COVID-19 has brought about lots of changes in the way we all work out, from the explosion of online classes and at home workouts, to the rise in outdoor exercise and wearable tech. 

Your members have embraced these changes, and they’ve no doubt impacted your gym, as figures show traditional, structured fitness has declined over the last two years. 

But that change means opportunity. We interviewed over 1,000 consumers who were a member or regularly attended a fitness facility before COVID to identify new opportunities for your gym to take advantage of as a result of those changing workout habits*. 

The Post-Pandemic Changes 

In our research, conducted on behalf of Xplor Gym’s parent company, Xplor Technologies, we quickly identified a shift away from traditional, structured exercise routines over the last two years. 

It’s a trend that’s consistent across gyms, leisure centres and sports clubs of all sizes, which is only natural given the regular lockdowns the world faced. 

As a result, outdoor exercise increased, with more members walking, running and swimming. Many turned their attention to home gym equipment, on-demand workouts and live online fitness classes. 

Some of these trends are likely to stick around, but others are already in decline – bringing new changes and new opportunities. 

So what will your members want in the future? 

On-Demand Workouts Are Here To Stay

Despite the lifting of restrictions and the surge in gym memberships, your online and on-demand workouts shouldn’t be dropped right away. 

Training on your own time, in your own home, is a big benefit to members, and 51% of the gym-goers we spoke to expect both in-person and online options to continue well into the future. 

Look at how you can add value to your gym memberships by including on-demand options as part of your offer. You could:

  • Partner with established online providers
  • Stream your in-person classes on your website 
  • Run virtual classes alongside your traditional class timetables

Hygiene Will Always Be A Top Priority

With COVID-19 front of mind and national lockdowns imposed to limit the spread of the virus, it’s unsurprising that hygiene concerns were one of the key reasons for the shift in workout habits. 

It’s also unsurprising that hygiene remains a top priority for gym-goers when choosing a new gym or deciding to return to their old memberships. 

78% see hygiene as a gym’s most important responsibility. 

And some members benefited from the restrictions imposed on gyms as it limited overcrowding and made training easier. Gym owners and members can learn from this. 

They can focus on improving the member experience by:

  • Implementing and maintaining enhanced cleaning procedures
  • Balancing capacity limits with streamlined booking and entry processes
  • Using the right software to support efficient operations centred around easy accessibility and top quality hygiene standards

Smarter Gyms – With Integrated Tech – Are A Must 

Another key trend we identified was the rise in spending on smart tracking devices and other wearable tech, and as a result, the increased use of watches and trackers in health and fitness regimes. 

Over a third of the gym-goers we spoke to had spent money on new ways to help them keep fit, with 50% buying fitness trackers or wearable devices. 

Naturally, those members want to use their new devices in your gym. They want to see better integrations of their devices with your equipment and would like more ways to track their fitness when they train. 

Now is the time to think about how you can improve your facilities to help members track their workout stats more effectively. 

The Variety Of Classes And Workouts Are Still Important 

But don’t spend all your time and effort on new, smart technology, because our report also found that some things haven’t changed. 

Some member expectations and demands remain as strong as ever. Like the variety of classes and workouts on offer. 

This is particularly important if you want to appeal to a younger generation, who look for the hottest workout trends and newest fitness classes. 

40% of members under 35 would like to see gyms collaborate more with influencers and famous people to deliver fitness programs. 

If your gym can forge the right partnerships, you’ll build a strong membership base from a large target audience. 

Habits Have Changed, Demand Remains Strong

Perhaps the biggest, and most important finding from our research into the change on workout habits is that there’s still a big demand for gyms. 

Members want to train in gyms, and that isn’t going to change any time soon. The % share of money spent on gym memberships is now back to pre-pandemic levels, and it’s growing. 

As long as your gym can support new habits and trends, you’ll meet your members’ demands and grow too. 

To do that, you’ll need the right software and the right approach. You’ll need to think like your members. 

*About the research – on behalf of Xplor, Untangld conducted an online survey of 1,065 respondents during December 2021. The sample for the study was nationally representative and defined as people who were members or regularly attended gyms, health clubs, studios, leisure centres or sports clubs pre-COVID.

Article by Xplor Gym

First published: 11 April 2022

Last updated: 09 February 2024