The Hot New Class at Your Gym? Resting

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:

Americans emerging exhausted and depleted 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 like yoga and meditation. They’re also rolling out dedicated “recovery” rooms equipped with massage lounge chairs and self-massage gadgets. 

Russ Frank’s evening workout reminds him of preschool nap time. He lies on a mat and 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, restorative yoga class has been packed since his Houston gym, part of the Life Time Group Holdings Inc. chain, reopened from the pandemic. The chain has increased the number of Surrender classes by an average of about 50% across its locations compared with 2019, it says.

“I always thought a workout required me to sweat,” says Mr. Frank. “Being still has its own benefits.”

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 from wellness app Mindbody reported 43% are exercising to feel better and 59% to reduce stress. The gentler offerings also provide an easier on-ramp for people who have gotten out of shape.

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