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.

Go deeper

Oct 9, 2020 - Health

HCA to return $1.6 billion in coronavirus bailout funds

HCA's hospitals are closing the books on a profitable Q3, despite the pandemic. Photo: Rusty Russell/Getty Images

HCA Healthcare is giving back $1.6 billion of federal bailout payments and paying back $4.4 billion in Medicare loans early. The money was intended to help hospitals weather the pandemic as patients delayed elective care.

Why it matters: Over the summer, the hospital industry said the pandemic was resulting in "the greatest financial crisis we have ever faced in our history." But HCA expects to report higher revenue and adjusted profits in the third quarter.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Oct 9, 2020 - World

Europe's coronavirus case counts just keep climbing

Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Europe is now recording far more new coronavirus cases than ever before.

The big picture: One reason is testing. Deaths and hospitalizations remain far below the levels seen in the spring, though they continue to tick upward.

Updated Oct 8, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says he won't take part in virtual debate

Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images

President Trump, who continues to battle a coronavirus infection, told Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo on Thursday that he will not take part in a virtual second presidential debate, with his campaign later saying he would do two in person debates later on this month.

What he's saying: "I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. It’s not what debating is all about. ... It’s ridiculous," the president said.

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