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The New Normal: As Life in Australia Returns to Normal, Many are Hesitant to Go Back to the Gym

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Australia’s lockdowns have notoriously been increasing. While the move of the government to close down establishments and be stringent with border entry has been controversial, it did work in curbing the spread of COVID-19. By 2021, community transmission of the virus has pretty much been eliminated and life has gone back to normal. Recently, Tame Impala, a Grammy-winning artist, played two sold-out shows in his hometown of Perth, and no one in the crowd had to wear a mask.

But, in Australia, like in most parts of the world, the fitness industry is one of the most hard hit. In March 2020, gyms were among the first to be shut down alongside pubs and casinos in light of the then-burgeoning public health crisis.

Working Around COVID-19 Restrictions

The sudden loss of revenue and clients is devastating to all kinds of businesses. Many entrepreneurs felt that they were starting all over again. Gyms were no exceptions.

However, in order to stay afloat despite the restrictions, many people in the industry jumped into an emerging trend: online training.

In the past year, many fitness instructors and personal trainers have launched their own classes or coaching sessions on the internet via Zoom, FaceTime, or Instagram Live. It is a creative way to remain in business while maintaining a physical distance. Gyms are, after all, one of the riskiest places anyone could go right now. Because the space, usually indoors, involves people who are breathing heavily and sharing equipment, the risk of infection is high. At home, people can work out maskless without putting themselves in danger of catching COVID-19.

Not everyone can be a personal trainer during the pandemic. One has to have the right certification, such as the CECs for personal trainers before they conduct classes whether online or face-to-face with a client. There are certain dangers to working out that can lead to injuries. Being able to spot what the wrong form looks like, especially from a screen, is crucial.

Borderless Fitness

The new way to exercise was a hit. Before the pandemic, online training was only common among social media influencers on YouTube and Instagram. However, because of COVID-19, it became the new normal.

Moreover, it opened fitness to a wider audience. Because of online training, more people can get access to trainers. Those who cannot go to the gym for various reasons with or without the pandemic can still maintain their physical health with the help of a professional guiding them through the screen of their laptop or smartphone.

The Facebook- or Instagram-based fitness programs are even attracting clients from outside of Australia, reaching as far as Hong Kong and London.

COVID-19 Changing the Fitness Industry for Good

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The impact of the pandemic to the industry will likely be felt for a long, long time.

Many of the restrictions in Australia have been lifted now that the nation has, like its neighbor, stopped the spread of the virus within the community, but people have gotten used to life at home. In one survey from last year, one in four professionals said that they felt obligated to return to the office, but would like to only be there for a few days a week. The rest, they want to continue at home.

Similarly, a significant number of adults do not want to return to the gym even after lockdown. RunRepeat, a company that sells athletic shoes, surveyed gym-goers from around the world revealed that Australia has the highest number of people who have either canceled or were considering canceling their gym memberships.

The same study by RunRepeat found that women are more likely to never go back to the gym again. Over half of those surveyed (52%) said that they will continue to workout at home or outdoors. Meanwhile, 42% of men expressed that they will not return to the gym after the pandemic.

That said, online training will likely continue to exist and be popular in the coming years. And, in many ways, it is a good change. Since people shifted to online training last year, the frequency in which individuals worked out within a week increased. Being on the internet gave people more opportunities and, likely, motivation to sweat.

However, online training is not the end of gyms. Instructors can and still will conduct in-person coaching in the future, but with an added bonus of streaming to a larger audience.

The COVID-19 pandemic created challenges and obstacles for the public, but it has also encouraged everyone to become more creative in addressing individual needs. In the case of the fitness industry, people went online in order to continue operations despite lockdowns, and it will forever change how people exercise.

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