The End of the Fitness World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)

Sunlight floods into CrossFit 204, with a sign reading "moved online" on the floor of the gym.

Today, the Manitoba government essentially killed the existing fitness industry in the province.

I won’t make this a political statement. Others can argue about health care, the economy and the fairness of the Manitoba government’s plan. I’m not an expert in any of those areas.

I am a fitness expert, so I’ll tell you what’s going to happen to the existing local industry: It’s going to die.

But fitness will live on.

Manitoba’s COVID Plan and the Fitness Industry

In case you missed it, on April 29 the Manitoba government rolled out a phased plan called “Restoring Safe Services.” You can download a PDF here (if the site is working).

Gyms are listed in “future phases” beyond Phase 2, which starts “no earlier than June 1”: “Subsequent to phase two, additional phases will be considered. New phases will be implemented on a three-to-four week basis.”

So that means, at best, gyms might only be allowed to open in very late June or early July—with restrictions that will make their profitable operation almost impossible. Any small spikes in covid-19 cases will cause our government to put the brakes on the plan, so I’d be surprised to see gyms open before fall.

Here’s the reality: Almost no business can survive a four-month shutdown that might become six months if a few people sneeze in the wrong place. I know one Snap Fitness has already gone under, and I expect more big boxes to follow. That’s a tragedy, and my heart goes out to the owners, staff and patrons of these facilities.

Here’s another truth: We saw this coming, and we were prepared. We also assumed the Manitoba government would leave the fitness industry to die, so we planned for that, too.

Final truth: You still need fitness even if you can’t go to the gym, and we can provide it. Read on.

A fit blond woman performs a lateral lunge in her living room as part of an online workout.

A Short History of Failure in the Fitness Industry

Back in the early days of fitness, gyms were sparse—a few dumbbells and barbells, some stall bars, maybe some gymnastics equipment. All in all, the gym in the ’20s wasn’t that different than our gym, 204.

In the ’50s, fitness exploded, and machines appeared in greater numbers, replacing the few rugged contraptions that existed before that. By the ’60s, Universal equipment was everywhere, and by the ’70s, Nautilus machines had taken over. In the ’80s, Arnold Schwarzenegger and more complex machines appeared.

Read “Rise of the Machines”

In the early 2000s, CrossFit appeared—a throwback program that eliminated almost all the machines and emphasized compound movements and gymnastics.

But more than anything else, it emphasized coaching.

See, you don’t really need a coach to use a fitness machine. The instructions are printed on the machine, and you can just follow them. Doing so is better than sitting on your couch, but it’s not optimal for health and fitness.

Optimal training for health involves working with a coach who can put together a plan to help you achieve your goals through fitness and nutrition. That coach can work in a group setting, one on one, or online.

Here’s the greatest secret of the old fitness industry, and something we’re all about to find out:

True fitness was never about access to facilities. It’s always been about coaching, motivation and accountability.

Some people were able to cover those bases themselves, and they thrived working out on their own in big-box facilities. But many others just stopped going to the gym due to confusion or lack of results, and still others bought equipment and never used it for long.

That’s another hard truth about the old fitness industry: It wasn’t ever very good at motivating people. It failed a lot of people. Too many.

Statistics from facilities show that most members don’t ever go to the gym, and turnover is huge. People who are left to their own devices are simply set up to fail because they don’t get results and they aren’t motivated to keep training. How many people actually know how to create a program that will result in weight loss, increased strength and improved cardiovascular fitness? Not very many.

We know know how to do that. But there’s much more to fitness. So our facility was created to provide coaching as well as motivation and accountability. For about eight years, we did that only in person. Then we started doing it online—and our clients got results in both places.

So when we heard about coronavirus, we knew what was coming, and we moved online immediately. We’re still there now. So are our clients.

And that’s where you’ll find the new fitness industry.

We’ll rebuild it—and make it better.

A collection of people make the heart symbol at the end of an online fitness workout conducted on Zoom.
Fitness lives on.

What’s Next for Fitness?

The government just told you that gyms are not essential, even though fitness has been shown to be a great weapon in the fight against covid-19.

I’m not here to argue, and I’m all for public health.

So what I will say is this: Fitness is essential right now even if gyms are not. You don’t have to stop working out, and you don’t have to put your goals on hold. You can still work out, and you can still start a fitness program.

We’ve been operating completely online since mid-March, and here’s what we can tell you:

  • We can provide motivation and accountability online.
  • We can provide movement coaching online.
  • We can improve strength online with household objects.
  • We can improve conditioning online with household objects.
  • We can help you lose or gain weight through online nutrition coaching.
  • We can provide personalized programs designed to help you accomplish goals at home.
  • We can help you blow off stress.
  • We can help your kids stay active.
  • We can make you smile online.

Can you work out on your own now that gyms are gone? Yes, you absolutely can.

But most people don’t. That’s why treadmills and fitness gear can always be found in garage sales.

And, as mentioned above, most people don’t know how to work out—especially now that they don’t have access to a lot of equipment.

That’s why the future of fitness is online. We’ve been there for years, and we’ve been exclusively online for six weeks.

A fit blond coach conducts an online training session from her living room in Winnipeg.

We’re making people stronger and healthier every day, and now that the government has finally given us some clarity on the situation, we’re expanding our online programs.

We’ve committed to being lighthouses for our current members, and while we’re sad that we can’t see them in person, we see them online every day. And we also host cooking demos, wine nights and social events. We’re providing the same coaching and accountability we always did—and the social time that’s sorely missing right now.

We can help new people who are going to be lost without a fitness industry, too. We’re fully equipped to help people start training today with programs customized to their goals and equipment (even if they don’t have equipment).

We’ll roll out more programs in the coming days—as I said, we have a plan to keep people moving in Winnipeg and Manitoba. And we’ll keep evolving as we get more info from the government.

But for now, just remember that gyms are gone for the foreseeable future.

That doesn’t mean fitness has to stop.

To our current members, we’ve got you covered. Your training will not be interrupted—and we have a host of fun online events planned to keep you smiling.

To anyone out there who wants to work out, we’ve got you, too. You can talk to us online for free by clicking the link below.

To book a free online consultation, click here.

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