September 20, 2020

happy-House

The home veterans

Video workouts get a second wind thanks to COVID

5 min read
The pandemic has lent an air of authenticity to home video workouts. Once the domain...

The pandemic has lent an air of authenticity to home video workouts.

Once the domain of Richard Simmons bouncing around in garish outfits, video exercise has been taken over by serious fitness buffs who are streaming hard-core workouts.

“When we started this 20 years ago, home fitness was for people who were not fitness people,” said Carl Daikeler, CEO of Beachbody. “Now we’re attracting fitness people.”

The California-based Beachbody is best known among infomercial fans for the boot-camp-inspired video training routine “P90X.” That’s still available, along with various other intense exercise regimens with kick-butt names like “Body Beast,” “Insanity” and “Hard Corps.”

“People don’t want to pull the same video Mom used off the bookshelf,” he said.

While the market has grown steadily over the years, the pandemic has caused interest in home workouts to skyrocket. “We’re adding 5,000 to 10,000 people [as subscribers] a day,” he said, adding that his company (beachbodyondemand.com) is not the only one catering to exercisers who are stranded at home. “Gyms have come out with their own products.”

The pandemic changed attitudes about home exercise. When the health clubs closed in mid-March, fitness buffs who had tended to discount the validity of home regimens had no other option but to try them if they wanted to keep working out. They discovered that not only was it possible to work up a serious sweat in their living room, but they like doing it and expect to keep doing it.

A survey commissioned by Beachbody found that 86% of Americans who have exercised at home since the start of the pandemic said their workouts have been as good or better than they expected, including 46% who said the workouts exceeded their expectations.

That’s likely to reshape the fitness industry, Daikeler predicted. While most of the respondents said they either already have returned to health clubs or expect to eventually feel comfortable enough to do so, 87% of them expect to keep working out at home at least part of the time.

“As gyms navigate a path to reopen around the country, we expect to see a hybrid model where the traditional gym membership is a complement to more frequent at-home digital fitness,” Daikeler said in a statement that accompanied the release of the survey, which was conducted the last two weeks of July.

Men are significantly more likely to keep working out at home than women, with 59% of men saying they expect to do so, compared with 45% of women.

Asked what they liked about home workouts, 85% said there are convenience and accessibility benefits to working out at home that they can’t get from working out at the gym.

“Not everyone has the time to go to a gym,” Daikeler said. Home exercise “is so convenient. You roll out of bed, work out for 20 minutes and you’re prepared to get on with your day.”

He insists that exercise streaming services are not trying to put health clubs out of business. There’s plenty of opportunity for both programs to prosper.

“This is not a zero-sum game,” he said. “There are 200 million people in this country who are not going to set foot in a gym. We’re here for them.”

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