With Covid-19 disrupting the sport and recreation landscape in Singapore, fitness studios have had to implement alternative business models to stay afloat.
Fitness and boxing studio Boom Singapore launched online workouts with free sessions on Instagram Live. Haus Athletics also capitalised on Instagram as a platform to post free 15-minute bodyweight workouts.
Both studios also offer paid virtual workouts on Zoom to turn things up a notch.
However, after being limited to home workouts and runs at the neighbourhood park during the circuit breaker period, fitness junkies were raring to break a sweat in their favourite studios instead.
Thankfully when Singapore entered its second phase of reopening, fitness studios were allowed to resume classes. Studios like the popular High Intensity Intermittent Training (HIIT) F45 reopened to much fanfare and excitement on social media.
That said, what is the new normal for fitness studios? Has the storm passed or do they face a whole new set of problems when adapting to the new changes?
Drawbacks Of The New Normal
The first and most straightforward adaptations that fitness studios have to make are adhering to the new rules and regulations put in place by Sport Singapore.
Rules that include keeping masks on at all times except when engaging in strenuous activities inevitably have some drawbacks on the activities of fitness studios.
The Sense Of Community
Each fitness studio has managed to build a unique community around their brand, which is essential in keeping members coming back.
In conversations with fitness class goers, many agreed that the accountability that comes with part of a community is what keeps them motivated while working out.
According to Jon Seow, a member at Ritual Gym, exercising in a group is “a key aspect” that pushes him during workouts, and exercising at home would result in him “slacking off” instead.
Due to the social distancing rules, interaction is surely limited, which might reduce the appeal of attending classes at fitness studios.
Individuals are currently expected to keep a 2-metre distance from one another and in the case of HIIT or group classes, not more than five individuals are allowed in each session.
Fitness studios have also cordoned off areas where people might congregate. Participants are also advised to bring a fully-filled water bottle to prevent inter-mingling at water coolers.
These developments have rendered it tougher to regain the sense of team spirit and community that was traditionally present in fitness studios and group classes.
Lusi Gao, a member of F45, feels that the sense of community has waned slightly during classes.
“A lot of what we used to have was groups of two to three people working out at the same station and cheering each other on, but now everyone is confined to their own ‘box’ and doing different workouts.”
That being said, fitness instructors and trainers have put in the extra effort to ensure that their members are adequately attended to, be it during physical lessons or online.
During the Circuit Breaker, The Garage continued to engage its members online by constantly checking in with them. The team also provided services such as bulk ordering weights for home workouts, such that members could continue with their regimes and “not feel the disruption”.
Reduced Capacity And Business Outlook
As per the guidelines by SportSG, each facility is capped at a maximum of 50 people. Thus, even if the demand for physical classes persist, studios, especially smaller ones, are unlikely to accommodate the demand.
According to Ruchdi Hajjar, the founder of The Ring Boxing Community, the number of students attending classes on-site fell by 30 per cent, mainly due to safe-distancing measures.
His sentiment was echoed by co-founder of The Garage, Yen Wong: “Sales has definitely been affected due to the class size limit. Unfortunately, our strategies are not able to push business back to where we used to be. It can only minimise the impact.”
Is Zoom The Future Of Fitness Studios?
Most studios now provide members with videos, and members may choose to attend virtual classes as compared to physical ones.
Evolve MMA’s vice president Wesley de Souza said that even though physical classes have resumed, the gym’s online offerings “will remain a big part” of its programmes.
Despite the online developments, Yen feels that online classes are just “a knee-jerk reaction” to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Garage conducted a survey with over a hundred individuals, and results showed that people still preferred going to the gym due to “the community and motivation”
“The future of fitness is about empowering people more effectively with the help of technology, but not within the constrains of the walls at home,” said Yen.
Featured Image Credits: The Garage via Facebook