ihmisiä kuntosalilla

The deployment of online sports and wellbeing services during the pandemic


All the reasons that keep us from moving are excuses, said the former Finnish president Urho Kaleva Kekkonen already in 1977

How the yoga studio Joogahymy did it and what challenges municipalities should overcome to provide accessible online sports and wellbeing services to their residents

In Finland municipalities have the task to promote the wellbeing of residents. COVID-19 pandemic challenged the provision of sports and wellbeing services by Finnish municipalities. The two-year experience of the pandemic proves now that digital services can offer completely new ways to promote people’s wellbeing.

Studies have found that the pandemic has significantly reduced exercise activity among almost all age groups (Kantomaa 2020, 4). With hindsight, it would have been important to make digital exercise services available to people more quickly. If already at the start of the pandemic, private and municipal service providers had been able to quickly produce digital exercise services, could it have prevented a decrease in physical activity?

But how exactly has the pandemic affected sports and wellbeing service providers?

Joogahymy is a small, warm-hearted yoga studio located in Nokia. As the corona pandemic started, the company had to find out, like many others, how to run business in exceptional circumstances. Taking advantage of digitalization was a viable solution for them. The entrepreneur Pekko Vuorela from Joogahymy tells in the video interview how they managed to build digital yoga services soon after the outbreak of the pandemic. He says that there are many things to consider when starting an online service, for example, the equipment, payments, and internet speed. He also points out that it requires discipline from the customers to follow instructions on the screen. Vuorela’s background in media business helped the online step as did a special kind of attitude.

– For us, getting into online services has really been a lifesaver!, states Vuorela.

What challenges should municipalities consider when providing accessible online sports and wellbeing services?

Key municipal sports services closed their doors various times during the pandemic. Restrictions have had a significant impact on the offering as well as the development of remote services offered by businesses in the sports sector. However, in many municipalities, this supply has not been clearly displayed. Different companies that operate in the municipal sector are important for the vitality of the municipality. Thus, in the future, health and welfare coordinators and other municipal actors could cooperate more with the local service providers.

The different resources of the population in digitalization are obviously one challenge. For example, all people may not have the adequate skills, facilities, or tools to do the physical activity they wish. Everyone may not have suitable IT equipment or internet connections that would allow participation in remote exercise. Also, the costs of these services may be too high for many people.

These are the challenges that municipal operators should also consider in the future, to make the benefits of the digital services available to the general population. To summarize and update the former Finnish President Kekkonen’s comment, accessible digital sports and wellbeing services would further minimize all excuses for not moving.

To see how the output of digitalization works, here is a free yoga video produced by Joogahymy:

Noora Kaipola
Anne Karimäki
Niina Meronen
Hanna-Kaisa Piirto
Students of Health and Welfare Coordinator Master’s Degree Programme at Savonia UAS

Sanna Savela, Senior Lecturer in Languages, Savonia UAS

Vuorela, Pekko 2022. Yoga-teacher. Joogahymy. Interview 13.2.2022.

Kekkonen Urho Kaleva 1977. Yle Areena 2014. Presidentin päivä. Presidentti Urho Kekkosen henkilökuva ja työtehtävät yhden päivän aikana. (16.2.1977) https://areena.yle.fi/1-50141951. Accessed on 11.2.2022.

Kantomaa, Marko (toim.) 2020. Koronapandemian vaikutukset väestön liikuntaan. Koronapandemian vaikutukset väestön liikuntaan – Valtion liikuntaneuvoston julkaisuja 2020:2