The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown in most countries around the world has significantly altered lifestyles. As people became home-bound, what was once considered normal took a back seat, which transformed the way we live, work, shop, study and interact for now. We gradually slipped into a ‘new normal’ and realized how things like going for a walk in the neighborhood or enjoying a meal with friends was once taken for granted.
|| Akshinta Das
Home workouts are the new normal
Gym and fitness centers were one of the first public spaces to shut down. Other alternatives such as parks, playgrounds and stadiums were also shut and people lost out on the opportunity to go out for a walk or cycle. With treadmills and barbells gathering dust, India was quick to find substitutes to hit the gym for daily work-outs. This new habit is, in fact, a pleasant surprise considering a huge number of people who are now religiously following a home workout routine were not exercising regularly before the COVID-19 induced lockdown. Being at home or not having the ability to play any sport or hit the gym, does not mean that one cannot stay active. Since the beginning of the lockdown, many members of the Decathlon community, including teammates and volunteer sports ambassadors, came together online through its #playitsafe campaign, offering virtual workouts ranging from indoor running, strength and conditioning to targeted workouts and yoga sessions. All together, #playitsafe fitness activities and challenges have seen a reach of 2.5 million – clearly indicating how fitness attitudes are changing.
This is why a lot of people are focussing on buying indoor sports equipment to bolster their home gyms and become their healthiest versions. Virtual workouts are gaining popularity as well. For example, during the last two months, registrations for digital training sessions for zumba, yoga, pilates, aerobics, and various strength and fitness training programmes peaked like never before. Decathlon’s fitness blog saw a near double spike in users and virtual workout sessions provided by its community were attended by a huge number of people.
Investing in fitness
In terms of the sale of fitness-related products, sales for yoga mats and dumbbells surged and the sales of bikes doubled since the relaxation of the lockdown when compared to the pre-COVID months at sporting goods retailer, Decathlon. Decathlon also saw an increase in the online sales of bikes doubling, specifically for the sports segment of road bikes after lockdown restrictions were lifted. Fitness equipment such as cross trainers and ellipticals(self-powered) saw 200% with fitness accessories such as resistance bands, growing over 2000% in May alone. There was also a significant increase in people buying Yoga mats than before with volumes increasing by 35%. With the reopening of select Decathlon stores, products for cycling, fitness cardio, yoga and running were among the top-ten purchased categories for customers looking to bolster home equipment for fitness. This included Decathlon products for cross-training, body-building and shoes for jogging and fitness.
Increasing sales of these products indicate how fitness has seen the reset button after the coronavirus crisis and how family members are motivating each other by attempting to stay fit. Even parents have shown considerable effort in ensuring that children are active during this period, with a lot of them investing in home exercise and play equipment for their children. With this, the ‘work and play’ balance that saw a critical imbalance before the pandemic is finally being restored.
Health, fitness, and play equipment: Essentials during a pandemic
The World Health Organisation underscores the importance of physical activity and relaxation techniques as valuable tools to remain calm and healthy during the coronavirus pandemic or otherwise. During a stressful period like this, when people are staying at home to limit the transmission of the virus, a sedentary lifestyle can have negative effects on the physical health, mental well-being and quality of life of individuals. Daily headlines on the severity of the coronavirus crisis is further exacerbating stress and anxiety in many people. This is why it is important to invest one’s time in sports and fitness and stay active. Regular moderate-intensity workouts are also considered to be an important factor in building immunity, with several reports suggesting that people who are physically active are more immune to upper respiratory tract infections than those who are not. Focused physical exercise also increases the production and release of Serotonin, a mood-regulating hormone, that can make us mindful and keep depression at bay. This highlights the importance of having access to fitness products and equipment during a pandemic.
Even as India enters Unlock 1.0, where economic activities are slowly resuming and people are getting back to work in the relatively safer zones, it is unlikely that gyms and other fitness centres will open anytime soon. This means that home workouts will continue to be the best way to stay healthy and active. Playing a sport or sticking to a fitness routine is not just something we need to do in our free time but more than ever, it needs to be ingrained in our daily lives. It is encouraging to see scores of eager sports and fitness enthusiasts returning to Decathlon stores guided by this belief. This is a tell-tale sign that sporting and fitness products are the new essentials that everyone needs continuous and easy access to at a time like this.