Breaking Down the Cozy Cardio Trend

Asian woman and Little girl practicing yoga from yoga online course via smart TV at home. Healthy lifestyle - cozy cardio at home.
By chayantorn -

As you have perused the various 2024 wellness trends pieces that abound in the first months of the year, it's likely that you have come across the concept of "cozy cardio" in one or more of those lists. Like a lot of recent self-care practices, this one started on TikTok and quickly became a viral sensation, with the original post garnering millions of views. 

Basically, cozy cardio is about movement that is both comfortable and more relaxed than an average workout. Whether it's performing a yoga video in the den or a treadmill stroll while listening to a podcast, what resonates with people is the idea that exercise doesn't need to be about... well... exertion. 

Related: The 5 Most Popular Fitness Classes in the US, Ranked

It's only gaining more popularity over time, so this breakdown will help you better understand cozy cardio and think about different ways to bring it into your own programs. 

What Is Cozy Cardio?

Fitness as a culture is constantly evolving, and cozy cardio appears to be an area that is most enticing to Generation Z. These folks are looking for more new-age fitness journeys, according to Riani Kenyon, behavioral analyst at Canvas8

Related: Gen Z Prefers a Hybrid Digital Fitness Experience

"Cozy cardio workouts have taken over TikTok and are showing people that exercise doesn’t have to be about blood, sweat and tears. Instead, it can include fluffy socks, iced coffee and a film," says Kenyon. "This fresh approach to exercise is allowing people to adopt a low-pressure, low-stakes way of getting their fitness fix."

It all started with TikTok user Hope Zukerbrow, whose video shows her enjoying soft candlelight, protein coffee and reality TV while walking on her treadmill; the rest is history! 

"By shifting the idea of exercise away from feeling like a form of punishment and toward an act of self-care that’s accessible and mindful, cozy cardio empowers fitness enthusiasts who may typically be excluded from high-impact exercise regimes," explains Kenyon.

Although plenty of fitness buffs are skeptical, the concept has merit. Studies have shown that even mild exercise has a positive impact on health, and in some cases just standing up more often made a difference for study participants. 

Kenyon suggests that cozy cardio might look like sipping a drink while walking with friends, or simply reading a book on the treadmill. "Cozy cardio is revolutionizing exercise culture by embracing comfort and warmth, and this seasonal approach to working out is reshaping the way many people view physical activity," she adds. "This trend has become so popular that Zuckerbrow started the Cozy Cardio Club, which focuses on mood and well-being rather than aesthetics or appearance."

Cozy Cardio in Wellness Programs

While this is all well and good for self-care at home, spas and wellness centers will have to think creatively to bring cozy cardio into their businesses. The good news is that some of your existing fitness offerings may just need to be tweaked to fit into the cozy cardio craze. 

If your spa offers yoga classes, consider including a more gentle stretch yoga class to the docket (this is my personal favorite). Include a couple more gentle movement classessuch as low-impact dance, tai chi and qigong—and you've got a cozy cardio menu going! 

In fact, I would argue that any mindful movement class that may not cause someone to break a sweat counts as cozy cardio. If that's already on your menu, then all you need to do is call it out. 

You can also bundle those low-impact offerings with meditation, either adding gentle yoga poses to your meditation offerings for those guests who may appreciate a little more movement in that setting. Or, bring some meditation into an existing fitness class.

Consider how clients will experience these offerings. Lighting, for instance, can really influence their comfort level. Warm lighting is best, and ideally not too bright. Similarly, any class that allows guests to wear comfy clothes is a candidate for cozy cardio. 

If you have a more traditional fitness center, provide reading material for guests using treadmills and similar equipment. Encourage them to bring their own headphones and playlists, too.  

Your spa is probably already offering healthy drinks and snacks in relaxation lounges, but what about your movement spaces? You won't want to bring food into a class, of course, but providing a little something afterward—off the flooris a fun self-care bonus that will make guests feel like VIPs. 

Ultimately, all of this will depend on your clientele and their specific needs. If your guests skew younger or use TikTok frequently, they will love it if you add cozy cardio to the menu. 

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