When it comes to fitness and health, the majority of Americans consider exercise to be some level of priority. 

However, with the restrictions and lockdowns this year, fitness has seen some ups and downs. What will the next few months of exercise look like, as Americans prepare for a COVID-era winter? 

To understand this, it’s important to look at the monthly cadence of exercise interest from pre-pandemic to now. During the lockdowns earlier this year, exercise saw a dramatic increase. However, as restrictions eased, exercise interest returned to almost pre-pandemic levels. November data show 40% of U.S. adults are exercising several times a week.

Public Gym vs. Home Gym

Unsurprisingly, public gym usage has dropped since the pandemic began. In January, 61% of U.S. adults said they “never” use a public gym. Now, 68% say the same. It’s worth noting that income and gym usage have a strong overlap, with high-income users being the most likely to currently workout in a gym, and low-income users following close behind. The high rate of low-income gym users could be due in part to lower-income adults having less space to workout at home. Another reason could be a monthly membership payment is easier to afford than large pieces of at-home equipment.

Since our last check-in, new owners of at-home gym equipment have risen even more. In the last 30 days, 25% of U.S. adults were the owners of new exercise equipment. That said, income still plays a role, with high-income earners once again being the most likely to outfit their homes with exercise equipment. This may not be surprising, but it does emphasize the access gap that exists for those looking to workout with equipment–whether in a gym or in their home. 

Fitness Apps Staying Relevant? 

In our last fitness report, 24% of U.S. adults who use fitness apps were using them more as a result of the spread of COVID-19. However, in the last 30 days, the number of fitness app users who have increased usage dropped to 18%.

As the weather changes and the pandemic continues, Americans are still finding time for fitness. However, given the way exercise soared during the lockdowns in the spring, the data suggests that another lockdown could push exercise back to the forefront of many minds.