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Fitness
Quarterly Index
2022: Q1

After a budding recovery in Q4 followed by an Omicron-induced drop in visits in January, fitness foot traffic rose once more, leading to an overall 5.6% increase in fitness visits in Q1 2022 compared to Q1 2019. This means that fitness visits over the past two quarters have not only matched pre-pandemic levels, they’ve exceeded them. The current fitness foot traffic numbers are a testament to the strong demand for offline fitness channels, even after two years of home workouts and digital classes. 

Analyzing dozens of brands including:

Fitness Visits Take Off Mid-Q1

January is typically one of the strongest months for fitness, as consumers motivated by New Year’s Resolutions hit the gym with gusto for the first couple of weeks of the year. This year, due to the spread of Omicron, the fitness category did not see the usual beginning-of-the-year boost – and comparisons to strong January 2019 made the sector seem worse off than it was. As the COVID wave receded, however, the sector revealed its true strength: offline fitness began to climb again. Weekly visits have exceeded 2019 for the entire second half of the quarter, proving once more that the end of gyms is not coming any time soon. 

“As the Omicron wave receded, the fitness category revealed its true strength.”

+9.6%
9.6% Yo3Y growth in weekly fitness visits for the week of 3/28/22

Visit Length Increases

Along with the rise in fitness visits, the median visit length also increased in Q1 relative to last quarter, marking the third straight quarter of QoQ visit length increase. So not only are people visiting gyms more often – they’re also staying longer. It seems, then, that while COVID may still be keeping some people away from closed fitness centers, those who are hitting the gym are no longer making the effort to cut their workouts short.

“Not only are people visiting gyms more often – they’re also staying longer.”

+2.1%
Median Visit Length Increases by 2.1% QoQ

Fitness Growth Leaders - Yo3Y

The overall growth in quarterly fitness visits was unevenly distributed among the leading fitness players. While brands like Crunch Fitness and Planet Fitness saw a huge spike in visits compared to 2019, some brands’ foot traffic remained significantly below pre-pandemic levels. But comparing the overall Yo3Y visit gaps with the visits-per-venue metrics shows that branch closures were responsible for most of the dramatic decline in visits. On a visits per venue level, all the category leaders analyzed were either on par with or ahead of their 2019 metrics in Q1, meaning that these fitness brands have now successfully right-sized and there is enough demand to sustain healthy visit levels to the remaining branches.  

“On a visits per venue level, all the category leaders analyzed were either on par with or ahead of their 2019 metrics in Q1, meaning that these fitness brands have now successfully right-sized.”

+67.7%
Crunch Fitness foot traffic up by 67.7% relative to Q1 2019

Fitness Rising Stars

While many were lamenting the end of brick and mortar fitness, several rising stars were expanding their gym fleet and building a loyal following. Blink Fitness, Chuze Fitness, and EoS Fitness have taken off over the past year, with Q1 visits up 72.5%, 35.3%, and 142.0%, respectively, when compared to 2019. All three rising stars offer value-priced membership options, which is likely contributing to their current success. 

“Another great indication of the imminent return of fitness brands is the continued rise of visit duration. Following two straight quarters of growth, median visit duration rose 3% in Q1. ”

+3%
Median Visit Duration Rose 3% QoQ, the third straight quarter of growth

Summary

Offline fitness experienced a revival in Q1. Following a rough January during which the Omicron variant kept people away, February and March saw a resurgence of foot traffic to gyms nationwide, and the category finished the quarter with more overall visits than it had in Q1 2019. This growth in visits is all the more impressive in the context of large-scale branch closures which has impacted visits to some of the bigger category leaders. 

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