The day that Los Angeles County lifted its indoor mask mandate in March 2022, Courtney Niemann dusted off her gym bag, ready to get back to class. But many of her favorite studios—notably, YogaWorks—had closed. As the months wore on, though, she noticed that the studios that had weathered the pandemic were filled to the brim with exercisers like herself: people eager to get back to IRL fitness. “To me, it's a lot more motivating to be in a room where the teacher knows who you are, they're saying your name, they're encouraging you to keep going, you can go with your friends,” Niemann says. “I was excited to be back.”
With the closure of fitness studios and gyms in March 2020, and the subsequent rise of at-home workouts, many wondered whether in-person fitness—from the gym floor to the exercise bike to the yoga mat—might be gone for good.