The industry sees an upward trend in health club memberships and visits, and research details technology’s crucial part in fitness.
After a year of doom and gloom, the fitness industry notices an upward trend in membership sign-ups and facility visits. It appears that the significance of exercise and physical activity is gaining global attention! In other news, research provides insight into technology’s impact in the fitness industry—now and in the future—and one of the world’s oldest salt mines is offering salt therapy for COVID-19 patients.
Fitness Brand Reaches Record-breaking New Membership Numbers
“It would seem that more people than ever are seeing the importance of their own personal health, having come through such a challenging year,” said Neil Randall, CEO of Anytime Fitness UK. Randall told Health Club Management that April was the company’s busiest month ever, adding tens of thousands of new members across its independently owned clubs. The surplus of new memberships comes as many clubs across the UK were shuttered for most of April, opening as early as mid-month. With the nine Anytime Fitness UK locations opened in 2021, the brand’s total number of health clubs has surpassed 180.
Equinox Membership Grows as Restrictions Let Up
As mask restrictions are lifted in regions across the nation and vaccinations rise, gym-goers file into fitness facilities. Harvey Spevak, executive chairman of Equinox Group, an IHRSA member, told CNBC in an interview, “We’ve been waiting for this day for 14 months, and what we are seeing is a tremendous amount of pent-up demand.” Spevak noted a 55% membership increase in New York City alone and, at the time of the interview, reported that Tuesday, May 18, marked the company’s highest utilization since it closed last March. Equinox has removed the mask mandate for vaccinated gym-goers—unless state or local guidelines require them—and will continue to offer online training.
ClassPass Reports Sharp Rise in New Gym Members
Although there is high demand for virtual training options, ClassPass, an IHRSA member, revealed a 600% week-on-week increase in new health club members following the ease in restrictions. According to The Guardian, since the return of indoor exercise classes, two of ClassPass’s top London studios have clocked in ten times more in-person classes than virtual reservations. ClassPass also noted a 12% increase in its European partner network during the pandemic. Chloe Ross, ClassPass vice president of international, said, “In the short-term, many studios will continue to offer online classes but there is no doubt that studios and gyms are shifting focus back to in-person sessions.”
Research Provides Insight to the Role of Technology in Fitness During & After COVID
Virtuagym released survey results—from gyms, studios, and personal trainers—that discloses technology’s extensive role in fitness-related business and activity during the pandemic. Club Industry reports that 45% of gyms, 36% of trainers, and 32% of studios used technology to offer at-home fitness training and content.
Additionally, 51% of gyms and 45% of trainers used fitness trackers—in the form of wearable technology—to help clients achieve their fitness goals. “[Technology] can enable operators big and small to deliver varied and personalized experiences to keep clients feeling motivated, ultimately really improving their physical and mental wellbeing,” said Hugo Braam, CEO and co-founder of Virtuagym. Technology assisted in maintaining a community aspect, as 60% of gyms and 54% of studios offered online group classes and half of gyms utilized in-app community features.
Check out more of the results.
13th Century Salt Mine Offers Rehabilitation to COVID Patients
More than 400-feet underground in Wieliczka, Poland, a tourist attraction and health resort, is helping COVID patients recover with salt therapy. While in the Wieliczka salt mine, patients participate in breathing and stretching exercises under doctor supervision. After completing rehabilitation at Wieliczka, “former Covid sufferers can regain their normal health. On average, there is a 60- to 80-percent improvement in their physical tests,” said Agata Kita, a physiotherapist. Although there is debate over salt therapy’s effectiveness, Lucyna Szulc, who spent 20 days on a ventilator, said the salt mine improved her breathing and physical condition. France 24 reports that Wieliczka is one of the world’s oldest salt mines, and UNESCO recognizes it as a World Heritage Site.
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 www.ihrsa.org.