The more people who are vaccinated, the greater the chances that life will return to normal. But the number of new Covid 19 cases and the spread of its variants is also growing.

As a result, people are still cautious about who they see and where they are going when they wear a mask. Clearly, being outside is much safer than collecting inside. And that’s not good news for gyms. However, the path to fitness doesn’t necessarily require a gym.

The fact is, the pandemic has changed the way Americans stay fit. Two industry veterans share how the industry and modern technology have brought the fitness / trainer experience into the American living room.

The changing business

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit it rocked the fitness industry. Like so many companies, gyms were closed and even outdoor exercise groups frowned upon. Exercise, like everything else, came home ..

Home exercise isn’t new. Infomercials for products ranging from makeshift pull-up bars to multi-exercise fitness equipment to video classes have been played on television for decades. The age of the iPad, based on simple connectivity, has changed fitness. And then came the pandemic.

“Almost overnight everyone was looking for a solution that had nothing to do with the physical gym itself,” said Vincent Miceli, owner of The Body Blueprint gym in Westchester, New York and a new AI-powered accountability platform called Verb. “Everyone crawled [to find ways] Maintaining memberships and creating added value. Six months with no sales [has] put almost all of us out of business. ”

The answer: bring fitness training home.

Live training

The same video streaming technology used for office meetings and school can be used for live streaming exercise classes in living rooms. Nick Hounslow, personal trainer, co-founder and owner of the online fitness community 1WRKOUT, appreciated how the pandemic would bring his gym business to a standstill and shot his classes online. He realized that a lot of what coaches do in person can be done through video.

“Live coaches provide accountability and a call to action when they have paid money,” said Hounslow. “There are fewer innovations. You get motivation and investment. “

One thing they cannot reduce is the risk of injury from correcting a position or technique.

While Miceli isn’t a huge fan of live video courses, he sees the benefits. For starters, the customer doesn’t have to come to the gym.

“It eliminates the need to go out,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about babysitting anymore. It removes the feeling of inadequacy around a group of people. It removes any ego that you may or may not have. It enables people to work with intensity, weight, and comfort in their own safety. ”

Recorded Lessons

Perhaps the simplest form of home exercise is a recorded lesson. Regardless of whether they are printed in a book, a video tape from the past, a digital CD or an online streaming, entire lessons and training routines can be filed at the user’s home according to his or her schedule.

If those options don’t appeal, there are always YouTube playlists or an interactive app available.

With recorded videos, gyms can offer various exercises and training programs. Trainers do not need to be available to teach on demand and members can train when they want. Users can search from specific exercises and trainers can recommend workouts without worrying about schedules.

For Miceli, building a service is key to making videos work.

A new package

Verb AI, Miceli’s new platform, uses text messaging combined with digital video, artificial intelligence and real trainers. AI takes away some of the guesswork by sending automated messages to gather information.

After receiving it, the program analyzes the information sent back.

At this point a human enters the picture. A coach studies the information and makes recommendations. To create a holistic view of a client’s wellbeing, coaches use responses from an AI-generated survey to assess factors such as sleep, stress, food and hydration, and physical activity.

“It [Verb] positioned us in a really interesting place, ”said Miceli. “Most of the in-home world is in hardware or app games. We decided to start with this low-tech solution. “

If you rely on text messaging to communicate with customers and keep the complicated things behind the scenes, almost anyone can use Verb AI. By expanding beyond the wall of the gym, the fitness experience can last all day or even all week.

“Verb just becomes part of the day and keeps people busy through habit,” said Miceli. “Users will get used to thinking more about their decisions every day, even the traditional ‘day off’ at the gym.”

Verb had been developing when the pandemic hit. Within six months, the growth was explosive, going from 80 users and a single coach to 12,000 and 300 coaches. More than half of the users stayed long-term.

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Human connection is at the heart of the 21st century. Both men agree that the key to maintaining fitness at home is engaging and cultivating a sense of responsibility in their clients.

“[The program] As a user, you need five seconds to answer one of our questions, ”said Miceli. It can take a few minutes for the coach to divert the user’s attention, as the coach quickly received the “nuts and bolts”. In the past, the trainer would have needed an hour to two hours per day for the interaction. “It was just that simple from a usability standpoint.”

With 1WRKOUT, the entire class has a bond, similar to what happens in a gym or yoga studio.

“Groups in person and online create a sense of community,” said Hounslow. “It’s a very personal decision. Group training offers accountability, but is still affordable and allows you to be part of something bigger. ”

Being in a group doesn’t mean you won’t get personal attention. “You still get 1 on 1 attention during our class,” said Hounslow.

The internet is also opening up a bigger world – classes are not limited to people in the immediate area. “Talking to people in different places around the world is cool and helps make people feel more isolated,” said Hounslow.

Who is it for

Hounslow and Miceli said their customers are all of different ages.

“Nineteen to 35-year-olds are really drawn to it,” said Miceli. But “some of my long-standing customers are over 50 years old. Both men and women.”

Hounslow agreed, noting that 1WRKOUT has classes with people from multiple generations. Some “from the same family, and even better, families who couldn’t see each other because of Covid can make training appointments and attend classes together.”

And while it’s intended for humans, furry friends have also joined in on occasion. “It’s wonderful! Pets keep coming in too,” chuckled Hounslow. “It’s very funny!”

Ultimately, Miceli is less about demographics and more about goals that should be reassessed monthly. “Really, the user we are looking for and who most appeals to the platform is anyone who just wants to understand what works for them and what doesn’t. And that could actually be any person. ”

A permanent change

The pandemic is not over yet to transform the fitness industry.

“People are realizing that there is so much they can do at home that they can work at home some days and go to the gym on others,” said Hounslow. Rest more, don’t deal with traffic. ”

Miceli agreed and discussed the future.

“There’s no scenario where what’s going on in technology doesn’t change the fitness industry,” he said. “I think the fitness industry will be a combination of both in the future. I don’t think video or in-home wins completely.

“People are going to look at this hybrid combo where they know they can get the fitness they need at home through video or an interactive version of fitness, and then have the same social vibe that the friends, the Have seen them at the gym persist a few days a week. ”

Sean Marsala is a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based health journalist. He loves technology, usually reads, surfs the internet, and explores virtual worlds.