Friday, 18 December 2020 15:32

Gyms, fitness centers in trouble because of lockdowns, surveys find

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Gyms, fitness centers in trouble because of lockdowns, surveys find Pixabay

RALEIGH — About 25% of gyms in the U.S. will close by year’s end, a new study shows. 


The global pandemic is the biggest disruption the fitness industry has ever faced, writes Nick Rizzo of RunRepeat, which specializes in shoes for athletes and studies the fitness industry.

It’s also estimated the gym and health club industry lost $13.9 billion from mid-March to Aug 31, according to data compiled by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association.

Gov. Roy Cooper closed gyms in March but allowed them to reopen at limited capacity several months later. Masks are required, even while working out, according to his executive order.

Suppressive business lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in response to the pandemic is killing the fitness industry, fitness experts say. More than 38,000 gyms and health clubs in the U.S. have been closed because of the virus as of May 2020, Harrison Co., a consumer-focused investment bank, says in a study.

“The difficult economic circumstances currently faced by gyms and health clubs will not disappear once the crisis ends,” said Paul Byrne, a partner at Harrison Co., told businesswire. “Once stay-at-home guidelines are lifted, consumers will continue to work out at home in numbers far beyond anything we saw prior to the crisis.”

Some 500,000 gym industry employees have been laid off because of COVID-19, Harrison finds, as more people have decided to work out at home.

Americans had invested an average of $95.79 for at-home fitness as of spring 2020,  Freeletics reports, and, says Visual Capitalist, 60% of gym members working out at home workouts plan to cancel their gym memberships.

Gyms that filed for bankruptcy, Business Insider reports, include Cyc Fitness, YogaWorks, Flywheel Sports, Town Sports International, 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and Modell’s Sporting Goods.

Attitudes toward exercise have changed, RunRepeat’s Rizzo writes. More than 72.14% of gym members worldwide who used the gym as their primary form of fitness at the start of 2020 will be exercising differently in 2021, choosing home-fitness options or switching to running, cycling, hiking, or walking.

“It was previously known that many gym members rarely frequented their own gyms and that many gym members were switching their form of exercise in 2021,” Rizzo writes. “But now, nearly 75% of avid gyms are switching, with almost 40% of them going to gyms’ direct competitor, their own house.”

Businesses such as Peloton, which makes stationary bikes, are thriving, with sales nearly quadrupling since 2018, J.P Morgan and the Wall Street Journal find. Peloton, says Statista, is estimated to make about $1.8 billion in sales for 2020.

People may, in fact, be exercising more, despite the restrictions on gyms, RunRepeat finds. There’s been an 88% average increase in exercise for people who normally exercise one or two times per week, the company found. 

Still, IHRSA found, 50% of Americans say that they are less active during the pandemic-related shutdowns.