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Gym Classes Focus on New Fitness Goal: Rest

There’s a new trend at gym classes around the country. Americans emerging from more than two years of pandemic are looking for something new in their workouts: A good rest. Gyms say they are seeing increased demand for gentler classes, and they’re expanding their mellower offerings. They’re also rolling out dedicated “recovery” rooms equipped with massage lounge chairs and self-massage gadgets.

One participant said his workout reminds him of preschool nap time. He lies on a mat with pillows in a dimly lighted room and follows an instructor through a series of gentle stretches while calming music plays. Aptly named Surrender, the hourlong class in his Houston gym has been packed. The chain has increased the number of Surrender classes by an average of about 50% across its locations compared with 2019.

Months of stress and sweatpants have shifted priorities for gym-goers, with many saying they now care more about how they feel versus how they look. A recent survey of 16,000 Americans reported 43% are exercising to feel better and 59% to reduce stress. As one fitness expert said, “Leaving it all on the gym floor doesn’t seem like a priority as much.”

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