Online workouts and Zoom classes have become hugely popular. But with restrictions easing, gyms, fitness fans, personal trainers and owners are eager to get back to business as usual.
The fitness industry has had a tough year, trying to adapt to changing restrictions and keeping people motivated along the way.
Welcoming people back through the doors is a momentous day as gyms open from Monday April 26 for individual exercise. It will be a day of celebration for the owners of two Fife gyms.
Pamela Aitcheson, owner of the Little White Gym in Dalgety Bay, offers one to one personal training as part of her business. She is delighted to get back to the gym.
She says: “All my clients are itching to get back and I can’t wait to see them!
“I’m excited to welcome people back as it’s been a really challenging year.”
Keeping motivation going
One of the biggest challenges for Pamela has been motivating clients – and at times herself – during a year of changing restrictions for the fitness industry.
She said: “Keeping people motivated has been difficult and I, like everyone else, got to the stage in lockdown where even I couldn’t be bothered to work out!”
Adapting as the world changed
Pamela, who gained her personal training qualification at 56 years old, still had a relatively new business when the pandemic hit.
Like many in the industry across Tayside and Fife, she moved her business online to offer virtual classes and training.
She explains: “It took me a few weeks before I moved to an online model and got about a third of my clients onto that.
“When restrictions allowed and things opened up a wee bit, I was able to train with some clients in the park.
“I had to shut the doors again after Christmas and decided to offer online PT sessions and did half hour classes three times a week online.
“But it’s great to be able to open the doors again.”
“Take it easy, it’s not a race”
Pamela’s advice for anyone returning to the gym is to pace themselves.
She added: “What I would say to anyone returning to a gym is to remember their fitness levels will be different – take it easy, it’s not a race, build up gradually.
“And as we all return to a more normal life it’s important to plan what the week will look like for you and plan time for fitness.”
‘We’re a community, people missed the social side’
Susan Simpson, owner of Mind and Body Studio in Kirkcaldy, says she is “excited and nervous” about re-opening.
Her facility offers beauty services too which will be available from Monday April 26.
“It’s great to be able to open the beauty part of the studio, I’m delighted to get my team back in.
“We expect to be busy as everyone books in for their treatments, I think eyebrow waxings have been the most popular so far!”
Susan is also looking ahead to when she will be able to offer in-studio group exercise classes when restrictions ease further in May.
“We have a really strong gym community and for some people, online classes haven’t been for them.
“Many folk have really missed the social aspect of being able to do a group class.
“Clients who live alone or older clients who perhaps don’t have the technology have said they’re looking forward to coming back in.”
Blending online and in-person
But Susan is also adapting her business in light of the challenges of the last year.
“I want to have a more rounded offering for my members – so I’m looking into having a blend of online classes available, a library of sessions people can access and in-person once restrictions allow.
“People who are working from home and sitting at a desk all day might not have the time to get to the gym, but might want to do an online class in their lunch hour or after work to break up the day.”