How COVID-19 Changed the Fitness Industry in Minnesota

How COVID-19 Changed the Fitness Industry in Minnesota


Of all the industries that took a hit Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the
The fitness sector has been among the hardest hit. According to the National Health & Fitness Alliance, 22% of fitness clubs and studios in the United States have closed since the start of the pandemic,
and the industry lost over $29.2 billion. At the same time, the exercise emerged
as a crucial tool for staying healthy – mentally and physically – amid
of a global health crisis.

Here’s how the fitness industry has changed since COVID-19 hit.

How gyms have adapted to COVID-19

From spring 2020, gyms were forced to close for an average of two to five months. (California closed them for more than nine years.) In Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz ordered gyms closed for two separate periods that year, from March 17 to June 10 and again for a month from November 19. to December 19.

“All of a sudden we were mandated to literally shut down every single one of our clubs, so we had to think fast,” says Steve Larson, senior vice president of club operations for Minnesota-based Life Time. The company took the opportunity to invest in the infrastructure of its clubs, improving plumbing, heating and lighting.

They also consulted with experts and public health officials to develop a 400-page manual on safety measures to prevent transmission of the virus. “We did everything we could to make the members feel safe and comfortable, and that helped us recover,” says Larson. As capacity restrictions fluctuated, clubs across the state adapted by spacing out equipment, adding outdoor classes, lending members workout gear for home use and requiring pre-registration for in-person workouts.

The big chains have weathered closures and capacity restrictions better than many independent clubs or mom-and-pop studios. Those who were ultimately unsuccessful gave away members and instructors that the big clubs were only too happy to recruit.

Lucky Shots Pickleball Club
Lucky Shots Pickleball Club


Minnesota Hot Fitness Trends


New Lucky Shots Pickleball Club in northeast Minneapolis at the new Life Time pickleball center in Bloomington, the options abound to participate in this The Economist nicknamed the “the fastest growing sport in America.”

Hybrid fitness

Even after Alchemy 365 resumed in-person classes, member Andrea Leet loved having the option to augment her studio workouts with digital classes from the gym’s on-demand library. “The online platform is very easy to use and extremely accessible on the go,” says Leet. Industry experts predict that many fitness enthusiasts will continue to combine the benefits of in-person and online classes.

Functional training

Life Time’s Steve Larson predicts a growing demand for functional training, exercises that use multiple muscle groups with an emphasis on core strength and stability. “We still offer cardio static options like treadmills and bikes, but a lot of people are moving towards functional, personal and small group training. We’re building more dedicated spaces for people who want that kind of coaching. »

Fitness club chain Alchemy 465 offers virtual workouts
Fitness club chain Alchemy 465 offers virtual workouts

Jmark Photography

The rise of virtual fitness classes

There are a lot of people who don’t see themselves going back to the gym anytime soon. “At the start of the pandemic, I was a person who thought I needed the gym to exercise,” says James Rodríguez, a theater artist based in Minneapolis. When the clubs closed, he converted his spare bedroom into a home gym and signed up for a fitness class subscription service called Alo moves.

“I love that the app has tons of different classes on demand, so it’s hard to get bored with my workout. I’m definitely a convert. Not saying I’ll never go back to a gym But for now, I’m very happy with my situation,” says Rodríguez.


Life Time already had a digital presence before the pandemic, but the mandatory shutdowns forced the company to accelerate and expand its “omnichannel experience,” allowing members to engage with trainers and instructors from home. He found that members preferred live classes over on-demand options. “People missed the energy of the club, and even from home they wanted to feel like they were part of a live experience,” says Larson.

Life Time now offers hundreds of online courses across four time zones. “People might find an instructor they like in another state. Now they can take lessons with their favorite instructor, wherever they are,” says Larson.

Alchemy 365, a chain of fitness clubs based in Minnesota and Colorado, has also looked into online offerings. Member Michele Hossle used the channel’s app to stay active as the pandemic continued. “The online classes were live, which gave me a reason to show up and not procrastinate. And they had us comment on the live stream so the instructors could cheer us on by our very name. if we weren’t in the same room,” she says.

Sam (front) and Noel Sweeney
Sam (front) and Noel Sweeney


Fitness influencers are the new trainers

Fitness influencer Kristin Rowell (@mngoldengirl) became a functional nutrition therapy practitioner to help people feel good about themselves and look good in their lives. She uses her social media reach, including over 6,000 followers on Instagram, to achieve this. “The benefit of having a social media presence is that people get to know you, like you, and trust you, and you have a lot more humans you can reach,” Rowell says.

She uses her platform to shine a light on customer stories, share before and after images and “educate, inspire and motivate”. It is also a way for her to reach new potential customers. “What makes people want to reach out is seeing another client’s success and thinking, ‘If she can do this, then I can do this.’ I build inherent trust with my followers by communicating with them and showing them what is possible.

Minnesota’s Top Fitness Influencers

Jill Christine (@JillChristineFit)

Instagram Followers: 402k

Best for: Education and Empowerment

Greg Jennings (@theofficialgj)

Instagram Followers: 47.5k

Best for: Mindset, faith and positivity

sat (@mrs.sweendogg) & Noel Sweeney (@mr.sweendogg)

Instagram Followers: 754k and 21.8k, respectively

Best for: Workout Ideas, Inspiration & Fitness Goals