Does the latest fitness technology signal the end for gyms?

TheBoldAge looks at whether gyms will survive this latest onslaught

Published by Steve Foreman on Jan 06, 2021

January is normally boom time for gyms. New year, new me and many other mantras flow from the mouths of the well intentioned, but this year is very different. We are still in the middle of the pandemic and a new national lockdown therefore gyms have been forced to close. As a result, many people have resorted to home workouts, online classes, or outdoor exercise. A lot of this is supported by the latest technology, it’s no longer about just counting those steps!

Due to a lack of holidays, commuting and general entertainment, people have managed to save money and treat themselves to more expensive tech. Peloton, with its interactive exercise bikes, is one such example. It’s annual revenue and user numbers up until June 2020, have doubled from the previous year. The convenience of being able to use this at home, and the safety of not interacting with other members and shared kit are just a few reasons for the growth in such offerings.

Online classes for all ages have also seen a huge rise in popularity for similar reasons. Joe Wicks delivered his PE lessons via YouTube throughout the first lockdown, they proved equally popular with adults as well as children.

The latest smart watches allow people to exercise outdoors or at home and track all the metrics and then some, that they would usually rely on gym equipment for. The all-conquering Apple Watch and other offerings from companies such as Garmin are becoming commonplace, and make the treadmill virtually redundant, as long as you don’t mind running in the rain!

However, all this tech does not necessarily mean the end for your local gym. Many people cannot afford home workout equipment or live in small homes with limited space or indeed in shared accommodation. The best home gym is unlikely to have the wide range of equipment that you find in most gyms, and that variation of kit can be the difference between sticking with your exercise plan or becoming bored and slowly doing less and less. In the darker month’s, gyms may be the only place where people can get a good workout in a safe environment. Whilst online classes try and generate that community feel, is that really the same as hitting a great session with your workout partner or catching up with friends at the gym? The social element of gyms mustn’t be forgotten, let alone the benefits to people’s mental health.

Whilst it is very unlikely that gyms will remain as they are, they will evolve to meet the needs of their members. The latest tech is great and can have tremendous benefits in helping people live a healthier lifestyle, but gyms also have a part to play, they will survive.