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Is Digital Fitness Causing More People to Get Active?

by Matt Weik

If you think back several years, digital fitness wasn’t even in the conversation when discussing exercise and fitness. Sure, you had some apps that provided people with workout programs, but nothing like what we are witnessing today. With the advent of digital fitness, it has become a breakthrough moment where more people are getting active who were initially put off by “working out” because they didn’t feel comfortable going to a commercial gym or didn’t have the financial means to pay for a monthly gym membership.

We would be naïve in thinking that everyone is comfortable in a gym. There’s a lot of equipment, a ton of people, and those who walk around with physiques most could only dream of attaining one day. Introverts and those new to fitness may be somewhat self-conscious about the way they look. Some feel like at a gym, they would be “looked at differently” because they aren’t in shape – which those of us who go to gyms know is untrue, but to those individuals, it’s a genuine concern of theirs.

This can be the case for many women as research has shown that feeling self-conscious and not knowing how to use the gym equipment are some of the main reasons why women avoid the weight room altogether.

Therefore, digital fitness has become a real breakthrough moment for them. It allows them the ability to exercise in the privacy of their own home, at their pace and comfort level. There is no pressure of feeling like eyeballs are peering at them and judging them. It also allows those who may not have the money for a gym membership (for themselves or their whole family) the ability to invest in digital fitness that their entire household can utilize and get involved with.

More Women Are Engaging in Exercise Thanks to Digital Fitness

When the pandemic started closing businesses, avid exercisers were left scrambling to figure out how they’re going to get in their workouts. While there are plenty of things you can do at home with items around your house, some people couldn’t get over the fact that they no longer have access to all of the equipment they did when they could go to the gym. Then came the digital fitness movement.

It was reported that 45.2% more women engaged in fitness activities during the pandemic than they did the previous year before the pandemic hit. While women are still trailing men in terms of which gender exercises the most, women are slowly narrowing the gap.

If you were to look at barriers to entry, women tend to have a more difficult time committing to an exercise program. While there is still a wage gap between men and women, those women who are single moms find it even more challenging to fit exercise into their daily habits.

Through digital fitness, many women (and men) have found free apps and digital fitness programs they can use directly on their smartphones to get in a workout without needing any fancy equipment or gym memberships.

Sure, you can even throw in at-home fitness equipment that has gone digital. Look at Mirror, Tonal, iFit, Peloton, and many others. Their sales skyrocketed during the pandemic, and many of those individuals who purchased such home equipment mentioned they have no plans of returning to gyms.

Many women look at digital fitness as a “safe space” for them to exercise and engage with a community of women who may all share the same concerns and insecurities.

What Does the Future Look Like for Digital Fitness?

Digital fitness is here and here to stay. That said, it doesn’t mean everyone is going to utilize it as their primary means of exercise. While something like a Peloton bike is great for cardiovascular training and health, it doesn’t have the same effect as someone who also engages in some sort of resistance training.

While digital fitness equipment is taking up minimal room in homes these days, many people are still going back to their gym and paying their monthly gym memberships. The convenience, however, of being able to fit in a workout at home (at any point of the day) is still a major selling point for digital fitness.

Those who have the financial means to drop a few thousand dollars on at-home digital fitness equipment such as a Peloton or Mirror platform will do so – probably without giving it a second thought.

The pandemic caused many people to freak out and panic buy equipment that they now have no idea what to do with as it’s taking up a large portion of a room in their house, basement, or garage. Those who went in the direction of digital fitness are finding it easy to use and store their equipment as it takes up a minimal amount of space in their home. This alone is a huge selling point for those who can afford such a luxury.

That said, we are seeing people flood back to their gyms and get in their workouts to make up for lost time. Digital fitness may be the new kid on the block, but for many, it will simply never replace their gym membership and the vast amount of equipment you can have at your fingertips through joining a commercial gym.

Now, should the pandemic have a resurgence and things start locking down again, we may be shifting everything said above, but only time will tell. But for as long as commercial gyms are selling memberships, it will be difficult to see digital fitness (while having significant advantages) overtake the gym market.

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