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How Gym Owners Need to Prioritize Health Over Fitness Post-COVID-19

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The fitness industry has faced an unprecedented challenge in the midst of the global COVID-19 crisis. Having been forced to adapt and embrace the benefits of digital technology almost overnight in order to reach consumers at home and survive in the lockdown, questions are now arising about what the “new normal” will look like when gyms reopen.

It has been widely discussed that gyms will face changes when they reopen — questions of continued social distancing, increased hygiene protocols and the problematic sanitizing of equipment that is shared between all members remain topics of concern.

But perhaps the less explored discussion is how gym owners need to adapt to focus on health, not just fitness goals, when members return to the gym, and how they are set up to accommodate this shift in consumer behavior and demand.

Naturally, with a global pandemic comes a heightened attention to a person’s health. The digital fitness industry has boomed during the lockdown, but not just with regular gym-goers. COVID-19 has forced a whole new audience to look at themselves and address their health, especially since, according to the World Obesity Federation, “obesity-related conditions seem to worsen the effect of COVID-19; indeed, the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) reported that people with heart disease and diabetes are at higher risk of COVID-19 complications.”

In light of this, gym owners need to shift their perspective too. Should initial assessments at gyms be more health-related then just basic fitness? Do gyms have the equipment to perform reliable and accredited health tests on site? And how can gyms then support members to benchmark, track and improve performance accurately through data-driven training?

Gyms should now see themselves as responsible for looking at the overall health of an individual and how they can help them on their health and fitness journey. In order to target the more sedentary population — that is new to exercise during the lockdown — this will include a focus on activities of daily living (ADLs) and training people to be able to perform fundamental skills that are required to independently care for oneself.

The popularity of group exercise, driven by close communities, will suffer due to social distancing. So how can gyms ensure the programming for members on the gym floor is set up to keep them motivated and engaged in the absence of group exercise as we knew it?

Thankfully, gym equipment of this higher caliber is available — it’s just about gym owners placing a focus on providing this level of health-oriented training and programming in order to provide members with a more accurate, reliable test of health and performance.

Thomson Remo is a Wattbike Master Trainer and the business development lead for Wattbike in the U.S. For more information, call 800.WOODWAY x 167 or email thomsonr@woodway.com.

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