While we were stockpiling toilet paper, trying to source face masks, and learning what "shelter in place" meant, the fitness industry was shapeshifting. Gyms and fitness studios had to shutter their doors—but people still wanted to work out. This put the growth we were already seeing among digital and at-home fitness into overdrive.
"Disruption often begets innovation and I feel like we definitely saw this in fitness during the pandemic," says Jordan Galloway, a freelance editor and writer and a contributing editor at Well+Good. "There wasn't a single company, big or small, that didn't have their business model disrupted in some way by COVID in the last two years. And so what that has done is opened a space for a lot of creativity and innovation as people tried to figure out which direction they want to turn and what their communities need."
During the latest episode of The Well+Good Podcast, our general manager Kate Spies chats with Galloway, senior beauty editor and fitness reporter Zoë Weiner, and deputy editor of band initiatives Ali Finney chatted about what's to come in fitness next year as found in our reporting for our 2022 Wellness Trends package.
As lockdown hit New York in mid-March, trainers started teaching classes on Instagram Live and over Zoom, bringing fitness right into people's homes. "That really gave rise to a realization that working out at home can be great, and that you don't necessarily need to leave your living room to get a great sweat in as long as you’ve found something that works for you," says Weiner. As the first wave tapered off and in-person fitness started ramping back up, we saw a rise in hybrid, or omni-channel fitness, where brands began to offer both IRL and URL options to workout.
"We're at this really exciting moment for hybrid fitness, where all the technology that's been happening in homes is now going to start happening in the gyms as well," says Finney. "So something that's happening just now and is going to really accelerate in 2022." For example, gym chain Crunch partnered with cycling studio Swerve to allow its members to take digital Swerve classes at their gym and compete as a team against other Crunch gyms.
We're also seeing a huge evolution coming in fitness tech that marries at-home instruction with motion-tracking sensors and real-time feedback to ensure your form is correct and you're not likely to accidentally hurt yourself. While this tech started off in hefty (and expensive) pieces of equipment that you needed to have in your home, the next wave is utilizing laptop and phone cameras to make it more accessible.
"Onyx, for example, is a digital platform that uses your iPhone camera as a motion-tracking sensor. Tempo, actually just launched a more affordable version of its equipment that uses your cell phone instead of one big piece of equipment," says Weiner. "And there's another online platform called Kemtai that uses your computer or iPhone camera to make the same sort of tracking. And they are also rolling out tech hat helps use that data that's collecting to help you progress your workouts. "
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