Fitness Industry Roundup: Gyms Keep Spirits Up, Pivot to Success

Fitness Industry Roundup: Gyms Keep Spirits Up, Pivot to Success

(Photo Source: Max Level Fitness)

By Sami Smith

By Sami Smith


Health and fitness professionals, local officials, and businesses do what they can to ensure the overall fitness industry and small businesses survive. 

After an immensely tough year, 2021 is to be the year of the fitness industry’s revival. The more positive news stories that we find make a comeback feel even closer to conception. Slowly but surely, the importance of exercise and physical activity is gaining attention worldwide. The following stories highlight those who have assisted in keeping health and fitness clubs and professionals afloat so that they can continue maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle for their members and community.


“Try It” Campaign Focuses on Assisting Businesses & Keeping the Community Healthy


As part of the Get Healthy Alexandria campaign by Horizon Public Health, the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce launched “Try It.” The program provides Alexandria, MN, residents with coupons to make appointments at participating fitness facilities. Tara Bitzan, executive director of the Alexandria Chamber, told Voice of Alexandria, “First, we are trying to help businesses that were significantly impacted by closures and reduced capacity requirements. But we are also trying to connect people in the community who currently don’t belong to a fitness program to one that is right for them.” The “Try It” program runs through April 30, and residents can pick up coupons at the Chamber Office.


Find out “Try It” participating fitness facilities.

New York Fitness Facilities Receive COVID-19 Grants


According to The Saratogian, nearly 30 small businesses in Saratoga Springs, NY, received grants to assist with financial hardships brought on by the pandemic. Two of the recipients were health and fitness clubs, Max Level Fitness and Anytime Fitness. “This is the first time that we’ve been helped throughout the pandemic,” said Anytime Fitness Owner Jonathan Gable. “I can’t even begin to say how appreciative I am of being considered and actually being accepted as a recipient.”


Small businesses in Saratoga Springs can keep an eye out for future grant opportunities.


Detroit Fitness Professionals Pivot to Survive the Pandemic


As reported in Model D, health and fitness-related facilities in Detroit, MI, have reimagined their business strategy to combat the pandemic’s wrath. Sterling Wise of The Wise Decision said, “One thing that COVID has taught me is that there’s a need to have multiple streams of revenue when it comes to the business.” From selling merchandise to hosting virtual fitness classes and campaigns to cashing in on cleaning supplies and air purifiers, and more, these entrepreneurs and gym operators are not giving up.


Read what Detroit fitness facilities are doing to stay in business.

Ottawa Gym Owner Rows Seven Marathons to Raise Awareness & Funds for Mental Health.


Every day for one week, Conor Oakley, owner of Sweat Fit Co. in Hintonburg, Ottawa, rowed a full marathon—over 183 total miles—to raise money for the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. Oakley ultimately ended up going through the intense rowing workouts because of the pandemic’s profound impact on mental health. Oakley told CTV News Ottawa, “I found as a small business owner, and communicating with a lot of my members, that a lot more people than I realized were struggling with mental health issues.” The fundraiser collected more than $4,000.

Read more about Oakley’s challenge.


Fitness Veterans Call on Industry to Complete Software Purchase Survey


Experienced operators and business leaders collaborated to create the 2021 Club Management System Survey. Allison Flatley, CEO of Allison Flatley Consulting, Ted Vickey, Ph.D., founder and president of FitWell, Inc., and Bonnie Patrick-Mattalian, an independent management consultant, assembled the survey to measure and understand management software and systems purchasing decisions. Flatley said, “Data and software performance is more critical to fitness center operations than ever … we hope to receive data from every segment of the industry, sharing and learning together.” The survey closes on March 31, 2021.


Fitness professionals who use management software and systems are encouraged to take part in the survey.


European Union Suspends Tariffs on U.S. Gym Equipment, Other Goods


Yahoo Finance reported that the European Union and the United States released a joint statement announcing a four-month suspension on all U.S. tariffs and EU duties. The suspension comes just four months after the EU implemented tariffs for an array of American goods, including stationary exercise equipment. While a further discussion is needed to determine a long-term solution, EU trade chief, Valdis Dombrovskis, said, “Removing these tariffs is a win-win for both sides, at a time when the pandemic is hurting our workers and our economies.”


Learn more about the agreement.

Sami Smith is IHRSA’s Communications and Public Relations Assistant. On a typical day, she delivers communications and creates content for IHRSA’s advocacy efforts, while working to shape IHRSA and the fitness industry’s public image on multiple platforms. Outside of the office, you can find her traveling to new areas, indulging in food, or participating in just about any sport.




The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) is a global community of health and fitness professionals committed to building their businesses and improving their communities’ health and well-being. The mission of IHRSA is to grow, protect, and promote the health and fitness industry, and to provide its members with the benefits that will help them be more successful. IHRSA and its members (health clubs and fitness facilities, gyms, spas, sports clubs, and industry suppliers) are dedicated to make the world healthier through regular exercise. For more information visit

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