10 Facts on how bad COVID Was for the Fitness Industry

COVID impacted every part of the world, but especially industries like the fitness industry. Just how bad was COVID-19 for your local gym?

Key Statistics about COVID 19 Pandemic

  1. Nearly 60% of US gym membership holders are considering canceling.
  2. Post COVID-19, 59% of Americans have not renewed their gym memberships.
  3. 59% of lifetime gym membership holders will not renew their gym memberships.
  4. According to the NHFA, a whopping 22% of American gyms have closed down post COVID-19 pandemic, reportedly costing the industry $29 billion in lost revenue.
  5. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of US gym-goers worked out at home for the first time.
  6. 500,000 people have been laid-off due to more than 38,000 fitness club closures.
  7. 54% of US gym membership holders purchased home gym fitness equipment for the very first time.
  8. During the COVID-19 lockdown, 74% of Americans tried and purchased a fitness app.
  9. The home fitness industry has boomed, with revenue increasing by as much as 23% during the pandemic as people continue to set up home gyms and utilize online fitness apps.
  10. In the latter half of 2020, the fitness studio app industry increased its revenue by 50%. (1) (2)

Chapter 1: How did Covid-19 Impact Fitness Clubs

The pandemic has had devastating effects on the health and fitness industry, forcing thousands of fitness facilities and gym closures. Health clubs have been hit in the hip pocket with a massive decrease in gym memberships and tremendous job loss. Instead of packing their bag and heading to the gym, many people have now begun to work out from home, investing in often expensive pieces of home fitness gym equipment.

The combination of a reduction in gym memberships and the fact more gym-goers are now working out at home has significantly impacted gym owners’ bottom lines. Many gym owners were quickly forced to close their businesses as the costs of running their gyms were far outweighed by the heavy losses caused by the lockdowns.

1. According to the NHFA, a whopping 22% of American gyms have closed down post COVID-19 pandemic, reportedly costing the industry $29 billion in lost revenue.

One of the most devasting effects the global pandemic and the draconian lockdowns had on the fitness industry was the forced closure of gyms and fitness centers. 22% of fitness studios, health clubs, and boutique fitness studios were forced to permanently close their doors. The decline in gym members simply meant the revenue was no longer there to support gym owners and health clubs.

2. 500,000 people have been laid-off due to more than 38,000 fitness club closures.

Do you know someone who worked in the fitness industry and lost their job due to covid-19? I certainly do. As a matter of fact, some experts estimate that close to 500,000 Americans were laid off from their positions within the physical health and public health sectors. Having spent my career in the sports sector, I hope that the industry can bounce back and once again provide a stable career for those 500,000 who unfortunately lost their jobs.

3. 54% of US gym membership holders purchased home gym fitness equipment for the very first time.

One positive for the fitness industry was that as many health clubs were forced to close, gym members began to purchase home gym fitness equipment at record rates. According to some numbers, as many as 54% of American gym members purchased a piece of home gym equipment for the very first time. Weightlifting equipment like benches, squat racks, and barbells flew out the door, as did cardio equipment like stationary bikes, treadmills, and indoor rowers.

4. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of US gym-goers worked out at home for the first time.

I have always worked out from home, but since the pandemic, I’ve been joined by another 40% of gym members who either had no choice or made the decision to not renew their memberships and instead embraced home workouts. There are many advantages to working out from home, such as time flexibility, convenience, lower costs associated with memberships, and travel to and from health clubs. (3) (4)

Chapter 2: Covid-19 Exercise Habits Changes

Covid-19 was and, in many cases, is still deeply affecting the habits of passionate gym-goers worldwide. Whether it’s been gym closures, having to work from home, or the paralyzing fear of becoming infected many fitness buffs have had to rethink their entire fitness strategy. For most in the fitness industry, physical inactivity is not an option leading many to modify their exercise behaviors by purchasing online classes and home gym equipment.

5. Nearly 60% of US gym membership holders are considering canceling.

When you think that 60% of gym members are considering canceling or not renewing their membership, things don’t look great for the future of health clubs and boutique fitness studios. My wife was one of the 60% who canceled their membership. In her case, her health club (a well-known global chain) significantly restricted and limited their opening times, meaning many gym members were simply unable to make it to the gym.

6. Post COVID-19, 59% of Americans have not renewed their gym memberships.

To be honest, this number is not surprising, especially when you take into consideration factors like gym closures and many people now working from home. The uncertainty around whether or not health clubs and fitness centers will reopen has also forced many gym-goers to change their exercise behavior and adopt home workouts. The impact on mental health has also negatively impacted people living healthy lifestyle.

7. 59% of lifetime gym membership holders will cancel their gym memberships.

Unlike the statistic above, this number does come as a surprise to me and could spell disaster for the long-term future of the fitness industry. Of those people, who hold “lifetime” gym memberships, a whopping 59% of them have said they will cancel their memberships and ask for a refund. This means that these gym membership holders will not be going to be back in the gym, rather, they’ll be working out from home by taking advantage of things like online classes and fitness apps. (5) (6)

Chapter 3: COVID Online vs Physical fitness industry

What can fitness consumers do when they no longer have a physical gym to attend because it’s been forced to close due to the global pandemic? Well, I’ll tell you what they do; they embrace the online fitness industry. Even by the end of 2020, fitness studio app revenue saw a dramatic uptick in sales along with the already continuing boom in the home fitness industry.

8. In the latter half of 2020, the fitness studio app industry increased its revenue by 50%.

I am one of the countless numbers of fitness consumers that have contributed to the growth in revenue and sales of fitness apps since the pandemic hit. In my case, I purchased a rather expensive indoor bike trainer, which requires an app to use it. Simply put, no app, no bike trainer. It’s no wonder the fitness studio app industry has it increased its revenue by 50%.

9. The home fitness industry has boomed, with revenue increasing by as much as 23% during the pandemic as people continue to set up home gyms and utilize online fitness apps.

One positive to come out of all the carnage left by the covid-19 pandemic is the boost in revenue to the home fitness industry. Through no choice of their own many gym-goers were forced to cancel their gym memberships and invest their hard-earned cash in home workout equipment. And, if you ever purchased any piece of high-quality home fitness equipment, you know they’re not cheap. Many pieces like stationary bikes and indoor rowers can cost thousands of dollars, with even good squat racks setting you back upwards of $1000.00.

10. During the COVID-19 lockdown, 74% of Americans tried and purchased a fitness app.

Again this is a knock-on from the unfortunate closure of so many health clubs and fitness clubs. The fitness landscape permanently changed exercise behavior, with many consumers purchasing fitness apps for the very first time, There are a wide variety of apps ranging from high-intensity interval training to yoga and injury prevention and recovery. (7)

Frequently Asked Questions

How did COVID-19 affect your fitness level?

Results published in a study by the National Institutes of Health showed that COVID-19 was directly linked to reduced mobility, and walking and negatively impacted people’s functional movement., The study also showed that COVID-19 increased sedentary lifestyles. Some studies have contradicted this by showing there were increases in park use and hiking trails.

Is there a correlation between fitness and COVID?

The majority of studies have shown that a regular exercise routine could provide protection against covid 19. Daily bouts of moderate exercise are well-known to improve lung function, boost cardiovascular health, and strengthen the immune system. Furthermore, regular exercise reduces the chance of developing serious health conditions such as diabetes and obesity. (8)

How does physical fitness affect health during the COVID-19 pandemic?

There have been numerous studies that have shown a positive connection between physical activity and disease reduction. Regular exercise has multiple health benefits, such as reducing illness and strengthening bones and muscles, and boosting cardiovascular health. Additionally, exercise has cognitive health benefits such as reducing stress and anxiety and improving short and long-term memory (9)

What are the odds of getting COVID at the gym?

A study conducted by the University of Oslo has concluded no cases of covid 19 linked to fitness clubs and gymnasiums. The study looked at 3.764 gym members who were deemed healthy and were not at no risk of contracting covid 19.

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https://www.ihrsa.org/industry-leadership/covid-data-research-for-health-clubs/#

https://www.ihrsa.org/improve-your-club/industry-news/research-shows-health-clubs-are-safer-than-you-think/#

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1110985/covid-exercise-habits/

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1244724/fitness-industry-covid-impact/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.590172/full

https://akjournals.com/view/journals/204/44/4/article-p477.xml

https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/8265/2022-fitness-trends-and-statistics-state-of-the-industry/

Park, A. H., Zhong, S., Yang, H., Jeong, J., & Lee, C. (2022). Impact of COVID-19 on physical activity: A rapid review. Journal of global health, 12, 05003. https://doi.org/10.7189/jogh.12.05003

Castoldi, R.C., de Γ‚ngelo, J.C., Pereira, T.T. et al. Relationship between physical exercise and COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2): systematic review. Sport Sci Health 19, 55–67 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11332-022-01028-6

Contributors

Brenton Barker

Brenton Barker | Writer

Brenton is a highly qualified sports coach with over 20 years of experience working with professional athletes. With a degree in sports coaching and experience in prominent positions, including Head Advisor to the Japanese Government Sports Institute and Manager & Head Coach to Australia's Governing Sporting Body. Currently, he consults with several professional athletes and sporting organizations, sharing his expertise to help them reach their full potential.

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