Gym Visits Surpass Pre-Pandemic Highs

Gym traffic is higher now than before the pandemic started. But it’s not business as usual.

New Heights

After a false start last year, 2022 marked a clear turning point for in-person fitness. As peak COVID restrictions lifted and connected equipment sales stalled, brick-and-mortar operators welcomed the gym faithful back.

  • Since February, monthly gym visits have been ~13% higher than over the same period 2019.
  • According to Mindbody, for those that have returned, class booking is 10% higher than pre-pandemic.
  • Exercisers taking the same Les Mills class in-person and at-home found the IRL version 14% more effective and 13% more enjoyable.

Seemingly back on track, Planet Fitness and Life Time rode new membership sales to consecutive profitable quarters. Following suit, packed classes at Xponential Fitness, F45 Training, and Orangetheory Fitness supported a US boutique studio category expected to reach $22.1B this year, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

But, increased traffic in the club doesn’t tell the full story of how Americans are exercising… if at all.

Reality Check

Looking closer at the data, IRL participation and frequency are headed in opposite directions as at-home exercise remains popular.

  • Only 26% of US adults go to a gym weekly, compared to 57% who work out at home.
  • According to McKinsey, the proportion of fitness consumers with hybrid routines has grown from 46% in 2020 to 65% in 2022.
  • Hybrid exercisers were more likely to report positive health outcomes, with 55% saying their overall wellness has improved vs. 41% for all respondents.

Why it matters: Both the weight room and the living room are effective conduits for better health, depending on the person. Gym purists would never drop a membership and at-home evangelists swear off ever returning, but the vast majority of exercisers fall in between.

While community drives the experience, convenience and flexibility are powerful factors busy, anxious, and unmotivated people will likely never give up again.

Takeaway: By 2025, the global fitness and exercise market will surpass $1.2T, all while 75% of Americans fail to meet physical activity standards and one-fifth are completely inactive. The winning solution, for society’s sake, isn’t a “here or there” argument — it’s what can convince the most people about all of the above.

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