There are more fitness options in the market now than ever before. People can exercise at big-box gyms, sports clubs, smaller boutique fitness studios, as well as through on-demand at-home fitness equipment and even virtual platforms. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a slew of challenges to the industry, gyms have seen a rapid rebound and are anticipated to boom in 2022. They are well-positioned to serve the millennial customer, offering online training, various equipment, and personal training options. People are now more concerned for their health than ever in a post-pandemic world. With intense competition in the market, key players are entering markets previously unpenetrated.
The increasing awareness and desire for consumers to maintain and improve their health and fitness has encouraged people from all walks of life to adopt fitness as an essential part of their lifestyle. This increased focus on health and wellness from customers has spurred the demand for services that provide positive returns. In particular, gyms are expanding beyond the traditional norms of the fitness space to incorporate various features that make them more attractive and compelling to consumers than their competitors. Planet Fitness, for example, offers a competitive $10 joining fee and a $10 monthly membership fee, positioning itself as an affordable alternative without jeopardizing high-quality fitness. It uses positive reinforcement in its messaging, referring to itself as “The Judgement Free Zone,” and free fitness training for motivation. In addition, big-box gyms often have several locations scattered throughout a metro and oftentimes allow members to use any location. In some cases, there are health-conscious food products offered in-store or a smoothie station so gym-goers can get their protein fix without leaving. Moreover, there are a plethora of other benefits that range from gym to gym, including salons, saunas, massaging options, and discounts on fitness brands like Reebok or Nike.
Concerns Regarding Oversaturation
Many investors and owners are concerned with the market becoming saturated with options after a decade of intense growth and constant shifting trends. It’s become more important than ever to understand who the clients are, where they live, and what their fitness needs truly are. With so many gyms in the market, there has been COVID-19 related fallout.
It is important to note that access to fitness centers is key to keeping Americans healthy. Physical activity plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system and reducing COVID-19 risk factors such as obesity, heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. Physical fitness has long-term mental benefits as well, including reducing the risk of stress and depression, which increased nationally during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Big-box gyms will continue to be viable beyond the pandemic as they offer the convenience of being open throughout the day rather than strictly scheduled times for classes. They have apps in place, equipped with online training and users’ personal data. Gyms have modified their experiences to comply with all existing CDC and state guidelines, which has proven to be a monumental task. Not only have they changed basic interpersonal behavior, but also physical alterations that needed to be made to the interiors.
In the “new normal,” people are returning to their routines, including going to the gym before or after work or school. The gym sector is on the rise, as at-home exercising is on the rise, allowing big-box gyms to provide an additional route to access exercises, thus more value to members. Between May to July, visits to gyms, including Orangetheory, LA Fitness, Gold’s Gym, and 24 Hour Fitness, have increased every month compared to the previous month. The increased visits indicate these gyms have yet to reach their peak. Their data demonstrate that visits grew in July by 33.3 percent, 7.1 percent, 12.3 percent, and 6.6 percent to Crunch Fitness, Planet Fitness, Workout Anytime, and Anytime Fitness, respectively, compared to 2019 figures. According to Placer.ai, despite August visits dropping across the board, foot traffic is expected to climb back up as the current COVID-19 wave subsides. In the last three months, the average visit length shows that spending has increased in the gym compared to pre-pandemic.