Exercise excuses: Here are the top reasons people say they can’t hit their fitness goals

NEW YORK — The ongoing impact of COVID-19 is putting many people’s workout routines on permanent vacation. Eight in 10 Americans agree that the pandemic ruined their motivation to go to the gym or work out regularly.

A new study of 2,000 adults finds that for 61 percent, pandemic-related restrictions at local gyms such as mask requirements made working out less comfortable. Another 53 percent blame gym closures during lockdowns for falling behind on fitness. The same amount say they’ve simply gotten used to a more sedentary lifestyle.

Overall, 67 percent tend to put off exercise, with millennials the most likely to do so (73%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Les Mills ahead of National Fitness Day, researchers also looked into the reasons that 48 percent have felt deterred from reaching their fitness goals.

Top fitness hurdles

Some people cite concerns such as getting stuck with a pricey membership for a gym they don’t like (42%), being too embarrassed to ask the staff for assistance (36%), and comparing themselves to fitness influencers or bloggers (36%).

Health issues also prevented 51 percent from doing most exercises, while 47 percent don’t have anyone to look after their kids while they’re at the gym. Meanwhile, the same amount don’t know where to begin their fitness journey.

For Gen Z respondents, lack of time is the top reason for putting off exercise (64%). Millennials mostly blame health issues (53%) and Gen Xers are simply unsure where to start (47%).

“The pandemic has impacted the workout habits of many, affecting not only where they exercise but also how often,” says Sean Turner, CEO of Les Mills US, in a statement. “On average, respondents shared they spend 49 percent of the time exercising in the gym and 23 percent of the time outside of the gym.”

America’s 2022 gym goals

When asked what areas of fitness they’d like to focus on improving this year, strength training (40%) and cardiovascular health (26%) are top of mind among those polled.

To help them feel more confident at the gym, 43 percent would like to be able to take classes with others of a similar level, while 39 percent say having access to instructions for the equipment and watching fitness videos at home before heading to the gym are confidence boosters.

Thirty-seven percent feel the most confident when working out in a group, and 34 percent prefer exercising alone or one-on-one with a personal trainer.

“There are different paths to fitness confidence, depending on people’s preferences and where they are in their journey,” Turner says. “It’s important for gyms to meet people where they are, whether by dialing up the community and social aspects of group classes, or helping people to find their feet and build confidence through solo sessions and support via a club app.”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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