The Les Mills 2021 Global Fitness Report spotlights how the world will work out post-pandemic, with live workouts and “omni-channel fitness” tipped to prevail.

Key findings:

  • Gyms worldwide making strong recoveries, with class attendances at 120 per cent of pre-COVID levels in markets where restrictions have lifted.
  • Two-thirds of gym members prefer working out with others as opposed to alone, with live fitness classes cited as the most popular offering at the gym.
  • Live classes at the gym are more than twice as appealing as live-stream options at home, with live Instructors and “the energy of the group” both key factors.
  • But COVID-19 legacy will live on, with 80 per cent of gym members planning to continue using digital workouts post-pandemic, in addition to live workouts.
  • ‘Omni-channel fitness’ – a blend of in-gym and home workouts – to prevail, with the majority of exercisers favouring a 60:40 split between the two.

Gyms around the world are set for a roaring recovery as they emerge from the pandemic, with fitness fans eager to get back to live workouts with friends. That’s according to a major new report that charts a global ‘live revival’, with fitness fans flocking to facilities for greater motivation and social connection after months of solitary home workouts.

The Les Mills 2021 Global Fitness Report – which features insights from 12,157 consumers across five continents – explores how the pandemic has changed fitness habits, and spotlights the trends that will shape workouts in years to come.

Despite fears the COVID-inspired home fitness boom would spell the end for fitness facilities, research suggests the majority of members are rushing back to their club, as soon as they can. The report finds gyms worldwide are making strong recoveries since reopening, with class occupancy at 120 per cent of pre-COVID levels in markets where capacity restrictions have lifted.

After a year of enforced home workouts, appetite for live fitness experiences in groups is set to soar, with 85 per cent of gymgoers interested in trying live classes in their facility. Two-thirds of gym members (67 per cent) say they prefer working out in groups, while live classes in clubs are nearly twice as popular as online classes that are live-streamed (done by 44 per cent of members versus 23 per cent).

Rockstar Instructors are identified as the single most important factor for gymgoers when choosing a live class, favoured by 28 per cent, ahead of the quality of music (24 per cent) and type of class (21 per cent). Quality Instructors are cited as a key component of the live revival, meeting strong consumer demand for added motivation and deeper connection in their workouts.

Les Mills Founder and Executive Director, Phillip Mills says, “After months of being stuck at home, people can’t wait to get back to fitness facilities and enjoy their favourite workouts with familiar faces. Much like bars, restaurants and sports events, fitness is experiencing a real ‘live revival’, as people make up for lost time with a renewed appreciation for real-world social settings.”

He adds, “Many people have missed the thrill of a busy class and the extra motivation you get from working out with others while being led by a rockstar Instructor. But that doesn’t mean home workouts will disappear as we emerge from the pandemic. The digital fitness boom and the growth of at-home workouts mean consumers are taking an omni-channel approach to their training, to stay more active by mixing thrilling live workouts at the gym, with the convenience of digital workouts at home.”

The impact of the pandemic on the fitness landscape is evident throughout the report. The digital fitness boom looks set to last, with 80 per cent of gym members planning to continue using digital workouts post-pandemic.

‘Omni-channel Fitness’ – a blend of in-gym and digital home workouts – is tipped to gain traction as we emerge from the pandemic, with the majority of exercisers (59 per cent) favouring a 60:40 split between gym and home workouts.

Lockdown has also spawned a new generation of fitness fans who have taken tentative steps into fitness and are now deciding what comes next, with 27 per cent of regular exercisers describing themselves as ‘absolute beginners’.

The report finds that 82 per cent of consumers now regularly exercise (or soon plan to), while 75 per cent of this group do gym-type activities, making fitness the world’s biggest sport. HIIT is crowned as the world’s most popular fitness class, favoured by 32 per cent of participants, closely followed by indoor cycling (30 per cent) and dance classes (29 per cent).

To access the full report, visit www.lesmills.com.au/2021-global-fitness-report