out for 2 hours but spend 1.5 hours on your phone taking Insta pics of you 'working out', I know you're out there people! I worry a little for the gyms themselves, with high demand but an inability to provide the same service as before, they are going to get a lot of cancellations which in return leads to less revenue. So how do they address it? I can only see them surviving if they put up prices. But will customers want to pay more, but be able to use the gym less? I don't know.
Small gyms will thrive!
I think small specialist gyms and performance gyms will do really well. They have less overheads, they have lower user numbers but a higher price point. The users here normally pay a premium but they are pretty serious athletes. These gyms don't need to have high volumes of customers which in the current climate just wouldn't be feasible, but what they do have is great quality equipment. Many of these are investing in antimicrobial barbells too to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria through gym usage. (Watch this space - we have two new types of barbells coming in early August). For large chain gyms, it's a numbers game, they charge a reduced rate, have huge premises, and large numbers of customers, you go into one of these gyms at peak time and you'll be in a queue to get to the bench press. During a period where they have had lots of cancelled memberships, they will now need to invest in new safe equipment to provide reassurance to the public, but do they have the funds? We really hope they manage to ride out the storm, the more options the UK public has to exercise and get in shape the better!
Home gyms are the future
A lot of people have already adapted, they have invested in kit and have started working out from home. The key challenge here is motivation. The motivated will see real results, the unmotivated may need some external assistance. The gym can be great, there is often a community that provides motivation, but it can also be a faff, people travel to the gym for 20 mins each way, work out for 60 mins, get changed and have a shower either side, that's 2 hours out of the day. Instead we are seeing people are now embracing the home workout, be that in the living room, a spare room, in the garage or the garden, for the lucky ones, a dedicated gym, but we are talking about a quality 30/40 minute session, it's a real time saver. So I do think the home gym workouts are here to stay, especially for those with dedication and discipline. For those that need a helping hand, I think you'll be just fine, we will see an emergence of online only PT's, workout communities, remote fitness classes etc. There are lots of PT's who are now pivoting how they do business. A weekly check in on Zoom and a shared remote class to 6 of their clients is a huge earner. Before everything was manual, they needed to physically be there in person, one on one, now, they can add huge value to a volume of people in a scalable way. Instagram live sessions are going through the roof, they are great fun and the engagement is incredible. PT's need to adapt, they need to become digitally ready for what I see as being a fairly large shift in how the UK populate exercises.
To summarise, gyms will be back, but behaviours will change. We will see an emergence of instagram stars who motivate the UK public to get or stay in shape, and many will choose to create home-gyms due to perceived reduced value of commercial gyms, and the convenience of working out at home. Some will thrive, others will struggle, PT's will survive and gyms will charge double (I'm sure they won't but it sounded poetic).
If we can help any future Instagram stars and recommend your home workout sessions, just DM us on Instagram: @recharge_fit