Emma O'Connell

06 Sep 2021

[Alarm sounds – loudly] One eye opens with a struggle. 05:15… Okay, I have around 5, possibly 10 minutes to ‘come to’ before I must get up…

[Alarms sounds – I swear more aggressively this time – how does it know?] 05:27… Okay I’m up! Even if my head is the last thing to leave my bed, I’m up! Gym kit on – face washed – teeth and hair brushed – pre-packed bag for the day ahead ready – out of the door – on bus – in gym – legs spinning uncontrollably to the Ministry of Sound’s latest club mix – all by 06:30.

I look back on ‘that Emma’ in disbelief and shock – how (quite literally how?!) was that considered a normal part of my daily/weekly routine? Especially as that was, in my eyes, an anything but ‘unusual’ way to kick-start my day. After that was an 8-hour working day followed by an evening spent with friends at a restaurant for dinner – all in a day’s work, aye! And all to be repeated the following day…

Then, March 2020 arrived and with it a lockdown due to the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic. And just like that, everything changed practically overnight.

Suddenly, we were all working from home full time, shops and restaurants shut down, and our personal hygiene levels went through the roof. But I don’t need to tell you this stuff because, like me, you lived through it.

And for a while, ‘working from home’ not only seemed like a luxury, but it was this exciting, never-before-seen event – the entire agency working from home! It meant longer lie-ins, no commute (result!), breakfasts other than porridge (toast – hooray – it’s the simple things 😉) and no more ‘needing’ to be at a 06:30 gym class. But then again, I like so many naïvely thought this was a short-term thing – it’d all be over in 3 weeks…right?

I’ll be fine, I thought, I can quite happily get on board with YouTube workouts as a short-term answer. Yes, I’d miss the buzz of stumbling into a space where the energy of everyone cycling in unison to the latest chart hits gives me the strength to face the day.

But soon those YouTube workouts went from 3 weeks to 5 weeks, to 7 weeks, and before I knew it, 3 months had passed. And my cycling studio was no closer to reopening…

Thankfully we’re almost a year and a half on from March 2020, and just as we’ve had to adapt in so many other areas, such as with the emergence of ‘hybrid-working’, will we see ourselves taking a similar approach to fitness? Rather than gym-only or home-only workouts, will we find ourselves combining the two, if not already, more often?

Which begs the question: will ‘hybrid-fitness’ be thing?

Yes – I think so! Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t to say prior to the pandemic, people didn’t work out both in the gym and at home. But we’ve seen a shift in what’s possible and even redefined what a home work out is/can be.

The $32 billion fitness industry has had to ‘adapt’ just like other industries, by moving their work out classes online, for example. We saw multiple fitness accounts make use of ‘live’ features on social platforms, modifying versions of their usual in-person classes so that we could enjoy them from the comfort of our own living rooms.

And now that both the gyms and us gym-goers know that’s possible, more of us are now expect that choice: work out at the gym but also have the gym experience at home. Kind of like having our cake and eating it too.

The future for hybrid-fitness?

So, what’s the future for hybrid-fitness? I think one thing is for sure – it’s here to stay.

A top-quality studio class experience, the type that used to only be experienced in gyms or studios (such as indoor cycling) can now be enjoyed in the comfort of your own home. Peloton, NordicTrack, Myx Fitness to name but a few.

If cycling isn’t your thing, there’s now even an interactive mirror that transforms from your standard ‘check appearance’ mirror into your ‘home-training mirror’. It has fully personalised, immersive sessions for your body and mind, and even offers nutritional health tips.

So, you can quite literally roll out of bed into a workout, and should you so wish (dare) to ask: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fittest of them all?”

One thing is for sure, I think hybrid-fitness is here to stay and I’m all for it. I think as we return to our ‘usual’ way of living, we’ll see people return to gyms to get that in-studio experience – because there’s no denying, there’s a difference in how it makes you feel.

However, the convenience and comfort (as well as joy) that home workouts can bring, means that the only time I’ll ever be setting a 05:15 alarm again is if I need to catch a flight to go on holiday 😊