Is fitness still a viable career after COVID?
The fitness industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, with gyms in the UK being shut for 12 weeks at time of writing. Whilst opening is on the horizon once more, the hardship faced by many fit pros over the last few months may have made you think twice about whether fitness is a viable career in the post COVID world? What will our group fitness look like? Will there still be a demand for in-person training? Will home workouts remove the need for as many gyms? I’m sure these and many similar questions have crossed the mind of any fit pro recently. Now, I wholeheartedly believe that working in fitness is still a viable career, in fact I believe that now is maybe the best time to get into the industry. If you’d like to read some of my other opinions on what the fitness industry will look like post COVID then go and watch this YouTube video or read this post.
The first reason I believe fitness is still a viable career option after COVID is that the pandemic has taught us to diversify. More people than ever are taking their businesses online (myself included, obviously!) and this has opened up a whole new range of ways that we can train people. Who says that Zoom classes and online coaching need to end once the gyms open again? As I mentioned in my video, ‘ways to recession proof your fitness business,’ having an in-person and online offering will not only give you exponentially more earning potential but it will also keep your career viable if the gyms ever need to close again. The wonders of online mean you are not limited by geography and you can use this to reach people you couldn’t possibly have connected with before. People will always want to exercise and whilst this demand exists, if you produce quality content and coaching then of course you will have a viable career.
I really do believe that this might be the best possible time to join the fitness industry. Between 2013 and 2019 over 40,000 new people entered the fitness industry full time in the UK, and that number doesn’t take into account the people who teach as a side gig or some self-employed personal trainers. The market is worth over £5 billion and has grown over 20% since 2015. Even with the hit that the industry has taken from the pandemic, this time has made more people realise that without their health they have nothing. More people are going to start taking their health and fitness more seriously, and it is an area that people are chronically under-educated and often intimidated by. With hundreds of thousands more people heading to the internet and magazines for fitness advice, you as a fitness professional have the biggest potential client base ever right now. I think the industry is going to boom over the next 2-5 years, and you want to be a part of it whilst it grows, rather than looking in from the outside.
The third reason that I think fitness will still be a viable career post COVID is that gyms are going to adapt and change to meet the new world. Most gym chains that I have a connection with have been working hard behind the scenes during the closures to build a new post COVID offering, with social distanced machines, Perspex screens and new cleaning and operational procedures. How the industry worked before might not work in this new world, but it will change and adapt to what is being asked of it. Gym etiquette and layout of machines may never be the same, the way we run classes may never be the same, but why does it need to be? After a few months of doing things the new way we will have forgotten what it was like to run things the old way. I bet that 12 weeks into lockdown you are struggling to remember what your life was like before COVID, right? The same thing will be true here. Those who are unwilling to adapt or are yearning for the old ways of working won’t survive, but those who are willing to pivot what they were doing to fit the new mould will see a lot of success.
A great thing about working in fitness is that our work will never become obsolete. We don’t produce a product that one day people will not need, like plastic bottles or CD-ROMs. As long as there are people who want to be healthy, then there will be a place for those who want to help them achieve this.