After continuous years of exponential growth, the health and fitness industry was expected to soar to new heights in 2020. We all know how the year actually turned out. Through the pandemic there have been unfortunate events—closures, job loss, health implications, and deaths—but it hasn’t all been dreadful.
We’ve gathered a considerable amount of wins that health and fitness clubs and suppliers achieved in the past year. Reading these stories, IHRSA is optimistic about the future and expects that the fitness industry will bounce back stronger than ever.
Fitness Industry Growth in 2020
It certainly wasn’t an easy year for the fitness industry—thousands of gyms were forced to close their doors for good, file for bankruptcy, lay off staff, and much more. Despite these challenges, many clubs were able to come out more profound and expand their business—or just get started. In 2020, EoS Fitness opened their 24th location in Arizona, Orangetheory opened nearly three dozen studios, and a number of people opened their gym for the first time everamid the pandemic.
Sales for at-home equipment boomed, leading to a surge in growth for Gympass and an expansion into Canada for Club Automation. Technogym scored a five-year contract to supply Fitness Time locations with equipment and digital solutions.
Various examples of industry growth throughout the year:
- Echelon Raises $65 Million, Furthering Goal to Put Innovative Connected Fitness Within Reach for More Consumers
- Life Fitness Introduces Two New Rowing Machines to Growing Portfolio of Performance Training Equipment
- Report Shows A Decade of Growth for Health Clubs, Gyms, & Studios
- Local gym adds 3 locations amid COVID-19 challenges
- This Charlotte trainer pushed through COVID-19 roadblocks to open a fitness studio
- Ecore Partners With CommonWealth Equity Partners
- Matrix Fitness Expands Its Strength Portfolio With New Go Series
Fitness Industry Innovation in 2020
This past year, innovation for the fitness industry primarily focused on growing or developing on-demand and live streaming options.
Forming partnerships was also a common trend in the industry this year. To provide members with customizable at-home workouts, Blink Fitness partnered with Sworkit, and Endorphinz brought together several streaming partners so that fitness facilities could continue offering exercise programs to members. Life Time announced it will begin offering Apple Fitness+ to its membership, the first U.S. health and fitness club to do so.
Other innovations from clubs:
- Celebrity Fitness Trainer & Entrepreneur Launches WeFitStudios
- With outdoor classes and boot camps, gyms innovate as they wait to reopen
- Gympass supports organisations with at-home digital wellness resources
- Helping Your Club to Overcome Coronavirus—Les Mills
- The Bay Club and KinderCare Education Team Up to Support Families With Distance Learning
- Ecore Athletic Launches Outdoor Spaces Collection
- Frontline Experts Using Innovating Techniques to Get Canadians Back to the Gym
- How Health Clubs Still Serve At-risk Groups Amid Pandemic
- New gym has device to help keep customers safe from COVID-19
Fitness Industry Generosity in 2020
Even through turmoil and calamity—and the potential to file for bankruptcy or permanently closing—the health and fitness industry kept their community’s and members’ safety and health top of mind.
Amid government mandated closures and greatly reduced capacity upon reopening, clubs chose to use their resources to assist healthcare workers and stop the spread. In Arizona, Mountainside Fitness donated $100,000 to their local Coronavirus Relief Fund and offered two locations to serve as drive-up antibody testing sites. Across the country, the Newtown Athletic Club in Pennsylvania turned their indoor field house to a backup medical site with the capacity to hold over 300 patients. The Edge Fitness Clubs in Orange, CT, donated cleaning supplies to the Yale New Haven Health System.
More generous contributions from fitness facilities:
- Planet Fitness Awards $225,000 in Scholarships to 45 Boys & Girls Club Youth for Their Efforts to Promote a Kinder and More Inclusive World
- East Sacramento gym raises bar on community outreach
- Local gym opens up online classes to all, donates proceeds to food bank
- CrossFit Low Oxygen Becomes the First “Fit To Recover” Affiliate
- VIDA Fitness Partners With the National Academy of Sports Medicine to Offer 20 Scholarships for Black Students Seeking Careers as Personal Trainers
- New York City Department of Education Receives $1 Million Grant from Life Time Foundation
Fitness Industry Reach in 2020
With a pandemic ransacking the government and public’s perception of health and fitness clubs, it became essential for the fitness industry to rewrite the narrative once and for all.
To mark clubs as a vital resource to get and remain healthy, collaboration with medical and public health experts was of the essence. Their support—along with data showing clubs were not guilty of spreading the virus—caught the attention of lawmakers and was a key factor in the reopening of some gyms.
The globally-recognized authority on lifestyle medicine, David Katz, M.D., joined Self Esteem Brands to amplify the critical role fitness plays in overall health and wellness. Former acting U.S. surgeon general, Kenneth P. Moritsugu, M.D., MPH, published several op-eds in favor of reopening gyms because of their indispensable benefits.
Additional ways the fitness industry was recognized this year:
- Freeholder Director Arnone issues statement commending gyms and health clubs
- Public-Health Experts Are Rewriting Pandemic Rules for Governments—and Their Gyms
- Doctor Says Gyms Can Help Prevent COVID-19 & Lessen Its Impact
- Medical Experts: Let Gyms Keep Serving Their Communities
- Reps. From 12 States Support Fitness Industry Relief Bill
- LES MILLS On Demand Named 2020 “Best At-home Workout” by USA Today
- Physique 57 Awarded Mindbody’s 2020 Industry Icon Award
- Facilities of Merit Honor Awarded to Power Wellness’ Piedmont Wellness Center
- Medical Fitness Association Names Kevin McHugh to Board Of Directors
The stories above prove that the fitness industry is resilient through all circumstances. This past year is certainly one to remember, but one that we don’t wish to see again. Here’s to more positivity and growth for the fitness industry—and the rest of the world—in 2021!
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.