Fitness Trends for 2021: Part 1 – Exercise Is medicine, how healthcare is crossing over into fitness

As we fast approach the end of the year, it’s certainly been one that not even the experts could have predicted. The fitness industry, along with everything else has been turned upside down. The landscape has changed forever as a result of COVID-19.

In this special three-part series we ask leading industry experts the question on everyone’s lips, “what is going to be the next big thing in fitness and what emerging fitness trends will we see in 2021?”

First up, how healthcare is crossing over into fitness…

Trend: Telemedicine

“What lockdown and working from home has proven, is that collectively, posture and form is one of the biggest health concerns for our population,” says Justin Rogers, Creative Director for Ten Health & Fitness. “With less movement, more couch-time and terrible working from home office-setups, we need our movement and wellbeing regime to help limit the damage we cause. Online GPs existed before coronavirus hit but again their development has been accelerated by the pandemic. In fact, telemedicine has developed beyond GP surgeries and we’re seeing the wellness industry also benefiting from this shift through services like online physiotherapy and other clinical care disciplines.

Going into 2021 we are going to see more people want to take care of their posture and form as they continue to work from home and we will see a rise in Telemedicine services to help members achieve this.

At Ten Health & Fitness, we remain the first boutique studio to bridge the gap between the exercise and medical sector. We offer a range of services either digitally or in-studio from group exercise classes and Personal Training through to Physiotherapy, exercise rehabilitation and Clinical Exercise Prescription. We’ve also pivoted to a fully blended offer, whereby our health and wellbeing services are available both in-studio or via virtual. From LIVE workouts and On-Demand fitness programmes to virtual physio assessments and clinical consultations.  As well as having the top Reformer Pilates classes and trainers in the capital, we also have a specialist team of physios, massage therapists and clinical specialists, all of which help customers gain strength and fitness in the safest, most sustainable and mindful way.”

Trend: Exercise on prescription

“In 2021 I believe we will see improved confidence and a greater uplift in exercise being given on prescription,” says Carron Manning Chartered Physiotherapist and founder of Exi. “Movement is the miracle cure and provided it’s safely prescribed and monitored, it can massively and positively impact the health of people with long term health conditions and sedentary lifestyles.  The management of people with chronic conditions accounts for 70% of the annual NHS budget and 50% of GP appointments.

In its 2015 report, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges pointed to exercise as being the “miracle cure” for a host of diseases, stating that: “the health improvements with physical activity are often greater than many drugs.” However, The Royal College of GPs said its members would need more resources if they were to advise patients on getting active.

Now with EXi, we have created that solution for GPs and operators running GP referral schemes.  EXi is the first exercise prescription-based app taking into account 23 chronic health conditions. It is already NHS-Approved and backed by Sport England. I believe 2021 will see GPs and health care professionals prescribing exercise giving leisure operators a great opportunity to use EXi in support of their face-to-face work to drive significant systemic and behavioural change among members.”

Trend: Exercise in the Community

“Going into 2021, we need to remember the importance of community now more than ever before,” says Paul Ferris, CEO for Speedflex. “Many members would’ve been left feeling lonely and isolated in 2020 and we need to build up confidence once again. The role of group exercise and the power of the gym community will be huge going into 2021

One particular part of our community we need to be focusing on in 2021 is supporting those with obesity. The pandemic has already shown that those with a higher BMI are more likely to be affected by COVID-19 and recent research has suggested that those who are overweight are twice as likely to end up in hospital as a result of catching COVID-19. This presents a huge opportunity for operators to provide structured solutions to these specific concerns.

As an industry, we have a duty of care to help this demographic get fitter and healthier by adapting our programmes and removing barriers to participation. So I expect to see more dedicated programmes on the market in 2021.”

Posted in Expert Opinion.