01.03.2021

Why 2020 Is the Year Gyms Become Cool Again

The boutique fitness boom has drawn people away from traditional gyms in the past decade. As fitness-lovers found their niche (Spin addicts and Pilates enthusiasts and kickboxers alike), they drifted away from ellipticals and locker rooms and into grapefruit-scented studios with SmartWater and designer bath products.

When was the last time you had a gym membership? Three years ago? Ten years ago? Never?

But the times, they are a-changin’! We predict that 2020 will be the year people start going back to the gym, whether it’s a franchise or local spot. Why? A few reasons: the gym you once knew is getting a major makeover in terms of services, and with new pricing options at gyms across the country, they’re more competitive than ever.

While we don’t anticipate those niche classes going away anytime soon (to the contrary!), we do think gyms will be on the upswing once again. The growth of the health and wellness industry isn’t slowing down, and if the insights ahead prove anything, it’s that there’s room at the table for everyone. Here’s why you’re likely to see plenty of new faces at the gym in the coming year.

Ever Wondered Why Gymnasts Are Covered Head to Toe With Chalk? Let Us Explain

It’s an image you’ve seen plenty of times before: just before beginning a routine, a gymnast dusts their hands with a white powdery substance. If you’ve ever been curious about what that powder is or why it’s used, we’ve got answers! Usually just referred to as “chalk,” the substance is crucial to helping top-tier gymnasts perform at their best.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 11: Artistic gymnast Courtney McGregor puts chalk on her hands during the NZOC New Zealand GymSports Announcement at Tri Star Gymnastics on May 11, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images for NZOC)

Gymnasts’ chalk is an inorganic salt, magnesium carbonate (chemical formula MgCO3). The most popular and visible form is the dusty powder you’re used to seeing during gymnastics meets, but it also can come in solid blocks or even liquid form. Essentially, the chalk is used for two main purposes. First, it absorbs the sweat off of gymnasts’ hands, helping them keep a better grip on apparatuses such as the parallel or uneven bars. Second, it actually decreases the friction between the hands and the apparatus, allowing gymnasts to move more smoothly on the bars and avoid friction-related injuries.

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As you might have noticed, gymnasts don’t just use chalk on their hands. For example, female gymnasts will often use chalk on their feet as well as their hands before performing a routine on the balance beam. Again, it’s much for the same reasons: to absorb sweat and assist with grip and movement. Using the substance is completely within the rules of gymnastics and is an expected part of most gymnasts’ performances.

Although most gymnasts stick to the traditional chalk powder, a few of them have more unusual choices to assist their grip. A 2012 Wall Street Journal article revealed one gymnast used honey mixed with chalk, while others have used golden syrup or, on one particularly unusual occasion, melted-down gummy bears. Surprisingly, those substances aren’t against the rules either, as long as it doesn’t leave a mess behind.

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