The corona virus pandemic has a considerable effect on the sports economy, including the fitness sector. However, the majority of the professionals working in this field are not waiting for the reopening of gymnasia idle, professor Bába Éva Bácsné, director of the Institute of Sports Economics and Management, UD stressed at the beginning of the online workshop.
Viktória Prémusz, senior lecturer at the Pécs University of Arts and Sciences presented the research led by Pongrác Ács. The nationwide, representative study involving 1200 adults focuses on the analysis of the changes that have taken place in the living and working conditions of the Hungarian population, and particularly in their physical activity and sport consumption habits. The results show that 64% of those surveyed did not engage in sports, and this percentage rose to 78% during the pandemic. Although the popularity of online training increased, it does not counteract the degree of loss suffered in sport, the researchers claim.
László Zopcsák, founder of IWI International Fitness School, the official partner of Real Madrid Graduate School - Universidad Europea, CEO of IWIREPs talked about the past, present and future of the fitness sector. He said that, before the pandemic, there was continuous growth in the number of people using fitness devices, and by 2020 the number of European club members had reached 64,8 million. In accordance with this, the sector’s revenue was also increasing from year to year, amounting to 28.2 billion Euros before the pandemic, a sum surpassing the revenue of the European football sector. With these data the European fitness sector exceeds those of the North-American fitness sector. László Zopcsák thinks that gymnasia will probably work differently than before in the future as they will have to comply with very strict safety regulations. Post-covid, about 15-20% of them will not open and roughly 10-15% of the customers will not come back, however, the revenue of marketing firms selling fitness tools will rise due to home training.
Tamás Balogh, professional and operational director of the UniFit Fitness & Gym Center operating in the Debrecen Nagyerdei Stadion since 2017 explained that, in shaping their anti-covid strategy, they consulted and took into account the opinions of the relevant experts of the University of Debrecen.
Their message to consumers was that strengthening the immune system was a powerful tool in preventing the disease through exercise and sport. He also revealed that, in cooperation with the Institute of Sports Science and Coordination and the Diagnostic Sport, Lifestyle and Therapy Center, they are designing a Cardiowise Program for people suffering from post covid-syndrome. This programme is built on the principle that the researchers follow the patients’ physiological processes during increasingly heavy training sessions, measuring, among other things, oxygen saturation, pulse, and making ECGs, the director of UNiFit explained.
- I am convinced that, when the population becomes protected due to vaccination, the fitness industry will bounce back again with even more people wishing to take part in this sport than before. I am basing this on the fact that after the reopening after the first lockdown last year there was a big jump in our turnover, said Tamás Balogh.
Anetta Müller, associate professor of the Institute of Sports Economics and Management of UD spoke about the results of their research conducted using in-depth interviews in 33 gymnasia of the North-Alföld region before the Covid pandemic. In this research their aim was to find out how the services offered by these places compare to similar international fitness trends. In these places the most popular fitness training form at the time of the research was TRX. This was followed by body shaping aerobics, own weight training, and crossfit. Anetta Müller believes that the proportion of individual training sessions will likely increase after the pandemic.
Christa Pfau, senior lecturer at the Institute of Sports Economics and Management of UD spoke about the research during which they had investigated 11 larger fitness rooms giving group classes. They examined their services, conducted interviews with the instructors and described the places’ economic background. It turned out, among other things, that the highest number of people had enrolled on the body shaping sessions in Debrecen but the spinning and the TRX sessions were also very popular.
Éva Judit Bartha, research fellow at the Institute of Sports Economics and Management of UD explained that, unsurprisingly, after the lockdown of fitness rooms due to the covid pandemic, online and open air training forms became popular. Many people started to do sport on their own while, unfortunately, some stopped doing regular exercise altogether. 23 % of respondents now do exercise using applications downloaded from the Internet, 40 % do online real time training courses, and 46 % do sport using coach videos. All trainers would like to return to in-person sessions while many have recognised the great opportunities provided by online training sessions so they would keep those, too, to compliment in-person training, the workshop was told.