The fitness industry is struggling during COVID-19.
In May, five of the strongest national brands saw their visitor numbers fall by an average of 84.5% year on year, according to Placer.ai.
But with the pandemic now spanning six months, the gyms are beginning a modest comeback. It turns out that being stuck at home has increased people's craving for a workout in the gym.
In September, these brands are gradually recovering as traffic only declined 46.5%, according to Placer.ai. The top performers are Anytime Fitness and Planet Fitness, whose visitor numbers in September only fell by 23.7% and 35.4% compared to the previous year.
Placer.ai looked at the weeks from August 31, September 7, September 14, and September 21. Planet Fitness saw an average drop in visitor numbers of just 37.4% over those four weeks, an improvement of 10.9% over the drop in visitor numbers over the four weeks prior. LA Fitness and Gold's Gym saw increases of 7.9% and 4.9% respectively over the same period over this average decrease.
Where gyms are located was a huge factor in how quickly they recovered. As California grapples with a COVID resurgence and further shutdowns, Planet Fitness faces declines, according to Placer.ai.
Placer.ai's data are consistent with those Yelp reported in September. While restaurants, retail stores, gyms, and the beauty industry all suffered, things generally stabilized.
A central tenant
For commercial real estate, fitness center restoration is critical. When soft goods retailers closed their doors, many became malls landlords relied on gyms to take their place.
The gyms didn't just fill up space. They also brought energy, visibility, and pedestrian traffic to shopping malls, even when they had tied parking spaces.
"While there were still some of these parking problems, it was better than having a large open space that was just empty and no one knew what we were going to do with it," said Nick Banks, principal, managing director and global leader of Avison Young's retail affinity group said in a previous interview with GlobeSt. "Before COVID, fitness studios were one of the bright spots in retail that we occupy with a lot of space. So it was a real success story."
It can be again when people keep coming back to the gym.