Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The pandemic-enforced lockdown that led to a boom in virtual fitness activities is here to stay.

Why it matters: Remote fitness can allow more people access to high-quality teachers and classes. But with gyms likely to be one of the last businesses allowed to reopen during the pandemic, neighborhood fitness studios could be in trouble.

What's happening: On Monday, the athleisure company Lululemon announced it was purchasing the connected fitness company Mirror for $500 million.

  • Mirror, which sells a $1,495 wall-mounted screen used for streaming workout classes, is one of a number of remote fitness companies that have boomed as the pandemic kept gym rats at home.
  • Peloton's stock has risen more than 200% since the first stay-at-home orders were issued in mid-March.

While the rise of at-home fitness is at least partially driven by the fact that exercisers had no other option, there is evidence many will continue to work out at home even with gyms reopening in some parts of the U.S.

  • A survey this week of 2,000 Americans who exercise regularly found a quarter of them say they plan on never returning to the gym, while a third will go less often than before.
  • Gyms that do reopen will likely need to restrict capacity and install safety measures, pinching their bottom line. "It's going to be a challenging time for gyms and boutique studios," says Marshall Porter, the CEO of corporate wellness platform Gympass.

Be smart: Porter believes fitness in the coronavirus age will end up in the same place as work and education: hybridized, with services offered both in person and online.

  • This week, Gympass announced an expansion of its platform offerings, increasing access to on-demand streaming fitness classes and remote personal coaching, along with online therapy sessions.
  • "The future will be about meeting the customer where they are, whether that's at home or elsewhere," says Porter.

The bottom line: Given the resurgence of the pandemic, your long-delayed Peloton order is likely to arrive before your gym fully reopens.

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Updated 18 hours ago - Health

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