After COVID-19 lockdown, fitness fans reconsider returning to the gym

After COVID-19 lockdown, fitness fans reconsider returning to the gym

Like many Canadians, Erin Riediger cancelled her gym membership when the country went into lockdown in March.

For the first few days of quarantine, the Winnipeg-based architect tried crafting her own yoga routine, to no avail. Then she found Alo Moves, an online membership-based yoga platform available for $9 a month on an annual basis, allowing her to improve her yoga skills on her own time, in her own space.

“I didn’t think you could get any gains from working out at home,” Riediger says. “You can actually gain flexibility, gain strength without actually having to leave your home, which I didn’t think was possible.”

Riediger is one of many Canadians finding success in free or low-cost virtual home workout options during the lockdown. She says there were many times in her fitness journey that the $100 monthly yoga membership felt like a significant investment, one that required sacrifice in other areas of her life to maintain. Now that lockdown has taught her how effective and affordable working out from home can be, she’s rethinking continuing this investment once gyms reopen safely again.

“I always felt like if I didn’t have the membership I wasn’t going to get enough out of my workouts,” she says. “But because the streaming service works so well, and I do feel like I’m making gains in yoga and in other areas that I wasn’t practising at my home studio. I think that (going forward) I could do a blend.”

She’s currently exploring buying individual passes at a number of different fitness centres around Winnipeg while doing yoga at home for the $9 membership fee. In all, the cost of going this route would likely add up to less than her old yoga membership.

It would also offer an element of convenience that in-person workouts simply don’t. Riediger notes that attending a one-hour class at her yoga studio was at least a two-hour commitment, when factoring in time spent packing, commuting, and showering after the fact. Living room sessions, on the other hand, require little more than a few minutes of prep and cleanup. Many plans also offer flexibility in class length, so if you’re lacking an hour to devote to working out, you can throw on a 10- or 20-minute video instead.

The convenience factor is primarily why at-home fitness options like Peloton have become so popular over the last few years. The $2,950 workout bike — which comes with on-demand spin classes at varying lengths for $49 a month — has surged in popularity over the course of the pandemic, earning 1.1 million new Peloton Digital subscriptions between March 16 and April 30 alone. But even pre-lockdown, the bike was gaining traction within its key demographic: busy individuals who have disposable income, yet lack time to hit the gym.

“If I can get a great experience on my own time, in a convenient location at home, that’s where the world has gone,” says president William Lynch. “Peloton offers that.”

And as it turns out, working out in shorter bursts more frequently throughout the day may also be a healthier practice than hitting the gym for an intense, one-time workout after hours of sitting all day. That’s according to Geoff Girvitz, director of Bang Fitness, a small Toronto gym that offers individualized training for around $40 a session.

While Bang Fitness has remained closed over the duration of lockdown, Girvitz and his team of trainers have kept clients busy via remote workouts. They’ve also started offering free online drop-ins where trainers run public Zoom sessions for up to three hours, during which time patrons are free to come and go as they choose. The goal is to promote flexible “micro and mini workouts,” and Girvitz says he’s seen such success with it that the gym will likely keep this program around long after Bang Fitness is safely allowed to reopen.

“We have this incredible opportunity to get off a call and immediately bust out some push-ups or some kettlebell swings,” Girvitz says.

These remote workout rooms also attempt to recreate the sense of community that gyms offer — a common draw for many consumers. But for those who rely on the accountability of a gym’s social network, virtual workouts will never be enough. “People crave human connection,” Riediger says.

And for others, working out for free will never be effective. Even Riediger admits that her $100 membership fee was costly enough to keep her from bailing on classes last minute. She doesn’t feel the same guilt in quitting a virtual workout when the investment is the price of a few cups of coffee.

So, while working out from home may always be the cheapest option, it’s not necessarily the most effective. The most financially-sound workout plan is the one you stick to, and the lockdown hasn’t changed that.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2020.

Audrey Carleton, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. Previous versions misstated the number of new Peloton Digital subscriptions.

Fitness

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

robbery
UPDATE: Suspect identified in early morning shooting

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, receive flu shot. Photo via Government of Alberta
COVID-19: One more death in central zone

Ponoka County on province’s watchlist

Many rural municipalities were concerned about a proposed reduction to their industrial revenues, but Alberta’s Municipal Affairs minister has come up with an alternative solution. (Photo contributed)
Province and rural municipalities agree on a plan to support Alberta’s energy industry

Creating new wells or pipelines would result in a three year ‘tax holiday’

The influenza vaccine will be available at no cost starting Monday in Alberta. “The more that we can avoid influenza-related tests, emergency visits and hospitalizations, the stronger our system will be to support those with COVID-19 and all other health needs," says Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Hinshaw urges Albertans to get flu shot as COVID cases jump by 332

Alberta’s central zone now has 132 active COVID-19 cases

The Bellows family on vacation last year in Mexico. L-R: Angel, Ryan, Darrel, Grace and Michael. (Photo submitted)
Rimbey community rallying behind family after cancer diagnosis

Michael Bellows, 12, a ‘strong, resilient kid’ says father

Conservative member of Parliament Pierre Poilievre speaks during a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals say Tory effort to set up COVID-19 committee will be a confidence matter

The Tories were originally proposing an ‘anticorruption’ committee

Alberta Premier Jason Kenny and government house leader Jason Nixon chat before the speech from the throne delivered in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Alberta politicians are to return to the legislature Tuesday with a plan to discuss up to 20 new bills — many of which are focused on the province’s economic recovery. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta legislature to resume Tuesday; focus to be on economic recovery

Opposition house leader Heather Sweet said the NDP will focus on holding Premier Jason Kenney

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Executive Director of Agape Kate Halas (left) receives $1000 from Sgt. Eric Christensen (right) on behalf of Agape. Photo/ Shaela Dansereau.
Former Wetaskiwin Peace Officer wins provincial award; gives back to Wetaskiwin community

Eric Christensen has won the Alberta Association of Community Peace Officers Award of Excellence.

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen (Alberta government photo)
Big boost for Alberta college agriculture research

The $2-million agreement to benefit Lethbridge College’s applied research team

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Canadian couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

(The Canadian Perss)
Banff wolves have lower survival rate due to hunting, trapping outside park boundary

Researchers looked at 72 radio-collared wolves in the national park from 1987 to August 2019

Most Read