Gyms were one of the first sectors to close among the spread of the pandemic, and rightfully so. But, as the economy begins to reopen across the country and gyms are permitted to open again, how will they perform? With most people working from home and creating their own “at-home” gyms, will the sector be able to bounce back?
We dug into the overall fitness space and some of the top gyms around the country to see just how well they’ve been performing thus far.
Return to Pre-COVID Levels?
As of the week of June 29th, the overall fitness industry was still down 49.6%. Although far from normal levels, this was still an improvement on the previous week when the sector was down 52.1%. In fact, the week of June 29th saw the best visit rates since March 2nd, when most of the country went into lockdown. While this is still far from “normalcy”, the steady increase in weekly visits since the beginning of June is a positive sign that a recovery is certainly en route for the overall fitness sector.
A Closer Look at the Brands
When we take a closer look at year-over-year weekly data for five specific fitness chains we see each showing weekly improvement. The week of June 29th generated the best performance since the chains were closed for the pandemic. And this was with the July 4th weekend and COVID resurgences hampering growth. Anytime Fitness saw numbers that were closest to normal levels with visits down just 26.7%. While this is only a slight increase from the previous week, it’s a leap forward since early June when visits were down over 40%. Planet Fitness is also inching back to normal levels, with visits down just 48.1% for the final week of June, a massive improvement from early June when visits were down 67.9%.
Critically, the regional distribution of these chains matters tremendously with certain locations being incredibly hard hit as they served a “workout after work” audience, college students, or another audience that is no longer present.
Yet, opportunities may exist for those who can survive the coming months. 24 Hour Fitness announced it would be closing nearly 100 locations across the country, and Gold’s Gym announced the closure of dozens of locations as well.
So who could fill this vacuum? Both brands had high levels of “cross-shopping” with Planet Fitness and LA Fitness - the number of people who visited both chains in the given time period. 12.3% of 24 Hour Fitness visitors and 16.9% of Gold’s Gym visitors had been to a Planet Fitness location since the start of 2019, very strong levels in an industry defined by longer-term memberships. LA Fitness was a clear second seeing 11.7% of 24 Hour Fitness visitors stop by a location and 8.1% of Gold’s Gym visitors do the same. Other potential beneficiaries included Orangetheory Fitness with overlaps of 7.9% and 3.9% and Cross-Fit which saw a visit overlap with both of over 4%. The result is an opportunity for these brands and others to fill the vacuum being left in order to drive short-term growth.
It’s no secret that as the economy reopens most places are seeing significant spikes in traffic as people are proving anxious to return to their normal routines. But, with a “new normal” and people adjusting to a different lifestyle, will gyms be able to recover to pre-pandemic levels, or will the shift in consumer behavior have a long-lasting effect on the fitness industry?
Check back with the Placer.ai blog to see how the fitness sector continues to progress.