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Exercise Trends During COVID

For many of us, going to the gym to work out is more than just a way to stay in shape and be healthy. The gym is a place where people can go to escape reality and blow off some steam. For some, myself included, the gym is more therapeutic than anything. So, when it was announced that gyms would be indefinitely closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19, I was absolutely crushed. Frankly, I was concerned for my mental health. I had never been one for running or at-home workouts so, for me, losing the gym meant losing exercise as an outlet.

If there has been any bright spot during this pandemic, it has been the creative ways people have devised to get through it, like a resurgence in non-traditional forms of exercise. For those not quick enough to purchase the limited stock of home workout gear before they sold out online, water jugs and book-filled backpacks became substitute for dumbbells, while outdoor hiking trails were swapped for treadmills, and personal trainers came straight into living rooms via online spin classes and stationary bicycles. For me, it meant dusting off my running shoes and having my parents pack up and ship my bicycle from my teenage years.

It has been extremely encouraging to see how both people and businesses have reacted to the challenges created by this pandemic-and the trends that have come out of it. People are increasingly going outside to exercise, businesses and streaming outlets are making at-home fitness equipment and services more readily available. and even riding a bike as an adult is cool again!

According to NPD, I’m not alone. Cycling spending jumped 39% in March 2020 (the start of our time at home), and Health and Fitness Equipment soared a whopping 129%. Both categories would probably have been up even more if there weren’t out-of-stocks or other supply chain challenges. Even resale sites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace were completely picked over.

I can’t say for sure if these trends will continue as this virus (hopefully) makes its way to our rearview mirror. Consumers certainly have invested a lot of time, energy and dollars into adopting this type of behavior as a ‘new normal.’ Similar in the way the pandemic has opened our eyes to the feasibility of a remote/hybrid work model, this epidemic has opened consumers’ eyes to the effectiveness of working out in a non-gym environment and the joys of exercising outside.

I can speak to the effect these fitness trends have had on me: I have thoroughly enjoyed newfound relationships with outdoor running, bodyweight exercises and with riding my new (old) bike. I also plan on continuing to engage in these activities even after gyms reopen and life returns to some semblance of normalcy. Of course, as the weather here in the Northeast takes a colder turn, going outside to exercise will become more challenging. As winter turns to spring however, warmer weather will inevitably return and, in my opinion, so will these trends.

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