Work from Home is the new Black. From education to movies, from medicines to groceries, from internships to jobs, from interviews to competitions; everything is digitized.
While several gyms and dance studios had shut during the current pandemic, centers like CureFit succeeded in establishing their online presence.
IS IT SAFE TO GO TO GYMS NOW?
Literally speaking, United we fall, divided we Stand is the new mantra for the world at large, today. Moving from one’s home for work depends on the locality one lives in, the daily number of cases count. One needs to make an assessment based on their immunity or their risk of infections. Gymgoers above aged 55, should skip moving out of their homes unless an emergency.
Considering all prospects, if one is heading towards gyms or dance studios, experts suggest the following measures:
- Screening temperatures of staff and gymgoers;
- Cleaning equipment regularly;
- Essentials like masks and sanitizers are a must;
- Staying 6-12 feet away while exercising;
- Avoid gyms with little air ventilation.
Dr. Bruno-Martha, Infectious Disease Specialist in Cambridge, said, “Physical exercise is important for your physical and mental health but you still have to be smart. Wearing a mask is part of being smart, along with physical distancing, disinfecting equipment, and vigilant hand washing.”
However, some experts recommend skipping the gym entirely. Even after being careful, fitness centers pose a risk. Social distancing here becomes quite challenging. Even if gyms are satisfactorily ventilated, we know how far can this virus spread. If you want to exercise indoors then why not at home?
In a country like India, where the biggest one-day jump in COVID cases is around 50,000 working out at home and breaking a sweat is the best one can do. Exercising is beneficial both for physical and mental health. But with the number of coronavirus cases increasing, exercising along with other people can increase the chances of infection. Therefore, what is avoidable should be avoided.
GYMS, DANCE STUDIOS AT SIXES AND SEVENS
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, dance studios and gyms were among the first to close their doors. Gym owners thought that this was temporary and would help in managing the situation. However, it has now been more than four months. The industry is crumbling under the Covid-19 pressure. With no new enrolments and the old ones asking for refunds, the business has come to a standstill. Rent of the premises is piling up and there is no income. Smaller gyms are on the verge of shutting down and larger chains are contemplating huge losses. Thousands of trainers and support staff remain unemployed.
Pravesh Gaur, who owns the Fast Fit chain of gyms in Delhi and Faridabad, said, “We are looking at a loss of 20 to 30 percent of annual sales as in March. We have no other option but to send staff on unpaid leave.”
On June 8, the government announced a re-opening of public places like temples and mosques. Unfortunately, or fortunately, fitness centers were not among them. Owners are still waiting for orders to resume operations. However, if centers open, there is no surety that members will return amid the ongoing pandemic; turning the situation more dire.
GOLD’S GYM FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION
As the pandemic wreaks havoc on the fitness biz, one of the world’s largest gym operator is filing for bankruptcy. With about 30 corporate-owned gyms finally closed, most of them are shuttered across the globe.
The gym’s chain’s debts around $1.6 billion. To facilitate the financial restructuring of the company, it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection which allows a company to continue to operate as it works out a plan to stay in business. It helps in getting relief from creditors. Despite closures, they have 700 stores. The company is hoping to re-emerge from these proceedings on August 1.
In an official press release issued by the company, President and CEO Adam Zeitsiff said, “The brand is strong, and we’ll continue to innovate and grow our digital business, our licensing program, and our global footprint as we focus on serving our millions of members across the world.”
However, this bankruptcy in the US will not impact its business in India. Being a master franchise, its business remains separate from the global chain.
WAY FOR INNOVATION AND GROWTH
The cascading effects of the pandemic continue. When are we getting back to normal, nobody knows. The ongoing crisis has given away to fitness industries for bringing innovation, to pull the strings on digital opportunities. Gyms and dance studios are all shut presently.
To prevent businesses from running completely dry, many of them have started to provide online training sessions via Zoom, Google Meet, etc., both with and without equipment. Many health and fitness applications have come up, some of which are completely free. To preserve both strength and sanity, people are moving to home work-outs.
In the initial months of the lockdown, Indian fitness, and well-being start-up, CureFit offered free sessions via its online application, with trainers doing their best to instruct in as much detail as possible. It also benefits with the “energy meter” which keeps a track of movements while exercising. Noting the increase in the number of users, they have now introduced various premium plans. Members can choose a suitable package and pay accordingly.
Mumbai’s JG’S Fitness Centre has started online fitness consultations and training sessions to live in the current situation. The pandemic has made the people health-conscious, mental stress is a toll on many; therefore, they are not stepping back from training themselves. This has also given way to Zumba instructors and Yoga trainers to start online classes and make sure that the consumers stay healthy inside their homes.
According to a recent report by Facebook India and Boston Consulting Group, digital influence in urban consumers has increased by up to 70% for categories such as mobile phones, apparel, and consumer packaged goods. This trend is expected to stay post-pandemic as well, added the report.
Ira Trivedi, the founder of Namami Yoga, says that business is growing at 200 percent with two or three students joining every single day.
Gold’s Gym, which had filed for bankruptcy, has developed a library of free workout ideas. This fitness brand is using the hashtag #StrongerTogether, encouraging viewers to share their home workouts with others.
The fitness company Beachbody has experienced approximately 1.5 million subscribers after shifting to online classes.
One can say that the situation is like that of demonetization where people are using digital means to make their work possible which they used to ignore earlier, and surprisingly instead of queues near ATMs and banks we have queued for online video classes. However, the situation is more alarming for small players as they don’t have the budget to move to pixels.
A BOOST IN-HOME FITNESS ACCESSORIES
Although the pandemic has taken a toll on the fitness industry, online exercise equipment suppliers like Amazon and Flipkart have seen a surge in online sales of fitness equipment. Amazon noted a 5 times increase in products including gym sets, yoga mats, fitness bands, and rowing machines as compared to the pre-lockdown period.
Since non-essential retailed stores have opened from May, marketplaces have seen a growth in the sale of home gym kits. Items like dumbbells and resistance bands are being sold like hotcakes. This market shift is an indicator of the loyalty of the fitness industry. The rise in health concerns will play a major role in the recovery of gyms when doors open.
Brands trying to manage the needs of the consumers even during a crisis have better opportunities for building powerful client relations.
The fitness industry is relying on social media like never before. The fitness industry thus takes a hit amid the coronavirus. Ultimately the creativity and adaptability displayed by brands have given us hope that the fitness industry will manage to bounce back after the wind-down of the coronavirus.