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Monday, May 20, 2024

COVID Surge May Stall Gym Industry’s Comeback

Planet-fitness
William Bretzger-USA TODAY NETWORK/Design: John Regula

The Omicron spike in COVID cases could spoil a pre-pandemic certainty for the gym industry: members flooding in to start on fitness-related New Year’s resolutions. 

The seven-day moving average of COVID cases cataloged by the CDC is at its highest point since January 2021. Business tracking firm Placer.ai said gym visits trended upward between Thanksgiving and the first week of December compared to 2019, but recent preliminary data has shown a dropoff in foot traffic.

While the recovery of brick-and-mortar gyms has been slow, it’s better than the doldrums of early in the pandemic.

Gym Rebound Threatened 

  • Planet Fitness, the nation’s largest publicly traded gym company, has seen revenues surge and is back in expansion mode, adding as many as 120 locations by year’s end. Its stock is up 60% from March 2020. 
  • Globally, gyms, studios, and in-person fitness classes saw a 37% revenue decline in 2020, per the Global Wellness Institute. GWI projected consumer spending on physical activities — which includes fitness facilities — to reach $907.7 billion in 2022, surpassing 2019. 
  • Crunch Fitness opened its 400th location in November, and visits to existing gyms have increased 63% from September 2020 to October 2021, per Placer.ai.

Mask mandates have been brought back in several jurisdictions, but the industry doesn’t expect anything close to the dramatic drop that ravaged fitness facilities in 2020.

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