Rewind to March 2020, talk of people falling dead in the streets from Covid, others donning protective clothing and masks, a mad dash for toilet paper and other essentials, and non-essential services shutting down their doors. Being stuck inside seemed like a real fear at the time; people around the world shared creative and fun ways to kill time at home, while everyone from board game makers to sanitization companies capitalized on the world’s collective fear and boredom.

People turned to running in their balconies and living rooms, others were quick to look for exercise equipment that would help them stay active. For some, a yoga mat and a few weights did the trick. But many rushed to get their hands on exercise equipment that would provide them with some semblance of their regular fitness routine.

In the early months of Covid, sales of Peloton, an interactive bike that lets users take part in live, online group rides with users around the world, skyrocketed. With production halted and shipments delayed, the manufacturer couldn’t get these bikes into the hands of enthusiastic riders fast enough.

Photo: Shutterstock

But amenities like the Peloton, YouTube fitness tutorials, online coaching and training subscriptions seem to have lost their luster now that most countries have put the virus behind them.

If market prices and production numbers are any indication, the novelty of home workout systems seems to be waning. Peloton’s stock price has dropped significantly as it fails to expand and move more units into homes.

Naturally, sales of his bikes will inevitably plateau at some point. The solitary experience of cycling at home, despite the presence of an instructor and an online community and a specialized playlist, has lost its appeal. The average number of workouts per user fell to 16.6 in Q1 2022 from a peak of 26 sessions per month in Q3 2021, according to the company’s Q1 2022 earnings report.

And it’s not just cycling training that has lost its charm; smart home gym Mirror, acquired by sportswear brand Lululemon for US$500 at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

On a call with investors in December 2021, Mirror CEO Calvin McDonald said that while the project was aimed at attracting the 10 million Lululemon customers embracing “the Sweatlife”, it’s been a tough year for fitness. digital.

The mirror is an interactive device that allows users to participate in guided fitness classes at home. Priced at $1,495, the device works with a $39 monthly subscription available in the US and Canada only.

Despite the setbacks some of these companies are experiencing, others are poised to continue engaging users with home experiences better suited to the post-Covid lifestyle. Ben Lucas, director of Flow Athletic and Flow Athletic TV, says the normalization of working from home during the pandemic has inspired more people to get fit at home; companies like Samsung and Salesforce offer the subscription to their staff.

The Flow Athletic TV platform launched during Covid and continues to see 2000 new signups per week. The flexibility offered by the service is one of the main reasons why its subscription base continues to grow. “You don’t need to stick to a particular time to train if the platform you’re using has an on-demand option,” he says. “You have no excuse not to train as most online platforms, including Flow Athletic TV, have a ton of duration options to fit any schedule.”

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Convenience aside, many users report a desire for real human interaction. Training with other people is more fun, but peer pressure can work in our favor.

Anyone who has been to a group class knows this to be true. Even the most laid-back will find their competitive side unleashed when they sweat alongside their friends. Camaraderie makes training more bearable and gives us more incentive to endure.

The 2020 study from the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance found that runners performed better when running in a group instead of running solo.

Viturvian founder Jon Gregory, whose company launched the Viturian Trainer+ connected home gym in 2020, understands this desire for community and has incorporated elements into the system that encourage competition. “Vitruvian has leaderboards and the ability for users to create and share workouts.”

Along with having a workout buddy, face-to-face interaction has the added benefit of an actual spotter and workout. The exchange in an online environment can be very one-way – it is up to the individual to understand and repeat exactly what they have been asked to do. Platforms like Flow Athletic are tackling this problem by making their instructors available beyond classes.

“Our members online are welcome to write to us and we are happy to provide other options if a certain exercise is not working for them, so they still have that support through Flow Athletic TV,” says Lucas.

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Still, variety is key, and there’s no reason fitness enthusiasts can’t have the best of both worlds. Both Lucas and Gregory see a segment of users looking for a hybrid experience. “The face-to-face interaction is great, especially after being locked up for so long. However, I think more customers seem to want to do a bit of both. Some want to come to the studio one to three days a week and then do the rest of their training at home. Others are still happy to stay home,” says Lucas.

Gregory believes smart gyms can even provide invaluable data to improve individual workouts. “If they have a PT, the added bonus is that your trainer can check the app and see what you’ve been doing on the days they’re not training with you, and they can adjust your schedule accordingly.”

And judging by online fitness platforms like Fitlab, the hybrid approach could be the way of the future – the US-based company has announced plans to create 500 fitness sites that will complement its individual workout programs in Classes. offer to home users.

Also see: What to know before hiring a personal trainer