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The Future Of Fitness By Natalie Straley

The Future Of Fitness By Natalie Straley

The Future of Fitness

Today I completed a virtual COVID-19 briefing with several Atlanta based gyms.   The reviews were mixed, and the future of brick and mortar fitness feels complex and uncertain.  To date over 100,000 American lives have been lost to COVID-19 and we are advised that the virus will continue to come in dramatic waves, resulting in periods of quarantine for years, possibly another as soon as August 2020. 

Gym’s scramble to institute an effective safety measure.   Each precaution seems debatable and lends itself to additional risk.  Eliminating or reducing group fitness class sizes mitigates the ability to pay the rent.  Let’s face it – the thought of doing cardio or group fitness in masks, avoiding aerosolization from people who are breathing heavy or coughing, sharing,, and personally sanitizing weights and mats prior to and after use is enough to make you want to stay at home. 

Our world is in limbo.  Our anxiety-ridden, frantically paced, sleepless, and chronic-pain plagued society needs fitness now more than ever.  In order to stay in business Gym’s and fitness professionals must continue to find a way to provide their members  with quality fitness resources that can be accessed from home.  This is the future of fitness! We have collectively been tasked to reinvent the fitness model in order to thrive and save our local fitness establishments. 

Fortunately, reinvention isn’t a foreign concept to me.  Transitioning from full-time lawyer to fitness coach, competitor, performer and competition judge taught me about rebranding.  Within 48 hours of mandatory quarantine, I took what I knew as a coach and transition it online as fast and effectively as possible.  I ran fitness challenges and began teaching live- stream virtual interactive private and group flexibility, strength, acrobatics, contemporary dance, and apparatus-based classes to students around the world.  I encouraged students to supplement gym equipment with household items.  I was able to introduce movement, pan between screens, interact and refer to people by name, improve their movement, and answer questions.  I journeyed into many living rooms and learned first-hand about the unique advantages of virtual fitness.

I learned quite a bit about myself and the world during this time.  One of the largest takeaways from my experience was the enormous impact that virtual platforms had on encouraging people to sample new skills.  I’m sure many factors influenced this, including the ability to remain anonymous.  However, enormous numbers of people who had abandoned the notion of learning to dance, danced.  Those who would’ve been terrified to attend a martial arts class, learned karate.  The risk of trying new things didn’t produce the same feelings of vulnerability as walking into a live class.  The quarantine fitness trend seems to have improved our physical and emotional resiliency at equal rates.  Anyone with internet access and a phone, tablet or computer could suddenly train any discipline with leading experts in the comfort of their living room for incredibly low costs. 

The future of fitness will be increasingly virtual! Prior to investing in large fitness platforms, I strongly encourage supporting your local small business fitness studios by visiting their website and seeing what is available online via live stream or prerecorded classes.  I can be reached Natalie.Cirqfitness on Instagram or through @inspireaerialarts 



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