How will people exercise in 2021 amid the coronavirus pandemic?

Whether you're a gym-goer, personal trainer or an avid runner, routine keeps you going physically, mentally and also spiritually.

lifting weights at the gym  (photo credit: Courtesy)
lifting weights at the gym
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For those whose lives revolve around the gym, at least in some manner, routine is sacred. Whether you’re a gym-goer, personal trainer or an avid runner, routine keeps you going physically, mentally and also spiritually.
But how do you still keep a routine amid a pandemic?
The answer is creativity and flexibility, as it has been for many Israelis. Instead of relying on the countless options of the gym, many were forced to adapt their workouts to an outdoor venue, incorporating calisthenics and cardio to achieve results at least resembling that of a gym routine.
“Lately, I have been exercising at home with limited equipment,” Aliza Gold of Jerusalem told The Jerusalem Post. “I just have a pull-up bar and a yoga mat, and I use my desk and chair for certain exercises. I have been doing more HIIT-style [high-intensity interval training] and body-weight calisthenics training since I don’t have weights at home.”
It’s also not just a quick fix. To switch from a gym to a home workout, there is a lot of trial and error, a definite learning curve and the incessant resistance to lifting yourself off of the couch and onto the floor or into the street to do the workouts.
“It has made it a lot more difficult,” said Yonatan Beeri of Ra’anana. “I have had to become very creative. I’ve had to learn a bunch of new exercises that I didn’t even know existed. Although once I got it down, I still prefer the gym.”
While all of us gym-goers miss the gym in some capacity, according to a recent survey of 1,990 gym members performed by RunRepeat, only 15.8% of current gym members believe a gym is the best way to train and reach their fitness goals in 2021, representing an almost two-thirds drop (63%) compared with the start of 2020.
According to the report, close to three-quarters (71.78%) of gym members said running, outdoor exercises and home workouts are the best way to obtain the fitness goals they have set for themselves in 2021.
But it’s also not like there is much choice. In a separate poll of 6,812 gym members, RunRepeat found that nearly a quarter of gyms (24%) remain closed or out of business as a direct effect of coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns.
A similar sentiment stands in Israel. Currently, Health Ministry restrictions have forbidden gyms from opening, forcing the hand of millions of Israelis to find other options to stay fit.
As those in the tourism industry have suffered in Israel, so have gyms and personal trainers, who have been forced to put their businesses on hold.
In a survey of 10,824 gym members, almost half (47%) don’t plan to return in 2021. More than a third (36%) have canceled their memberships indefinitely, while 31% of the sample returned.
Trainers have been carrying the weight of the pandemic and have reported severe drops in clientele, assuming they have an option to train.
Shir Elmakayes of Givatayim said her clients were hard-hit by the coronavirus crisis. She earned a certificate teaching yoga in Israel and began training clients a few months before the pandemic began, while attending her college courses.
It has “been much harder to find new students, and studios being closed means I’ve had to try teaching only in parks and on Zoom, with no way to expand my client base or add income on the side,” Elmakayes said.
According to numerous surveys, attitudes toward gym use have fluctuated almost just as much as respondents’ probable changes in workout routines over the past year, which comes with the uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus crisis.