Fitness gyms may be facing a grim future in the aftermath of the coronavirus if an unscientific survey of gym members accurately signals what they are up against.
A website that caters to fitness enthusiasts reported Tuesday that 50.16% of American gym members responding to its online survey said they do not plan to return to their gyms when they reopen. The survey, conducted by RunRepeat.com, found that more than a third (35.7%) of those responding in the United States said they had either canceled their memberships or were considering canceling.
The survey was conducted from April 24 to May 1, asking that only people who belong to gyms take part. More than 6,600 responded in the U.S. Another 4,200 responded from other countries, where results were similar.
Of the Coloradans responding to the survey, 54.19% said they do not plan to return to their gyms when they reopen, and 38.7% said they had either canceled their memberships or were considering doing so.
Nick Rizzo, the fitness research director for RunRepeat.com, said the site is the world’s largest online athletic shoe review site with more than 2 million views per month. It began as a review site for running shoes and then branched out to include hiking shoes and other footwear.
“What I’m taking from this, there’s a couple different factors: One is that people are nervous about returning (to their gyms), for obvious reasons,” Rizzo said. “A portion of people will not go back for awhile, until they feel confident and comfortable with returning to the gym. We don’t know how long that may last, and if that number will grow the longer this goes.
“The other aspect is, there is a massive boom in the online fitness industry and at-home workout equipment because of all this. It’s hard to find dumbbells or kettle bells online, because they got purchased immediately during that first month of people being told to shelter in place. We might see a large portion of people who were previously actively going to the gym start shifting toward the convenience of being able to do it at home.”
And there are other signs that gyms are in trouble: Gold’s Gym filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week, and last month CNBC reported that 24 Hour Fitness was exploring that option. 24 Hour chief executive Tony Ueber responded to that report in a message to members.
“Regardless of any near-term challenges faced by 24 Hour Fitness and the fitness industry generally, I remain confident that we will reemerge stronger and better for the long term,” Ueber wrote. “Like many companies, we are looking at a number of different opportunities to work with our partners to improve and enhance value.”
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