Now Is Not a Good Time to Be in the Personal Fitness Industry
Even as the country struggles to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, there are a couple of industries that cannot seem to catch a break. Personal fitness is one of them. Grocery retailers and big-box department stores have remained open throughout. Restaurants and hotels are open at limited capacity. Factories are churning and industrial workplaces are busy. Yet gyms and fitness studios in many states remain closed.
Some are still closed because their governors will not allow them to reopen. Others remain closed because social distancing and mask restrictions make group fitness instruction impractical. Let’s face it, now is not a good time to be in the personal fitness industry.
Small Studios Hit Hardest
Fitness center franchises operating fairly large gyms are certainly struggling to keep their doors open. But as it turns out, it is the small studios that have been hit the hardest. Small studios do not necessarily have facilities large enough to keep people properly spaced and still have enough guests to make operating profitable.
At Mcycle in Salt Lake City, the doors have been closed since the start of the pandemic. They have continued serving customers by offering online classes and leasing their bikes. But how long can they continue to do so? And what about studios that do not have the resources to do what Mcycle is doing? Will they ever reopen?
Overcoming the Fear
State and local mandates are the big issue for fitness centers right now. But there will still be a long way to go after restrictions are lifted. For example, fear of the coronavirus is probably going to linger for years. How do fitness center and studio owners overcome that fear among their customers?
It is a given that business owners will go out of their way to stress the actions they are taking to keep people safe. They will spend the next couple of years talking about cleaning and disinfecting. They will work overtime to ensure their guests are comfortable with distancing. Whether or not they succeed remains to be seen.
Fear is a complex thing. People who are generally afraid of something find it very hard to face their fears and work through them. It is easier just to turn and walk away. That may be the biggest challenge of all when the personal fitness industry is finally free from coronavirus shackles.
A New Emphasis on Staying Home
The icing on the cake – although it is not a good thing in this case – is the new emphasis on staying home. We are already seeing its impact on the commercial real estate market. Companies are discovering they don’t need to spend money on office space when much of their work can be done at home.
Workers have figured out that they can adapt to working from home and still be equally productive. Likewise, they are figuring out that they do not have to go to the gym or studio to get their exercise. The same money they would put into memberships or classes can be used to outfit their homes with workout equipment, video screens, and sound systems.
It is reasonable to assume that at least some gym and studio members will not return even when given the opportunity to do so. They will have invested so much in their own home studios that they will continue exercising there.
Let’s hope the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t signal the end of the personal fitness industry. The industry helps a lot of people and provides a lot of jobs. It would be a shame to see it go by the wayside.