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Fitness
Quarterly Index
2021: Q3

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Unsurprisingly, gyms are doing better than they were last year, but the sector is still far from a full recovery. The year-over-two-year visit gap shrunk slightly in Q3, with traditional seasonality and a rise in COVID concerns slowing down the pace of the fitness return. And while the recovery might be slow over the next quarter, fitness should not be written off yet, as several chains are showing the lingering power and pull of this sector. 

Analyzing dozens of brands including:

Yo2Y Visit Gap Slowly Narrowing

The year-over-two-year fitness visit gap was more than halved between Q1 and Q2, but in Q3 the visit gap only narrowed slightly, going from -11.9% in Q2 to -9.1% in Q3. Still, the fact that the visit gap narrowed at all despite the traditional seasonality of the sector and the rise in COVID concern is a testament to the staying power of gyms. 

"The fact that the visit gap narrowed at all despite the difficult Q3 conditions is a testament to the staying power of gyms."

-9.1%
Yo2Y Visit Gap Narrowed to -9.1%

Visits per Venue Drop, Median Visit Duration Rises

The drop in fitness visits cannot be attributed solely to gyms permanently closing due to COVID – foot traffic data indicates that the number of average visits per fitness venue is still below the 2019 threshold as well. But the median duration of visits has been rising compared to 2019, which may indicate that the pandemic has changed the way people exercise. Instead of relying on gyms for all their workouts, many exercisers may be visiting the gym less frequently for a longer workout, while complementing their fitness routines with at-home exercises started during the pandemic. This may indicate a wider omnichannel approach to fitness that could privilege specific types of fitness chains.

 

“The drop in visits per venue coupled with the rise in median visit duration may indicate that the pandemic has changed the way Americans exercise.”

+2.5%
Median Visit Duration Rises by 2.5%

Weekend Visits Slower to Recover

Like everywhere else, weekend visits have been growing slower than weekday visits. This may be another sign of the turn towards dedicating weekends for leisure, and may also be another indicator of the shift in exercise habits.The increase in weekday visits may also be attributed to the rise in staycations this past summer due to the ongoing travel restrictions.

“Like everywhere else, weekend visits have been growing slower than weekday visits.”

-11.6%
Yo2Y weekend fitness visits decreased by -11.6%

Fitness Growth Outliers

Despite the overall downturn in fitness visits, several chains saw significant year-over-two-year increases. Crunch Fitness saw the most dramatic growth, with visits increasing by 28.1% compared to Q3 2019. Workout Anytime, Planet Fitness, and Anytime Fitness also saw visit increases. The quarter-over-quarter visit decrease can be attributed to normal seasonality of the sector, and doesn’t take away from these brands’ accomplishments. 

 

“Several fitness chains nevertheless saw significant year-over-two-year increases in visits.”

+28.1%
Yo2Y visits to Crunch Fitness Increased by 28.1%

Summary

The year-over-two-year visit gap narrowed slightly in Q3, but traditional seasonality and a rise in COVID cases hampered the sector’s recovery. Foot traffic data indicates that exercises who did return are visiting gyms less frequently but staying longer each visit, indicating that the pandemic may have long-term impacts on consumers’ fitness habits. 

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