Why the Pandemic Has Been Good for Fitness in America

Today we are talking about a story in TIME, titled “The Pandemic Is Turning Americans Against the Gym. That Could Be a Good Thing for the Nation’s Health.”

What? Yes. At the very core of it, many of us are learning how to be healthy within our own four walls. A study commissioned by LIFEAID found that a quarter of Americans never plan to return to their old gyms. A survey in June run by Healthline found that the same number of people don’t miss working out in a gym or studio. It’s a good indicator that, among sentiments about the safety of any short term return to old fitness habits, Americans are finding another path.

TIME spoke to a number of fitness instructors and researchers and heard only variations on the same core opinion: that people will miss human contact and return for the sake of having access to a greater variety of equipment.

But what this pandemic has done, for the greater majority of Americans not previously members of gyms, is make fitness more accessible. Digital workouts are everywhere. Exercise equipment is being scooped up faster than it can be produced and stocked. Running trails are being beaten down by countless additional footsteps. Among these trends are a new kind of fitness fanatic: those who never went to the gym in the first place. 

I’m going to take the easy way out and read this quote directly from the article, because I don’t know if I can phrase it any better. TIME writes:

“The ingrained idea that people need to go to the gym to get fit is part of the problem. There are countless reasons for someone to dislike gyms. Maybe they can’t afford membership dues, or their local facility doesn’t offer child care, or they don’t have time to drive back and forth, or they feel self-conscious exercising in front of people, or it freaks them out to see a bunch of humans running around like hamsters on wheels. If they’re a person of color, non-binary, older or bigger, they may feel unwelcome in environments often overwhelmingly inhabited by young-ish, fit, white, cisgendered people. The list goes on.”

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By Ben Garves

Ben Garves is a digital product expert, author, entertainer, and activist. His portfolio of thought leadership in digital marketing and web experiences has included major clients like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, eBay, and Facebook. He’s also a freelance health and fitness journalist with over 400 stories written since 2018, a podcaster with 200 episodes to his name, and runs a YouTube channel with over 100 fitness and activism-oriented videos and live streams. Ben has founded the Fitness is for Everyone™ initiative to raise awareness about social injustice in both racial inequality and socioeconomic disparity in access to quality fitness and nutrition options around the globe.

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