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COVID 19 & THE UK FITNESS INDUSTRY

Power Rack and Platform in a Commercial Gym Environment

It’s suggested that a habit is borne out of doing something regularly for around 10 weeks, and this includes going to the gym. 

Following on from gym closures in March 2020, there was concern within the fitness industry that the longer gym members go without using a gym, the less likely that they would return once gyms were to reopen. 

One thing that became certain very early on was that regular gym goers were adamant that they would stick to their workouts even if that meant investing hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds in equipment to create their own home gyms.

INCREASE IN THE SALE OF HOME GYM EQUIPMENT

The sales of home gym equipment spiked by a whopping 5800% (as of July 2020) with the most popular purchases being steppers closely followed by workout benches, exercise bikes and then freeweights. 

Gym equipment suppliers who hold imported stock seemed to sell out almost overnight. 

ONLINE CLASSES SOAR IN POPULARITY

In line with this, popular social media influencers who offer online classes saw a huge upswing in both their followers and the number of people viewing their content.    

THE FINANCIAL IMPACT OF GYM CLOSURES

Unfortunately the closure of gyms and the uncertainty as to when they could reopen meant many people began cancelling their memberships. One gym reported losing over a third of its membership base during the first three months of closure so the concern from the fitness industry was certainly valid.

The value of the fitness industry had been increasing steadily from 2011 onwards but forecasters have predicted a fall of around three billion GBP for 2021.  A large percentage of this loss is down to the January 2021 lockdown which meant that the usual boost in members was not there.  Around 12% of new members join during this month alone. 

WILL HOME WORKOUTS TAKE THE PLACE OF GYM WORKOUTS?

Whilst there is a concern that the number of people who usually workout in a gym will now permanently stick to training at home, it’s important not to forget the benefits of attending a gym as opposed to working out at home.  

Firstly, unless you’ve got a huge amount of space and the capital to invest in machines, working out at home is going to be limited when compared to the amenities available at the gym.

Secondly, it’s easy to get distracted when training at home but not so much in the gym.  A gym environment ensures you will stay focussed.  After all, when you get to the gym what else are you going to do?

Many people also have ’gym buddies’ helping members to stick to their workouts, providing the incentive to train even on those off-days.  This also encompasses the social aspect of gym training which you won’t get with home workouts.  Many independent gyms offer that community vibe which simply cannot be replicated at home. 

HEALTH IS WEALTH

On a positive note for gyms, there has seemed to be a rapid recovery for some with membership rates increasing by around a third as of the end of June 2021.  Membership rates in the UK are expected to continue rising in line with students returning to campus over the rest of this year. 

One thing is certain, the Covid pandemic has certainly made people think about their health, both physically and mentally and that can only be a good thing.  The importance of exercise and its subsequent health benefits can never be under-estimated, and the intermittent closure of gyms has made that more apparent than ever before. 


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