Last March, at the very start of the Covid-19 crisis, Marc returned to sport with great determination. To occupy the time that this aeronautical executive in the Toulouse region had found, during a teleworked confinement.
“I organized myself for three exercise sessions per week, with my two children, in the house or in the garden, he says. It was fun and fun. I almost kept the pace, until the holidays. But at the start of the school year, the routine returned, and then the second confinement sawed off my legs. The professional future is dark, we can no longer see the end of the tunnel, so sport, I admit that the spirit is no longer there… ”
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How many are they, these French who swelled the ranks of the new “home athletes” last spring, but who have since dropped the case? No study really measures it. The first confinement seems to have had an impact on sports practice in general.
In the annual barometer that the Ipsos institute has been carrying out for ten years for the French Federation of Physical Education and Voluntary Gymnastics (FFEPGV), and which measures the development of sport and health in France, 81% of people questioned last December ( 1) declared a sporting activity, an increase of 17% compared to 2019. But at the same time, 67% assured that the health crisis hampered their practice. The fault, no doubt, with the closing of the sports halls. But the atmosphere, sealed since the second confinement, is also partly responsible.
Mental weariness in the fall
“At the start of the school year, in our clubs, we felt a real desire to rediscover social ties and a shared practice, indicates Patricia Morel, the president of the FFEPGV. But we also then noted the difficulty of staying motivated with a virus that disrupts gambling in the long term. We have therefore worked to develop three new exercise programs on well-being, vitality and tonicity that we are launching from January 25 via our site to allow our licensees to find energy. “
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The difficulty in relaunching the machine, is also observed by Pierre Daube, head of communication for the company Ownsport, which today brings together more than 7,000 home coaches. “The phenomenon of sport at home on the first confinement is a bit like the good resolutions at the start of the year, he comments. Most people didn’t hang in there. We have felt it in our activity, which has been slowly restarting since last November, but because the theaters are closed. Commitments for six months or for the year are rare. We record a lot of practice sessions, but without follow-up. “
Is this brake on the side of equipment manufacturers, who had benefited from the boom in sales of floor mats and other dumbbells in the spring of 2020? “Providing trends is very complex as the market in 2020 has been chaotic, explains Virgile Caillet, the general delegate of Union sport & cycle, the leading professional organization in the sports sector. But overall, a certain mental weariness which induces a physical weariness is essential, especially as the winter conditions do not help a pleasant practice, even at home. Sedentary lifestyle is once again gaining ground, and that’s bad news. “
A new audience for online sport
Back to square one ? Not entirely. Online coaching offers, free tutorials on the Internet, flourished with the first lockdown. Users had to learn to orient themselves in a labyrinth of proposals where jostled improvised “influencers”, coaches and seasoned professionals. But this “online sport” may well continue.
This is what Mickaël Pinto, one of the managers of the Neoness theaters network, wants to believe, which launched into the digital offer with Neoness Live in July 2020. “This new way of practicing obviously meets an audience that should grow as teleworking takes hold., he congratulates himself. 80% of Neoness Live users are new members with us, members in this case. They appreciate the service for its flexibility, its adaptation to the schedules of working mothers. Very many also tell us that they appreciate the fact of no longer having to put up with the gaze of others in the rooms. “ An interesting influence on female practice, the most delicate to promote. Online sport could at least trigger that trigger.
The alarm cry of sports halls
The reopening? By demonstrating in front of the National Assembly on Tuesday January 12, the representatives of the sports halls hardly demanded it any more. They hardly dare to hope for a clearing up at the end of March-beginning of April. On the other hand, they ask for additional state aid.
“The solidarity fund can be effective for small structures, but for networks with many employees, economic support is very insufficient”, emphasizes Virgile Caillet, the general delegate of the Union sport & cycle, which represents professionals in the sports industry. Four hundred theaters out of more than 10,000 have already closed, “But nearly 50% of the players risk filing for bankruptcy within six months”.