Getting in Shape
Ready to ramp up your fitness after lockdown? Here’s how gyms and fitness studios are adapting.
While lockdown has forced a change in our fitness habits – and a boom in online classes – many of us are eager to get back to the gym. A recent survey has revealed that 88% of fitness club members are keen to return.
“People often have gyms in their apartment blocks but they don’t go to those because they’re not busy with people, they have no atmosphere, great music or inspiring instructors,” says James Balfour, co-founder of boutique fitness studio chain 1Rebel.“I’m 100 per cent convinced that people want to come back and have that experience again.”
But when people do return to the gym, the experience will be rather different. There will be limits on class sizes, greater spaces between gym machines, and a more frequent cleaning of equipment.
At 1Rebel there will be self-scanning device at the entrance to check customers’ temperatures. Says James: “An email will go to the front of house person and an alert will go off if the client has a high temperature. It might sound slightly dystopian, but it’s set to become commonplace.”
Gyms and fitness studios are also introducing new tech such as contactless check-ins. And there is likely to be stricter, staggered check-in times. A spokesperson for Digme, a boutique chain offering spin and HIIT classes, explains: “We ideally want to allow class participants to fully exit the studio before the next class begins.”
Some gyms and fitness studios will discourage the use of changing rooms, asking people to arrive in their gym kit instead. At the high end spin studio Psycle, they’re employing extra housekeeping staff, and say the thorough cleaning will include “extra attention paid to touchable surfaces, weights, props and bikes.” Their spinning shoes will be disinfected and rotated after each use and no same pair will be used in back to back classes
Companies are considering other ways to make the gym accessible but Covid-secure. Says James: “There might be friend zones, where you could workout with people you live with, without needing to keep two metres apart.” For gym goers, there’s speculation that free weights may be off limits (many gym owners are still working out how people can use these safely).
There are some people who may have discovered a love of home workouts during lockdown – John Lewis has reported a 496 per cent increase in sales of gym equipment during this time. But for many people, getting back on that treadmill is what our body and mind need, and we could be about to embark on a new era of ‘social fitnessing’.