After enduring numerous closures during the early stages of the pandemic, the fitness industry has proven its resilience in recent years. This contributed to high hopes for the start of 2023 which delivered elevated visits as health and wellness remained a consumer priority. We dove into the visit metrics for the offline fitness space – and leading brands Planet Fitness and LA Fitness – to take a closer look at how the industry is faring nearly halfway into 2023.
No Rest in Sight
After many closures in the early days of the pandemic, the fitness industry has made significant gains, becoming one of 2022’s biggest winners – and the strength is continuing in 2023. The new year is typically a critical season for gym memberships and visits as consumers take on health-oriented resolutions. And January 2023 marked the first new year in recent memory that wasn’t dominated by COVID storylines which added to the foot traffic expectations.
Visits to gyms and health clubs in January 2023 were up 30.3% year-over-year (YoY) – an impressive start to the year, even if the bump was in part due to favorable comparisons to the Omicron-dominated period in 2022. Still, foot traffic in recent months continued to grow. In May 2023, YoY visits to the fitness category were up 7.8% compared to 2022, indicating that fitness is continuing to build on last year’s strong traffic.
A Brand-Specific Regimen
Zooming in on two of the industry’s leaders – LA Fitness and Planet Fitness – reveals some of the ways that fitness brands are finding success. In recent years, LA Fitness undertook concerted rightsizing efforts and rebranded a portion of its fleet as the Esporta chain, while in Q1 2023, Planet Fitness continued its expansion and shared expectations for approximately 175 new stores this year. So far in 2023, both strategies appear to be driving visits as LA Fitness and Planet Fitness sustained monthly YoY visit growth.
Analysis of YoY visits per venue provides a deeper understanding of how the brands’ respective brick-and-mortar strategies impacts their foot traffic. LA Fitness’s monthly YoY visit per venue growth indicates that after the chain closed venues, more gym-goers are flocking to the remaining locations. And while Planet Fitness saw YoY visits per venue dip slightly in May 2023, this likely has more to do with the brand’s expansion than any drop in demand. As Planet Fitness memberships continue to grow, new locations will likely fill with fresh traffic.
The kick-off of Planet Fitness’s High School Summer Pass – which grants free entrance to high school students – could drive visits to the chain in the near future. Meanwhile, the recent opening of an LA Fitness location in New Rochelle, NY may be a sign that the company has its sights set on future gym growth and that expansion is on the horizon.
Only Up From Here
After proving its resilience in the wake of the pandemic, 2023 is shaping up to be another successful year for the fitness industry. Leading brands continue to build on already strong foot traffic and find multiple ways to drive impressive growth.
For updates and more data-driven foot traffic insights, visit Placer.ai.