Leisure marketing and training experts, TA6, conducted a national fitness survey with over 4,000 responses via leisure operators on their social media channels. Around 1,000 of these respondents were aged over 55.

The survey gathered headline data on the feelings of the public towards exercise and fitness during and after COVID-19 lockdown, which will help leisure operators make informed decisions on re-opening their facilities.

Shapemaster’s analysis of responses from those over 55 offers reassurance to our leisure partners and to operators considering Shapemaster as a solution for attracting older exercisers. This follows our recent article Shapemaster is the Right Investment at the Right Time.

67% of adults aged over 55 said they exercised for more than 2 hours per week during pre-lockdown, whilst a further 22% reported exercising between 60 and 120 minutes.

As with all age groups, 59% of over 55s said that they had either maintained or increased their pre-COVID levels of exercise during lockdown, with the majority walking or doing home workouts.

In general, respondents had a slightly more positive attitude towards exercise as they got older.

39% of the older age group said they would exercise in a leisure centre/club after lockdown, with a further 47% saying they would exercise both in a club/leisure centre and at home, i.e., 86% of respondents aged over 55 said they will exercise in clubs or leisure centres after lockdown, which is good news for operators providing for the active ageing market. This matches the intention of all age groups to attend leisure centres post-COVID.

Around 10% of respondents across all age groups said they planned to exercise only at home after restrictions are eased: the TA6 survey shows no evidence that a greater number of older people would avoid leisure centres and stay at home.

There is a consistently strong message that members across all age groups intend to return to leisure centres, with a slight increase among those of working age saying they would combine their exercise activity in leisure centres with home-based workouts.

A small percentage of all ages said they will not continue to exercise after lockdown; however, this accounted for 10% of the 75+ age group. This therefore presents an opportunity to continue engaging the over 75s with home-based workouts until they feel confident to return. Still, 80% of over 75s indicated an intention to return to leisure centres.

Only 2% of respondents over 55 said they would not continue exercising after lockdown.

When asked about their amount of exercise after restrictions are lifted, 43% of over 55s said they would maintain current levels, whilst 49% said they would increase how much they exercise following the COVID-19 lockdown.

Respondents under 55 were more likely than older exercisers to decrease their amount of exercise after lockdown.

73% of older respondents said that lockdown has made them want to improve their fitness and wellbeing, which reinforces Shapemaster’s view that the over 55s will be keen to return to exercise. Interestingly, a higher percentage of over 75s expressed openness to buying a fitness membership after lockdown than younger ages, showing a competitive opportunity.

Of those keen to get back to exercising, the majority of over 55s were looking forward to returning to the gym (43%), swimming (41%) or group exercise classes (54%), whilst 35% selected the ‘Other’ response.

The TA6 national fitness survey shows that the older exercise market is as keen as younger members to return to leisure centres and to exercise in the post-COVID ‘new normal’. Shapemaster and TA6 are ready to support our customers with operating advice and messaging that will reassure their members that their suite will be COVID-secure and ready to welcome them back when the time is right.