The last 12 months have brought so much change that it is a challenge to list how different our everyday lives are from that time last year. We work differently, shop differently and make different contacts. We also train differently.

How much have our training habits changed? The team at RunRepeat , a website run by data-driven fitness professionals, compared the results of surveys distributed to 4,538 active adults in early 2021 with similar surveys of 4,702 fitness enthusiasts a year earlier (previously) the pandemic ). The surveys were sent to runners and gym members in 122 countries and asked respondents how they wanted to stay fit over the coming year.

With gyms and indoor leisure centers around the world at least partially closed for the past year, it’s no surprise that more people have chosen to go exercising outdoors . Fifty-nine percent of active adults said running, outdoor conditioning, hiking, biking, and walking were the best ways to stay fit in 2021. This corresponds to a 14.6 percent increase in the number of outdoor athletes compared to the beginning of 2020. Nearly 50 percent of gym members were among those who said they would like to start running and other outdoor activities in 2021.

The other major movement trend in 2021 is Home workout With home fitness equipment usage up 49.6 percent year over year and online fitness class attendance and online fitness service subscription up 16.8 percent. Americans clearly outperformed British athletes in their commitment to home training. The number of people looking to invest in home exercise equipment has more than doubled in the past 12 months, compared to a modest 11.8 percent increase in the number of people living in the UK The number of active Americans who use online fitness content change, rose 134 percent.

While manufacturers and retailers of outdoor exercise clothing and home fitness equipment have benefited from a global change in fitness habits, Gym owner have seen their businesses suffer. Not all gyms faced the same public health regulations, but during the pandemic there was at least one consistent trend: gyms were among the first to close and the last to reopen.

“Before leaving the first ban in April, more than 10 percent of members had already canceled their (fitness) membership,” said RunRepeat employees. “Study after study showed more worrying signs as the year progressed.”

Most gyms around the world closed in spring 2020, opened to a smaller number of users in summer, and closed again in later fall and winter. The roller coaster pattern of opening and closing is likely why 60.5 percent fewer athletes are viewing gyms, health clubs, and group exercise classes as the best ways to stay fit in 2021.

“During the initial lockdown, nearly half of the gym members said they had no intention of returning to their gym,” the RunRepeat report read. “By September, it was found that less than a third of members had returned and that a fifth of gyms were still closed. It is estimated that 25 percent of gyms and health clubs could close by the end of 2020.”

With no gym access, 47.5 percent of former members turned to a personal trainer and / or nutritionist to help them achieve their goals.

The team sport was also a hit in terms of participation. 25 percent fewer active adults expected them in 2021 than in 2020. This trend was more pronounced in the UK than in the US. 30.8 percent fewer team sports enthusiasts said that they wanted to do sports in 2021. versus a 14 percent decrease in the US

Will the changed fitness habits stay here, or will sports enthusiasts return to the gym and team sports as the pandemic wanes and it is safe to train indoors and in groups?

Old habits die hard, so athletes who find motivation to exercise in the presence of others can’t wait to get back to their group classes or sports league. The same goes for anyone who can’t set up a decent home gym. It’s hard to replace the variety of cardio machines and heavy weights found in most fitness clubs.

Still, there is something to be said for the flexibility of home exercise that can be done anytime with a few minutes to spare. And for anyone who doubts the effectiveness of bodyweight training, one thing the pandemic taught us is that you don’t need fancy exercise equipment to get your heart pumping and your sweat flowing.

The other silver lining is that we were all forced to leave our comfort zone. Whether we’ve rediscovered nature or learned to motivate ourselves to do solo workouts, we’ve become more resilient. All of these newly acquired habits will enable us even better to prepare for other surprises that stand in our way in 2021.


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Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2021