COVID-19 may have taken second place to the economy on the American public’s concern list, but the profound impact of the last two years has intrinsically altered the way the fitness Industry does business.
Because club members were limited in their access to the facility by the pandemic and by local health mandates, most of the clubs I know of started using ZOOM and other online streaming services to present individual personal training, classes, lectures, and other programs that used to be done in-house. Fitness clubs were forced into online presentations to survive.
And because of the pandemic and its implications concerning the well being of the typical American citizen, fitness buffs took a giant step forward in another area: wellness. Clubs that are not now offering some form of wellness regimen such as supplements, massage, and exercise such as Pilates that emphasizes proper postural alignment, core strength and muscle balance, are missing the boat. Gone are the days of no pain-no gain. Instead, because the overall life focus has shifted to preventing serious illness, club members are concentrating more and more on every aspect of their health.
Here’s the other half of where I’m going with this discussion. During the pandemic many people also could not access their usual health-care services, including therapists, chronic disease specialists, and OB/GYNs. But with limitations came innovations and the limitations of COVID led to the rise of a heretofore-unknown service: Tele-Health. Tele-Health allows individuals to remotely access rehabilitation within their home environment, under the supervision of a highly qualified professional. Through Tele-Health, individuals receive education and advice on activity and lifestyle modification in order to treat and prevent a large variety of conditions, injuries, and illness.
Since the beginning of 2021, the use of Tele-Health services has grown exponentially, and this new virtual-first approach will lead to care that is centered on the patient, not a health system. And the interesting thing is that many fitness facilities are now combining Tele-health with Tele-Fitness. At these facilities health and fitness experts provide ongoing support and wellness education, individualized goal setting, customized wellness plans and exercise prescriptions, as well as individual and group training options. And many of these services are provided online.
Where I’m seeing the beginnings of this new manifestation of the fitness industry is in big hospital complexes that started providing fitness centers several years ago as part of their service offerings. Many of these medical facilities are now calling themselves Wellness Centers instead of hospitals and are adding many more services that look to solve medical problems before they start, rather than just treating symptoms of ongoing disease.