“COVID has completely changed our world.” In truth, COVID-19 didn’t cause the changes we’ve all experienced. Instead, COVID-19 acted as a change accelerator. COVID-19 didn’t singlehandedly cause disruption in higher education, the advent of artificial intelligence, widespread business consolidation, or the use of Zoom for a team meeting (a small sample of changes). COVID-19 acted as an accelerator of changes that were already occurring or were on the horizon.
The most important change that was already underway in the fitness industry (albeit a very slow change) that has been accelerated by COVID-19 is:
the shift in exercise motivation from a primary motivation of aesthetic to the primary motivation of health that underpins our exercise. Strength training is a potent intervention for combatting metabolic syndrome; a clustering of risk factors that predispose us to cardiovascular disease. Of course, we’ve known this for years (I published my Master’s thesis on this topic in 2011). Yet, for most of the exercising public, aesthetic is what the fitness industry lead with and for good reason. This is what most fitness consumers were chasing. This has changed over the last two decades, but slowly. The advent of COVID-19 and the powerful association between strength training and improved cardio-metabolic health reframes our exercise as a health behavior and not a pursuit of vanity. I think this acceleration of change is positive and long overdue.
To borrow the title of a study published in the International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation in 2015: “Resistance Exercise is Medicine.”
Note: Respectfully, COVID-19 has changed the lives of thousands of people. My statements above refer largely to the trends and shifts in how we live, connect, and work.