Research suggests the fitness industry will look different even after the pandemic, with more people cancelling their gym memberships and turning to at-home workouts instead.
According to a survey conducted by Harrison Co., a consumer-focused investment bank, 34 percent of gym-goers have canceled or plan to cancel their gym memberships due to COVID-19, and 40 percent of respondents reported exercising at home for the first time as a result of the pandemic.
Don Yakstis, a product knowledge specialist at RunWell in Edwardsville, a running and walking specialty store, said the store’s amount of customers has exploded since the start of the pandemic.
“[There] is no question about it. We are now seeing people from different walks of life, so our elderly population is growing, our population of people who were normally sentient [is] growing,” Yakstis said. “Our clientele is not just runners, it is now people who are seeking pain relief. We have orthopedists, we have podiatrists, physical therapists that all send their patients to us to get fitted for shoes, to help them improve their quality of life.”
One explanation for this effect is that many people now have the opportunity to spend more time outside, Yakstis said.
“The outdoors is a great thing, and a lot of people, the daily bustle kind of secluded them from that. It pulled them out of that world, and now they’ve rediscovered that, ‘oh hey, fresh air is good and sunshine feels good.’ And they’re just sticking with it now,” Yakstis said.
According to Yakstis, even though the weather is turning colder, the store’s clientele still shows interest in outdoor physical activities.
“There’s always a little bit of a decrease. This year we’re seeing a little bit less, so our clientele, even in the waning months, are starting to still go out and play,” Yakstis said.
Yakstis said those looking to continue running during colder months should follow what is called the 20 degree measurement to dress properly.
“If you’re running, we call it ‘the 20 degree measurement.’ Basically, whatever the outside air temperature is … you add 20 degrees to that, and that is how you should dress. So if it’s 50 degrees outside, you dress like it’s 70. If it’s 30, you dress like it’s 50, and so on and so forth,” Yakstis said. “For walking, we usually do about a five to 10 degree difference. Kind of the same thing, but a little bit different. It all depends on the people, and with that is always the caveat that certain people will experience this differently.”
Alex Garcia, a sophomore mechatronics and robotics engineering major from Breese, Illinois, began lifting weights during the first lockdown last spring. Garcia said although building muscle mass at home may be difficult without using more than body weight, people can use household objects or buy equipment to exercise effectively.
“I ran out of weights at home so I filled up milk cartons with sand, but originally what I did was, right when quarantine started, I went to Walmart and bought some free weights, like a medicine ball, some dumbbells, and worked out with those. But having anything you can work with weight-wise helps a lot,” Garcia said.
Garcia said in addition to following at-home workout programs, beginners can exercise safely by starting slowly and then increasing the intensity of the workout.
“I’d start out slow. Just get used to the movements … Getting the form down is what you need to do first, and then after that then you can increase the weight or go faster … I definitely would get used to all the exercises first before I started doing them fast, back to back to back,” Garcia said.
Tessa Schwarzentraub, a sophomore business and German major from Metamora, Illinois, is a trained yoga instructor, and has led yoga classes at the Campus Recreation Center. Schwarzentraub said although in the past her in-person classes have had higher attendance than her online classes, those who do not feel safe going to a gym may be more likely to search for at-home yoga options.
“You can always search online … and there’s subscriptions. It’s kind of like Netflix, almost, but it would be for yoga and there’s just tons of different options. You do have to pay for that, but the free version, I would recommend YouTube or looking into the Rec’s options,” Schwarzentraub said.
Schwarzentraub said although she sometimes struggles to stay motivated, remembering that she will feel better after exercising helps her to push through.
“I think maybe just recognizing, like if you’re super stressed, then convincing yourself that you’ll feel better after always works for me,” Schwarzentraub said.
Visit Runwell’s website to learn more about their services.