By Matt Evans
The gyms in England are finally opening their doors, with many stringent measures being put in place to safeguard fitness fans. From wiping down all equipment with disposable anti-bacterial wipes, to social distancing and temperature swabbing, gyms are taking the pandemic very seriously indeed.
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This could be all in vain, however, as many gym members have not yet returned. Exercise app Eastnine.fit conducted a poll of its users, and found almost all of them were avoiding the gym for a little while longer.
The survey, which consisted of 2,000 adults using the Eastnine.fit app, found only 1 in 10 of them were planning to return to the gym now the gates are open. Even though putting on weight during lockdown was considered a key motivation to exercise, returning to the gym was seen as risky or otherwise undesirable.
However hard the gyms try to cultivate a safe environment, there is still a lot of anxiety about working out inside with lots of other people. Our writer braved the doors of Fitness First on Saturday, only to find out just 25 people had clocked in across the entire day.
Thanks to COVID-19, the way we work out has changed. Lots of people now have running shoes, dumbbells, exercise bikes, treadmills, resistance bands and other home workout gear they did not have before. Now the gym are back open, people who might ordinarily have gone back to the gym now find they've got everything they need at home.
Many people are also rediscovering the joy in working out outside. One study from the Peninsula College of Medicine has shown exercising in parks, woods and other natural environments was associated with greater feelings of revitalisation, increased energy and positive engagement than working out indoors.
It could be this new wave of home and outdoor exercise that is keeping would-be gymgoers from returning, as well as fear of the virus.
The study from Eastnine.fit also found several more interesting factoids from its users. Two-thirds (63%) of 18-24 year-olds are said to have felt pressure to work out more during lockdown, citing social media such as Facebook and Instagram as the direct cause.
By contrast, only 30% of 35-44 year olds felt the same way, with the majority feeling no pressure to impress their followers.
If you're not comfortable heading back to the gym, don't worry: we've got all the home workout gear you need, from resistance bands to exercise bikes and treadmills.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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