Quarter of gym-goers don’t expect they’ll ever return to fitness clubs thanks to coronavirus

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SANTA CRUZ, Ca — A new survey shows that many Americans won’t be running back to their gyms when the coronavirus lockdown ends. People have found new ways to get their exercise in while fitness clubs remain closed and don’t see a reason to return to their pre-COVID routines.

In all, 2,000 adults who exercise at least twice a week were polled as gyms start to open back up in certain states. The survey was conducted on behalf of LIFEAID Beverages Co.

Nearly a quarter of respondents (24%) say they will never return to the gym at all. A third will keep their membership, but expect to go less frequently than they used to. About half of respondents plan to wait a bit before returning to their gyms once they open back up. Most will wait four to five weeks before heading in for their first workout.

A modest 42% of Americans use their home gym set-ups these days, which they now prefer over their fitness club.

Mask requirements at gyms

Of course, people choosing to go back to the gym may face numerous changes. Some facilities may require members to wear masks, but not everyone likes this idea. About a quarter (26%) of people surveyed refuse to go to a gym that mandates face masks. Another 29% say they are anti-mask, but they’ll wear one if the gym asks them to do so.

Surprisingly, just 20% of people who consider themselves pro-mask will likely only wear one if the gym requires it. Moreover, only 26% of the pro-mask segment will only go to a gym where face coverings are the rule.

Regardless of how people feel about masks in the gym, 62% agree that masks help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Despite the quarter of respondents who won’t go to gyms that require masks, an overwhelming 83% admit they’d feel more comfortable at the gym if everyone was wearing one.

Sanitizer shaming?

To help keep facilities clean, it’s important that gym members do their part and wipe down equipment. Almost 40% say they will sanitize every piece of equipment before they use it. Nine in 10 respondents say they will be vigilant about others wiping down equipment; though just under half will actually call somebody out if they walked away without doing any sort of cleaning.

“We understand why some gym-goers may reject wearing a mask throughout their entire workout, but no one should drop the ball on cleanliness and disinfection of hands and equipment. It’s a courtesy and a personal responsibility as much as the responsibility of the gyms,” says Aaron Hinde, co-founder of LIFEAID, in a statement.

Back to the grind

As for how Americans are feeling after these months of quarantine, three in four suspect they’ll need to put in a lot of extra hours of exercise to get back in shape. Still, the same amount say they have a more positive relationship with their own bodies than before the pandemic.

“If we experience lasting, positive change from the gym shut down, we hope it’s an embrace of some level of moderation. We can be fit, healthy and very strong without being obsessive,” says Hinde. “And smart moderation may also be better for our longer term physical health.”

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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