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The Top 8 Fitness Trends of 2021 – How the Pandemic Reshaped the Fitness Industry

The Top 8 Fitness Trends of 2021 – How the Pandemic Reshaped the Fitness Industry


11 minute read

Author: Jason Veen - AV Now Marketing

  

The first COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered, giving the term "Post-Pandemic" a sense of real truth rather than a distant fantasy. After nearly a year of fast-evolving fitness trends, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter. It is safe to assume that we are all more than ready to close the book on 2020 and start a new chapter in our lives, post-pandemic style. 

Over the last nine months, those of us who would have usually hit the gym regularly had to rethink our exercise routines and either join a new type of group class or make a shift towards an outdoor Bootcamp. This included signing up for a new virtual group fitness class, which is precisely what thousands of us did in 2020. 

Although the pandemic is to blame for the shift in fitness trends, we see that most of those who took on a new workout plan in 2020 plan on attending the same classes that they began to participate in during the pandemic. So, what was it that hooked everyone in to make permanent changes to their workouts? 

We will show exactly what the top digital fitness trends will look like in 2021, along with the top studio fitness trends, with a closer look at the trends that are showing signs that they are going to remain popular for at least the next five to ten years. Why is that? 

Many of us love our new online fitness coaches and look forward to an outdoor boot camp during the week. We want to keep the changes we have made because they improved what we were doing in 2019. This has shifted the current fitness trends significantly and has forced an entire industry to rethink how to retain members, obtain new ones, and meet the post-COVID consumer's needs to grow their business now and strategize for long-term growth. 

 

TOP 8 FITNESS TRENDS OF 2021  

Although the term “trend” by definition, does indicate that there is an expiration date associated with it, there are clear indications that some of the new trends have been adopted as permanent additions. Although none of the trends listed should look unfamiliar, their versatility to adapt to new regulations by taking a group class outdoor or online, has driven their popularity consistently up over the last 8 months.

*Source: Google Trends

The Trends That Are Here to Stay 

Boxing – Are there really that many people who suddenly love to box?  Yes! Lots!  Either indoor or outdoor, this niche activity has attracted new fans by the masses and is showing no signs of slowing down.  

Virtual Fitness – Has experienced a large increase in attendees in a short period of time. Gym owners and fitness instructors had to step up their game and invest in the equipment needed and offer live streaming classes to retain their members and hopefully capitalize on the new exposure and increase their memberships.  

Yoga – What could possibly be a better way to get a great workout and reduce the increased pandemic stress at the same time?  Yoga to the rescue!  From hot yoga to bikram, attendance has increased steadily each month with new yogi’s in search of inner peace, fitness, and stress reduction. 

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Stretch Class – Many of us now work from home, which has decreased the amount of physical activity we do on a day-to-day basis. This has revealed a group of first-time virtual fitness students who simply wanted the opportunity to break up their day with a low intensity workout suitable for beginners.  The verdict is in and the majority plan to continue their new discovery due to the noticeable health benefits that far exceeded their expectations. Many of them have already attended a live group class with many more making plans to attend when they feel safe to do so.  

Outdoor Boot Camp –No surprises here considering all the indoor options were cancelled for quite some time, so what did we do? we took it outside! With an increase of over 400% in 2020, new outdoor boot camp enthusiasts have had their eyes opened to what outdoor fitness truly is and they are loving it! Most have enjoyed the social distanced aspect of group fitness. With more room between you and others boot camp attendees, there is truly little chance of anyone invading your personal space. We do not blame them for liking this aspect and hope that we naturally give each other more space in the future. Always!  

As you can see, online was not the only winner this year. With many group classes taking place outdoor, a new love for connecting with nature while working out has caught on fast.

What is not to love about an outdoor workout? Many were hesitant to take it outside, but now that 2020 is winding down, it appears as though Mother Nature was a winner last year as well.

Most newbies likely would have never tried an outdoor group class had there not been a pandemic, and to top it off, a recent survey showed over 92% of new outdoor Bootcamp enthusiasts plan on continuing this while still heading back to the gym or studio in 2021.

 

The Value of Group Fitness Members and Fitness Newbies 

It is refreshing and uplifting to see that so many of us have gone outside of our comfort zone to start a brand-new workout routine or continue our usual practice with the necessary modifications.

As it turns out, activities like yoga and outdoor group classes are much more than just a trend.

They are lifestyle choices that have a significant, positive impact on our overall health, mood, and sense of wellbeing. 

It only took a pandemic to shift our mindset, so this could very well be something that we take as a silver lining from this experience.

The fact is, we took control of our happiness by improving our mental and physical health with results that are keeping us going back for more. 

A recent report predicts that we will see continued expansion of fitness clubs and studios over the next ten years, with group fitness classes driving the accelerated growth. 

Group fitness class members are noted as being the most valuable group that a fitness center can have. The reason is that group fitness members refer more new members than gym members and spend the most time in the studio. Group fitness classes will continue to be a determining factor for membership growth. The fitness clubs that show their ability to capitalize on this will see the rewards in 2021.

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Fitness newcomers have recently been taking the next step from attending a live streaming class to attending a live group class. This has been a massive win for the industry and is the main contributing factor to the sharp increase in the number of new club members. Moving forward, fitness newbies will remain essential to the long-term growth of the fitness industry. The challenge rests in the fitness clubs' hands and their ability to entice their members to start taking group classes.

The lunchtime crunch group workout has emerged as a crowd favorite, showing the highest increase in attendance during 11:30 am – 1:30 pm. Since the implementation of reduced gym capacity, new sign-up systems at fitness clubs have shown how popular the lunchtime slot has become. Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Vancouver, BC were the top cities in North America for lunch crunch attendance and were the first to adopt this trend.

Fitness Clubs - The New Hubs of Social Networking  

Although group fitness classes will not appeal to everyone, the rise in popularity has shown that they offer something lacking in 2020, and has been missed, social interaction with other people.   

When the masks finally come off, we will want to feel like we are part of a community. Fitness Clubs have had a solid reputation of being social hubs; however, recently, group classes have been pointed out as "digital escapes." It is in a group class where we can put down our phones, enjoy the experience shared by everyone in the class and connect with others personally.

Sadly, this is not nearly as normal as it used to be, so it is nice to see that group fitness is taking us back to our roots, like a time warp to the '90s when social interaction was all we knew.

Many Fitness Instructors are superb at creating a sense of community during their classes. Moving forward, the fitness instructor's quality will become much more important to keep members loyal, both online and in a live class. Recent shifts in consumer needs have forced fitness instructors to make a quick decision to take their class online or outdoor and become an expert in putting this all together. The instructors who have learned how to host a high-quality, virtual fitness class have stood out from the competition. They are posting the highest increase of new attendees by showing the versatility to host online and in the studio. Doing both has become increasingly important as the popularity of recent online fitness superstars has attracted new members worldwide, and they continue to increase their market share.

With that said, we can expect that some fitness clubs will take the opportunity to capitalize on virtual fitness and offer an entire line of live-streaming fitness classes as a part of their memberships.  

 

The Elevated Experience – A Consumer Requirement  

The best way to attract new members and retain them is by offering an elevated experience that sets that group class apart from the competition. High-quality Fitness Sounds Systems and Virtual Mixers are designed for fitness clubs to provide their members with a motivating, high-energy, and memorable experience from attending a live class or virtual class. Noticeable differences come when a sound system allows the fitness instructor to be heard with crystal clear precision, regardless of the music level, and be heard equally clear for all in attendance. A customized fitness sound system is an essential component to offering an elevated experience.

When the energy can be felt and heard from the instructor with clear vocal audio and exceptional music sound quality, the referrals from your members will be much higher.

Standard sound systems offer a standard experience, so it's only natural that providing an elevated experience goes hand in hand with the sound system's quality. This will attract new members and produce a solid ROI for those who invest in a custom sound system.

We can expect that forward-thinking studios will enhance and update their equipment to elevate the overall experience to attract new members and keep them as loyal customers. If you'd like to get a custom quote or an assessment of your current system fill out the Sound System Questionnaire.

 

Do Not Be Scared of Virtual Fitness, Welcome it with Open Arms  

Yes, I know, COVID was the catalyst that sped up the transition from attending live classes to attending live-streaming classes. Although accelerated, advances in technology and changes in consumer needs had already begun this transition, with no signs of turning back. Offering virtual fitness classes as well as the ability to provide fitness-on-demand will soon be a minimum standard. Keep in mind that this is in addition to what is being offered in the studio. It will not take away from the business at the club level but increase new memberships from what we know. Virtual fitness has attracted thousands of new members, who in turn have been heading to the gym and signing up for group classes.

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The fitness clubs that can find a way to cohesively add a digital platform while still offering an elevated studio experience will walk away as the winners of 2021.

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