This article is brought to you by Glenn Earlam (CEO, David Lloyd Clubs)

It’s been a year since the Covid pandemic took hold, and a natural time to pause and reflect. None of us could have foreseen the impact on our sector, and we have had to adapt and change at a pace never seen before. Despite the huge challenges, the health and fitness industry has proved itself to be highly innovative and largely resilient.

One of our key learnings from the pandemic has been the importance of our people. We recognise that without our community, we do not have a business. We have put our team and members first, looking after them to the best of our ability. Keeping them engaged and feeling supported will stand us in good stead as we recover.

At David Lloyd Clubs we have kept our members motivated by creating virtual clubs. Our @Home platform has grown to feature over 600 videos including fitness classes and challenges, wellness advice, kids’ activities and social events such as coffee mornings and quizzes. In addition, we have created virtual Run Clubs, a Daily Mile club for families, plus regular news bulletins, blog content, and briefings for team members.

It has been extraordinarily tough, but there are many reasons to be optimistic about the future.  I firmly believe we will see a boom in the industry in the next few years.  If there is one thing this pandemic has taught everyone, it is to value their health. There has undoubtably been a shift in attitudes as people look to embrace a healthier way of life and are prepared to invest in their wellbeing. Whilst the demand for online products has grown, it is just one element of a rapidly growing market and many fitness businesses can benefit from the opportunities presented if they are agile and innovative.

Gyms and health clubs will continue to be in demand because they provide so much more than a workout. Apart from expert advice and support, they offer a friendly community. Our houses have become our home, office, gym, school and relaxation space and its clear our mental health has suffered as a result. People are placing far more value on human connection and want to be able exercise in a positive and safe environment away from home. 

Virtual workouts will remain, but many people will see them as complementary to their gym experience, rather than a replacement. Last year when our clubs reopened for a few months, we saw how our members combined the app with the in-club experience, resulting in an incredibly enriching offer.

We are not out of the woods yet, but for those businesses in our sector who are able to survive this crisis, there are much better times ahead.

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Mar 30, 2021 By Carlos Fernandez