Gyms and fitness industry worldwide and in Jamaica buckles under COVID-19 effects

Gyms and fitness industry worldwide and in Jamaica buckles under COVID-19 effects

Business reporter

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

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The fitness industry and gyms in Jamaica and across the world are buckling from the severe impact of COVID-19. This as membership and business activities continue to dwindle for these entities.

Speaking with the Business Observer, Nicholas Rizzo, fitness research director at RunRepeat in the United States, said that operators in the fitness industry globally has seen drastic declines since the onset of the pandemic.

“The entire landscape for how gyms operate has changed and major companies, corporations to small local gyms will have to adapt immediately,” he told the Business Observer.

Referring to the findings from an earlier survey done by his company among a sample size of 10, 824 gym members across 116 countries, 46.7 per cent of the respondents indicated that they would not be returning to the gym even after they were reopened in May. Key findings from that survey revealed that more than a third or 36.6 per cent of all gym members globally, had cancelled or were considering to cancel their memberships, also that women were less likely to return to the gym when reopened (52.3 per cent) than men (45.6 per cent).

Later studies conducted within the last four months have highlighted a worsening decline. From a sample of 5,055 gym members, approximately 69 per cent of the respondents have not returned to gyms and other fitness facilities.

“With many cancelled memberships, it is likely the fitness industry has already lost and will continue to lose billions, especially if the situation does not improve, and as several others consider to cancel their memberships as well,” Rizzo said.

“In the US where rates run from US$49 per month and depending on the number of members, the potential lost for annual recurring revenues is already in the billions in that industry,” he further said while estimating that these fall-offs may not be greater than US$10 billion but somewhere between 3-5 billion dollars.

He said that gym owners will now have to come up with different and creative solutions if they wish for their businesses to survive.

“There are a lot of people who just don't feel comfortable returning to the inside of a gym. Some people are, however, now training one-five persons at a time through scheduled times which comes at a higher price tag. Other options include group sessions outdoor and also renting out gym equipment to members on six-12 months contract,” he said.

“The next three to four months will be critical in determining the future of the industry overall. As seen from the first surveys, there were already gyms closing and this continues as in compiling the more recent data we are also seeing closures of some facilities. If we should see a second lockdown then there is the potential that we could have a mass die off of a lot of gyms that aren't able to sustain especially in countries with high COVID-19 rates.

'If we see more people cancelling, less people going [to the gym] it's going to drastically change the direction of the industry. Gyms have been the mainstay of fitness for decades and if all of a sudden we lose 10-20 or say 20-30 per cent of gyms over the next year or two, the solution will change. We may have to go to gyms digitally, we don't know yet—but it's going to be game changing for the industry even forcing them to change the model. Gyms particularly operate of knowing that a large percentage of their members who pay are not going to come and use it, but COVID has brought this to a model that will no longer be able to sustain,” he said


Just recently, Spartan Health Club, a popular fitness hub for beauty contestants, athletic clubs, national sporting teams and regular fitness enthusiasts locally, posted a notice of indefinite gym closure on one of the company's social media platforms last week.

“We regret to inform you that due to the extremely negative effect on the financial operation of the club caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we will be closing indefinitely at the end of September,” said Mickey Haughton James, managing director, in the notice to members.

The Business Observer has since tried to reach out to the company for further comments on this latest development, but efforts to date remain unsuccessful.

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