New report reveals how Covid-19 has transformed workouts

People across the world have exercised more and embraced new activities during a year of pandemic restrictions, according to a global report by the corporate wellbeing platform, Gympass. 

The report, ‘What a year of Covid-19 has taught us about stress and adaptability’, features data from nine countries around the world, including the UK, USA, Spain and Germany, on use of  thousands of fitness and wellbeing activities and apps available on the Gympass wellbeing platform.

Contrary to some UK reports about people doing less exercise, Gympass saw increases in physical activity for both those already active and those new to exercise. Work from home schedules and the dropoff of commutes led to the creation of a new pocket of time for people to fit in fitness, with a 43 per cent increase in booking at 10am. Top activities for first-timers varied across the globe with UK users choosing HIIT and Italians opting for Pilates. 

Seemingly overnight, the fitness industry was rocked by Covid-19, and exercisers and non-exercisers alike had some thinking to do. For committed exercisers, the question was “how will I continue moving my body?” Whilst for fitness beginners, the question was “how could adopting an exercise routine help me strengthen my body and immune system?” 

Gympass’ data showed that highly active users stayed as active as they had been prior to the pandemic, if not slightly more. Less active individuals saw a 20.8 per cent increase in their average weekly check-ins on Gympass after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The top activities for these first-timers included HIIT and yoga,  functional training and Pilates. 

“Whilst we shouldn’t underestimate the impact of this pandemic on people’s physical and mental health, this report outlines how for many people across the world, adapting their usual routines to keep activity and wellbeing centre stage has helped them through this unprecedented year. There’s no doubt that fitness comes with its share of health benefits, and the sudden focus on health as a whole solidified that message for groups of varying fitness experience,” said Luke Bullen, CEO UK & Ireland at Gympass.

With working from home becoming the norm for many, exercise sessions are no longer confined to early mornings or after the office closes. The report found that a mid-morning exercise session was popular as it provided a break for people who had been online for an hour or two, with bookings at 10am increasing by 43 per cent. At the opposite end, later evening workouts also increased, and the lack of social, sports and entertainment events led to a significant increase in weekend workouts, with a 111 per cent increase in Sunday workouts.

There wasn’t just an increase in physical activity. More than a third of people opted for mental health support when they checked in to the Gympass platform, and towards the end of last year there was a 115 per cent increase in people using the mindfulness app Calm - with men being the fastest-growing demographic. Calm also reported more parents with their kids at home using the app, underscoring the additional stress due to Covid-19 lockdowns.

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