Once upon a time, home workouts were the next-best alternative when the gym was crowded (or closed), or you didn’t have the energy to hop in your car and beat rush-hour traffic.
But now, home fitness is one of the hottest fitness trends.
Grab your bands, dumbbells, and ankle weights (do those still exist?) — these at-home fitness workout trends and statistics will make you wonder, “Do I really need that gym membership?”
Keep reading to learn more!
What’s Trending at Home?
- The home fitness industry exploded in 2021, with home fitness equipment (+218.3%) and online fitness (+134.7) earning the title of the “best ways” to achieve fitness goals. These numbers also surged amongst gym-goers (+115.9% and 93.3%, respectively).
- The COVID-19 pandemic created a surge in at-home workouts and fitness tech popularity. Surveys revealed that home equipment sales climbed 5%, while Americans spent 10% more on paid fitness apps.
- A survey of 2,000 people uncovered two not-so-shocking facts: three in four people find staying fit at home “easier,” and 64% report an all-time high interest in home fitness.
The Pre-Pandemic At-Home Fitness Industry
Home gyms were already an “American thing” long before COVID-19 crossed its borders. They’re convenient, low cost (in the long run), and bring privacy that regular gyms cannot.
Yet, while some turn to at-home fitness for those reasons, others do it because they’re not on board with the typical gym atmosphere.
A poll rolled out by Better found that the most excuses for avoiding the gym were:
- Too little time (39.46%)
- Low confidence or self-esteem (16.55%)
- Crowds (14.28%)
- Childcare (10.11%)
- Recent haircare (7.09%)
- … a fear of spandex — yes, really (4.9%)
In reality, the pandemic simply nudged gym-goers (or even completely inactive folks) to the home workout lifestyle, and many refuse to look back!
How the Pandemic Impacted At-Home Workout Trends
Even though the statistics on exercise and life expectancy were mostly common knowledge, interest in fitness surged as the pandemic crossed the globe.
In fact, according to an editorial published in 2020:
- “High-intensity interval training” (or HIIT) and “home-based exercise” were popular search topics on Google.
- Sixty-two percent of people found exercise more crucial post-COVID than pre.
- Thirty-one percent of people were more active during the pandemic.
- Searches for “exercise” surpassed those for “television show” during the first two weeks of lockdown in the United Kingdom and Australia (hey, it’s a start!).
Home workouts — whether virtual or on-your-own — were simply more accessible.
The Home Fitness Equipment Boom
- Experts predict the home fitness equipment boom to continue, even after getting control of the COVID-19 pandemic. The market size will likely topple $14.74 billion in 2028 (with a CAGR of 4.6%), up from $10.73 billion in 2021.
- Fitness equipment sales skyrocketed 55% in the early days of the pandemic lockdowns (January through March).
- Athletic stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Foot Locker have thrived in recent years. The average person invested $101–$250 on sports and fitness equipment in a single year, with another 8.45% spending more than $500.
- In the United Kingdom, exercise bike sales soared over 2,000% in 2020.
- The home gym industry accounts for nearly half of the entire fitness market.
The Most Popular Home Fitness Equipment
COVID-19 quarantines forced regular gym-goers to improvise at home. Meanwhile, others used exercise to defeat the boredom of being homebound, becoming active for the first time ever.
In June 2020, OnePoll and Freeletics surveyed 2,000 Americans to learn more about their newfound fitness habits. The most popular pandemic fitness gear purchases were:
- Yoga mats (36.94%)
- Resistance bands (35.17%)
- Dumbbells (28.31%)
- Jump ropes (27.95%)
- Exercise bikes (26.11%)
- Ankle weights (24.27%)
- Exercise balls (22.93%)
- Treadmills & ellipticals (20.52%)
But the COVID-spurred home gym craze wasn’t so temporary.
In fact, that same survey revealed that 55.6% of respondents either somewhat or strongly agreed that they might (or already did) cancel their gym membership in favor of home workouts.
On that note …
At-Home Fitness: The End of Traditional Gyms?
Gym memberships in America had nearly doubled between 2000 and 2019 (from 32.8 to 64.2 million — or 19.4% of the nation’s population). Then, a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic happened.
Gyms put memberships on indefinite pauses, chains like 24 Hour Fitness filed for bankruptcy, and 45.06–67.77% of membership-holders either canceled or considered nixing their passes.
But did COVID-19 and the resulting at-home fitness fad kill gym life as we know it?
While the home fitness industry is only expected to balloon into 2028, and most Americans dump $101–$250 per year into training equipment, traditional gyms are on the rebound.
As it turns out, Americans are so undecided on the home vs. gym workout debate that they’re willing to fork over more to experience the best of both worlds. (So gyms are here to stay!)
Home Workouts … On a Budget
A $101–$250 spending spree on gym gear might not seem like much (that’ll buy you about a tenth of an iPhone). Then again, the median bank account in the U.S. has $5,300 tucked away.
Fortunately, at-home fitness thrives on the long-term affordability factor. Stocking a home gym — including the floor panels, mirror, TV, and equipment — costs about $2,000, on average.
Now, how does that compare to gym memberships?
RunRepeat discovered that the monthly membership fee at 16 gym chains averaged about $37.71/month. Compare that to a home gym that’ll pay itself off within 53 months.
It seems like a lose-lose toss-up: toss two Jacksons to your gym per month (vs. filling up the gas tank) … or dump your future child’s college fund into a basement or garage set-up.
But home gyms don’t have to be elaborate masterpieces either.
The basics — a set of resistance bands, adjustable dumbbells, and an adjustable bench — could run you closer to that $400–$500 price range and last for years or even decades.
Online/Virtual Workouts on the Rise
- The virtual and online fitness industry is booming, expected to reach a $59.23 billion value by 2027, up exponentially from $6.04 billion in 2019.
- With pandemic-related gym closures and lockdowns, 68% of Americans turned to online fitness as an alternative.
- Between 2015 and 2021, Beachbody’s subscriber base snowballed from a meager 300,000 users to over 2.6 million. Beachbody stole the podium from Peloton and its two million subscribers.
- Beachbody’s subscriber retention rate stands at an impressive 96%, slightly higher than Peloton’s mid-90%.
The Most Popular Virtual Workout Subscriptions & Apps
It’s no surprise that internet and smartphone usage surged to record-highs during the COVID-19 pandemic, giving rise to virtual workout platforms and online fitness apps.
But which of the thousands are worth the download or subscription? Here’s a closer look at the most popular trends in virtual fitness:
Beachbody On Demand
At $99 for a full-year subscription (as of Nov. 2021), the deal alone is enough to draw the crowds to Beachbody On Demand.
But the 96% retention rate is completely expected, with a lineup of 40+ programs targeting every fitness goal imaginable — weight loss, endurance, strength, and general athleticism.
On top of exercising alongside top trainers like Shaun T and Tony Horton, many Beachbody routines also require little to no equipment.
Peloton graced the fitness scene in 2014 and became a breakout hit during COVID, bringing life to the phrase “home gym” (at a somewhat steep $1,500 bike plus a $12.99/month subscription).
These instructor-led bike workouts last 30–90 minutes and allow users to literally race to the top of the class’s leaderboard. Stars like Patrick Mahomes might also be pedaling alongside you.
Users report losing 15, 40, even 70 pounds with a Peloton. But it’s the group spin class feel without leaving the house that motivates Peloton’s user base to continue pedaling.
Come on, Peloton!
BodyFit is Bodybuilding.com’s workout platform, host to more than 90 programs and a one-stop-shop for home training on a budget ($6.99/month).
In addition to variety, BodyFit also offers a few extra tools up its sleeve. BodyFit is also home to an exercise database for swaps, a built-in rest timer, workout tracking, and nutritional guides.
Are Virtual Workouts Better or Worse Than In-Person Training?
Yes. (We know that didn’t answer your question, but the answer depends on you.)
The Case for Virtual Workouts
Low gym turnout was an issue well before the pandemic, but while “Americans are lazy” is a generally true statement, there is such a thing as gym-timidation.
In fact, a 2019 survey of 2,000 Americans found that half of all people suffer from some form of gym-related anxiety.
Another Fit Rated poll of 1,000 Americans with fear of the gym found that 51.4% of people were so fearful of judgment that they avoided the gym. Most respondents felt judged because:
- Of their weight (59.5%)
- They used the equipment wrong (52.5%)
- They weren’t “fit-looking enough” (51.4%)
- They performed an exercise improperly (49.2%)
- Of their clothing choice (43.8%)
- They relied on improper form (43.0%)
In total, 69.6% of respondents felt judged while training at the gym. Virtual workouts relieve that social pressure and allow you to train alone and where you feel most comfortable: at home!
Plus, they save time (driving to the gym), money (gas), and patience (the guy who insists on doing curls in the squat rack during the 5 PM gym rush).
(Also, there’s no competition for equipment; crank out supersets or giant sets and sit on the bench for two minutes between sets to your heart’s desire.)
The Case for In-Person Training
There are a million and one reasons to train at home in the comfort of your own living room, basement, or garage. But virtual, long-distance workouts will never compare to a real gym’s:
- Equipment availability — cable machines, free weights, Smith machine, machines
- Motivating factors with a workout partner by your side — studies show that training alongside somebody “better” can bump up training intensity a startling 200%
- Sense of routine — it’s easier to stop at the gym on the drive home from work than convince yourself to whip out the resistance bands while lounging on the sofa
- Group classes — some people thrive in the instructor-led group classes, whether it’s Zumba, circuit training, CrossFit, or something else
- Focus — no kids, phones, Netflix shows, pets, or knocks on the door to interrupt you
All in all, both virtual and in-person workouts have their pros and cons. It really comes down to personal preference and whichever motivates you to get up and move!
The best part of the at-home fitness craze is that the options are limitless. A home gym is the more popular, long-term option for those committed to building mass or shredding fat.
Plus, you don’t have to sell your kidney to afford one. Low-cost yet versatile gear like resistance bands, dumbbells (adjustable), a bench, and a power rack open up tons of possibilities.
But, there’s also the purely digital fitness route.
Subscription models like BodyFit, Beachbody On Demand, and Peloton make home workouts possible with little to no equipment. (The pre-made workouts are definitely a bonus, too).
Or, you can broaden the variety with Athlean-X or DIY home workouts!
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