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What does the future of fitness look like in the next normal?

The world has changed dramatically in just a few months, going from crowded bars and tourist spots to an almost world-wide lockdown. While we are still learning about the virus which caused this pandemic, we can clearly see the major impact it has had on our daily lives and the economy.

In the fitness world, gyms are closed and people are actively looking for alternatives; trying everything from Instagram Live and YouTube workouts, to one-on-one Zoom coaching sessions, to using the great outdoors for walking, running, and biking.
It’s a brave new world for an industry that’s more tied than most to bricks-and-mortar experiences. A few months in and one thing is clear: online workouts are here to stay. This means that many commercial gyms will need to alter their strategies once restrictions are lifted. The trainers who once worked at these gyms have made their own way and have followers online; gyms may need to compete with them in the future if they don’t work with them now.

As economies recover, customer behavior will have changed forever and the post-pandemic era will be a vastly different reality.

So, what does the fitness world need to focus on in order to prepare for the Next Normal? Thoughtworks conducted both qualitative and quantitative research across the United States to learn how people's fitness routines have changed and how they see them evolving. We take a look at what this means for gyms now and in the future. 

Our research spanned the U.S. and our findings include the role of mental health and community, and the value of new habits and trainers. They also gave insight into when people will return to the gym (spoiler alert: A third of respondents don't plan on returning to a gym until there’s a vaccine, but half that number would go back now). We also provide recommendations on how to adapt, survive and thrive in this new world moving forward.

Part of this blog post is taken from the Foreword of "The Future of Fitness: Insights from across the U.S.". To learn more, download the white paper here.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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