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Adapting and Advancing - How 2020 Changed Us All

At the end of the gauntlet that has been this year, there seems to be a surge of anticipation, the tense moment that comes before the starter’s gun, that we’re all feeling right now. Very few, if any, are sad to see this year draw to a close, and the anxiousness to “get on with it” in 2021 is palpable.

Before the 2021 race begins, it’s important to note that we’re all racing on a new track, with new distances, different turns, and new rules. Pandemic safety requirements have shifted our environments, new workplace and school norms have emerged both by choice and by force, and reservations, in all forms, are prevalent in everything we do. The losses of 2020 are not to be trivialized, and many frustrations are carrying forward into the new year. But pivoting and adaptability are also coming with us, and we see hope on the near horizon.

Prioritizing Public Health
The focus on fitness and health shifted into high gear this year, yet access to facilities became challenging. Mega-gatherings in gyms for group cardio classes gave way to virtual classes and a home fitness equipment boom. Athletic training in schools shifted away from team training to small groups, to ZOOM calls, and finding creative ways to train outside,leaving it up to the athletes to get their training homework done on their own.

Workplace wellness became vital for physical and mental health, keeping working environments safe even though people weren’t in the office as much (or at all). Active Aging and Senior Living communities closed their doors to visitors in an abundance of caution, with the safety of residents being paramount.

Though fitness and health became the nation’s (and the world’s) focus, access to public fitness facilities was cut off for a time, forcing innovation and adaptation where possible. It’s become the norm to see athletes doing workouts with team members via ZOOM, each in their own space. In-room mobility exercises were shared via video or text in Senior Living communities where sedentary hours are extremely harmful. Hotels converted empty rooms into private fitness spaces. Reservation systems began popping up in fitness facilities to ensure safe, distanced workout options.

The Rise of Creativity
In 2020, everybody and everything shifted. For those involved in fitness activities, technology became a bigger factor in being able to share programming. Home fitness training options, equipment and accessories became the “plan B” for many who had always had a fitness center to frequent.

For community fitness providers, it has been time to rethink, adapt and refresh the approach. Redoing fitness floor layouts was a first step to ensure safe social distancing for patrons, as well as adding virtual fitness options that residents could use at home. With doors closed or capacity limited, many facilities took the opportunity to refurbish to create safer, more advanced environments, ready to welcome groups back with intriguing new options. Even more have expanded fitness options to include outdoor fitness equipment, where social distancing is easier and space is less constrained.

Alongside safety considerations, creative allocation of equipment and space are vital to preserving access to fitness facilities. New processes for reserving equipment, pool or gym time have been highly useful, and sanitization processes between each use are now standard. New equipment requests include temperature check units, single use face masks, antibacterial wipes, plexiglass barriers, and even air filter systems, alongside the latest cardio and strength training options.

“We’ve helped facilities all over the country add temp check, wipes and other necessities to their fitness facilities, so that safe access to fitness options can be maintained,” said Bruce Schlagel, vice president of sales at Advanced Exercise. “From installing antimicrobial flooring to changing fitness equipment layouts for safer distancing to building versatile outdoor gyms, the support our team provides to clients has expanded this year to include public health and safety considerations across the board while creatively allowing access to essential fitness options.”

Shortages and Strengths
It’s not just toilet paper that has been in short supply due to the pandemic. The supply chain in every industry continues to struggle to catch up from closures this year. We’re not out of the woods on shortage challenges yet, and that has spurred frustrations, price fluctuations and work-arounds that are ongoing.

Companies like Advanced Exercise are trying to pre-purchase inventory to ensure that clients have guaranteed product available, sourcing equipment and products from multiple manufacturers instead of being beholden to a single source. “Essential items and certain manufactured products have been stalled due to supply chain delays this year,” confirmed Schlagel. “We’re checking on orders daily and tracking every element to make sure that projects get completed in as timely a manner as possible, but some things are outside our control.”

Having multiple sources for inventory is definitely a strength when supply lines are running thin. In Advanced Exercise’s case, the company is not only pre-purchasing certain inventory items, but also securing full containers of necessary staples like anti-bacterial wipes, knowing that supplies can be scarce as need grows. “One of the strengths of our business is versatility, the ability to work across multiple brands to get clients what they need,” added Schlagel. “We know that there will be tremendous need for reliable sanitization products, so we have secured anti-bacterial wipes for our customers in bulk. We’re planning ahead for the re-energized openings that we see coming in 2021.”

Many businesses, especially those in the fitness industry, are looking forward to 2021 with hope and the desire to help communities safely re-engage in group gatherings. The new year is always a time when fitness resolutions are a focus, and those resolutions and routines have never been more important to keep communities healthy with accessible fitness resources.

We all hope that as we end this year together, all of you are moving forward with optimism and hope for the future. We know that our challenges won’t disappear on January 1, but challenge can become opportunity for creative, innovative change. We’re here with you, and ready to help.

About Advanced Exercise
Founded in 1986, Advanced Exercise is a leading fitness equipment and facility design resource, combining more than 30 years of design expertise with access to top fitness, wellness and recreation equipment brands to help clients create fitness experiences specific to the needs of their distinct communities. Advanced Exercise fitness consultants work with clients to maximize the use of available space in any facility, sourcing the best new or used equipment solutions for diverse ranges of fitness amenity end users. For more information on fitness equipment and facility design services, visit or call 800-520-1112 to connect with one of Advanced Exercise’s experts.

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