How the Pandemic Changed the Fitness Industry
And Why Now is the Best Time to Join
If you owned a gym or personal training business during the pandemic, my heart goes out to you. In 2020, 20% of gyms permanently closed in the United States. In Canada, around 33% of gym memberships were cancelled, with businesses reporting a combined 23% decrease in their operating revenue during 2020.
I have worked part-time as a trainer at a gym for many years, and it was stressful just to witness the countless hoops that my bosses had to jump through to keep their business afloat–from running classes in the studio parking lot at 5:30 a.m. to offering hybridised training sessions (in person and online) to managing surprise visits from the province’s health authorities. There’s no doubt that the pandemic took a disproportionately-large toll on the fitness industry. And now, almost three years since its beginning, we are (by most accounts) ‘post-pandemic’ and the fitness industry has been utterly transformed–and so have its users.
And there has never been a better time to join the industry.
You may be surprised to hear this–why would I say such a thing, when so many businesses have gone under and so many memberships have been cancelled?
1) People are ready to return to the gym.
There have been quite a few polls and studies since the beginning of the pandemic, inquiring about people’s exercise preferences and lifestyle. And all of them are saying the same thing: in North America, people are ready to return to the gym. One source, –, reports that a whopping 95% of people are intending to return, in some capacity, to in-person fitness.
2) Now more than ever, people understand the importance of staying healthy.
Every year, inactivity costs the Canadian healthcare system $3.9 billion. Most people now understand that good health is not just a ‘nice to have’, but an essential. Throughout the pandemic, experts were constantly telling us of the importance of a strong body, mind, and immune system, with regular exercise being just one way to keep ourselves resilient and fit. People today are taking this to heart (literally) and prioritising their health. And you, as a fitness professional, are uniquely situated to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle and reach their goals.
3) The industry is growing.
The fitness industry in Canada is one of the fastest growing sectors. The Canadian gym, health, and fitness industry was worth $5.7 billion in 2021 and is only expected to grow. Online fitness, in particular, has grown a whopping 40 percent. With still so many people choosing to work from home, there may never be a better time to transition to becoming an online trainer or offering hybridised services (part online, part in-person). Which leads into my next point…
4) You have the ability to maximize your time (and your clients’ time) with online training.
The world of work has changed, with more people than ever working from home and prioritising work-life balance. With many people still preferring to work out at home, we have the opportunity as personal trainers and coaches to offer online training so that people can exercise in their homes and enjoy greater flexibility in our own schedules.
Many people choose to work out at home, without a trainer. One potential drawback is a lack of consistency and discipline. For many people, it’s hard to stick to a good habit without external accountability, especially in the beginning phases of a new lifestyle change. This external accountability–whether it’s in the form of a gym buddy, workout class, or personal trainer–is what keeps people returning to the gym and keeps them consistent in their exercise habits. This is the value that you bring as a personal trainer. Today, by offering virtual training, you can have the best of both worlds, where the client is able to work out at home while also benefiting from your skills, knowledge, and encouragement.
5) Train clients from all over the world
Another huge, related benefit to an online business is that you can train clients from all over the world, in the gym and from home. The world really is your oyster when it comes to potential clients. In the past, you would be limited to training only the people in your vicinity. Now, post-pandemic, you can save on equipment and gym time slot rentals (yep, most personal trainers have to pay a gym rental fee for equipment and space for clients) by offering hybridised or online training and tapping into a virtually-limitless clientele pool.
It’s 2023 and the fitness industry has completely transformed. In this exciting new landscape, you have an unprecedented opportunity to shape your fitness career to best suit you, your lifestyle, and your goals. The pandemic showed us that when it comes to our wellbeing, ‘good enough’ isn’t always good enough and as a collective, we have never been so conscious of our physical wellness. As fitness professionals, we have been given new ways to empower people to improve their fitness and health and to make a meaningful difference in their lives.
Wishing you all the best on your fitness professional journey!
Written by Theresa Faulder, Master’s in English, Certified Personal Trainer, and Infofit fitness blog writer.