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How the pandemic has changed the future of workouts

Fitness experts discuss the workout trends they're seeing as a result of the pandemic, and which they think will stick.
How the pandemic has changed the future of workouts
Do you love a bite-sized, 10-minute workouts? You're not alone.TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TMRW

The pandemic shook up our lifestyles in ways we could never have imagined beforehand. It's affected everything from how we interact with people (elbow bump, anyone?) to how we design our homes (more privacy, please!) to how we stay healthy (which often looks like virtual fitness classes).

“Prior to the pandemic, working out via an app or Zoom was a foreign concept,” personal trainer Brady Dougherty told TMRW. But now that people are going to the gym less, the fitness industry is adapting to a post-pandemic world. And it's changing the way we work out.

Below, fitness experts talk about how the pandemic has shaped the future of workouts:

1. Gyms will provide hybrid experiences

Fitness experts are seeing more gyms offer hybrid experiences (in-person and virtual) for their clients. Getty Images

“Virtual workouts are definitely here to stay,” said health and fitness coach Ariel Belgrave. “I actually think that the future of fitness will be a blend of in-person and virtual workouts.” She cites the fact that many people will still be working remotely and like the convenience of exercising from home, but previous gym-goers miss the social engagement and human interaction of in-person fitness classes.

“Many brick-and-mortar gyms are already finding that members have a preference for a hybrid experience of being able to attend classes in person and virtually,” she said.

The benefit of virtual classes is the convenience (for example, not having to drive across town to the gym, doing it between Zoom meetings or while your child is napping, etc.), and that it can be more versatile, Belgrave said. “The types of virtual classes you can do are endless. You can choose from a wide range of workouts of varying intensities, from HIIT and strength training to yoga and cycling sessions. With so many options available, you can frequently switch things up to keep your workout routine fresh.”

2. Workouts will be bite-sized

Whether it's because of working from home, childcare responsibilities or a busy schedule, people have been finding time to work out whenever they can, even if that’s just 10 minutes here and there.

“I’m a huge fan of short workouts. A mantra I live by is ‘a workout is better than no workout,'” Belgrave said. “It’s not about how long you exercise, it's about how hard you exercise.”

In fact, researchers found that a 10-minute workout with just one minute at high intensity had the same benefits as 45 minutes of steady cycling.

3. Home gyms will be even more popular

Because so many more people are enjoying the convenience of working out from home, the home gym is now more popular than ever. And while fancy and expensive equipment, like Peloton and Mirror, are beloved by many, Dougherty said she’s also been seeing people stock their home gyms with simple fitness accessories, like adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands and jump ropes.

“The pandemic shined light on how important it is to prioritize our health,” she said. “I think purchasing fitness equipment is another way to invest in our health just like we would go to an annual physical or get a massage.”

Many people like the convenience of working out at home, and equipment can help.Getty Images

4. Technology integration will be more popular than ever

Dougherty said she thinks technology-integrated fitness products are the future of the fitness industry. “By utilizing data from wearables such as Whoop and Apple Watch, fitness brands will be able to offer a truly unique and personalized experience for their clients.”

Belgrave agreed: “The trends in the past year have shown that in the future of fitness, we’ll see a rise of app-based workouts, streaming, and on-demand fitness with virtual trainers.” She added that the techie in her is excited about what’s to come next.