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10 Aug 2022

IHRSA Global Report finds reassuring signs of recovery with some operators beating pre-pandemic numbers
BY Tom Walker

The report predicts a gradual recovery for the global industry – with plenty of green shoots visible across all geographical markets

The report predicts a gradual recovery for the global industry – with plenty of green shoots visible across all geographical markets
photo: Shutterstock.com/Kzenon

Fitness markets around the globe are demonstrating "reassuring signs of recovery" following the pandemic disruptions according to the new 2022 IHRSA Global Report.

The recovery shows the importance of the bricks-and-mortar component of the fitness industry, with growth returning despite the pandemic-related lockdown of clubs, severe governmental restrictions imposed and the surge in digital offerings.

In Europe, the recovery has been staggered, mainly owing to the different restrictions and approaches to COVID-19 measures between countries.

For example, Spain, one of the most severely hit countries during the pandemic, rebounded well in 2021 with total membership increasing by 12 per cent, reaching 4.8 million. Overall market revenue grew by more than 18 per cent.

In Germany, the number of facilities is down by a statistically insignificant 0.5% on pre-pandemic 2020 levels – partly due to clubs being closed for six months in 2021.

Overall, however, many parts of the European health and fitness industry are building back to the numbers they achieved before COVID-19.

Total revenues across the continent's fitness market continued to decline slightly during the period of the research (2021) for a second successive year, dropping by 11 per cent to €17.1bn, compared to the €19.3bn of 2020 and the €28.8bn of pre-pandemic 2019.

Overall membership levels also remain 14 per cent below pre-pandemic level.

The picture is similar in Latin America, where countries are recovering in differing phases.

This was seen in the way Colombia experienced a sudden uptick in former members returning, with around 20 per cent coming back to facilities after May 1, 2022, when the mandatory use of masks was eliminated.

Data shows that in the US, more than one out of five people aged six or older (21.8 per cent) belonged to a health club or studio in 2021, totalling 66.5 million consumers.

The figure represents a 3.8 per cent growth over the last two years, which the report describes as a "validation of the importance of the industry" amidst the severe challenges posed by COVID-19.

The report also shows that some US fitness chains have reported substantial increases in membership during 2022.

These include ​​Planet Fitness, which reported that Q1 2022 system-wide, same-store sales increased by 15.9 per cent, and Blink Fitness, which experienced its best sales month in company history in March 2022.

Elsewhere, Life Time reported that memberships increased 23.8 per cent in Q1 2022.

Overall, ​​clubs in the US experienced 26 per cent more new members joining in Q2 2021 when compared to the same quarter in 2019.

Overall the report predicts a gradual recovery for the global fitness market, with plenty of green shoots visible across all markets.

"For more than two years, the world has experienced a global health crisis that has not been uniform in its disruptions," says author Kristen Walsh.

"By the spring of 2022, this trend continued, with some regions suffering escalations of infections causing shutdowns, while other areas settled into relatively stable situations with only occasion flareups.

"While many refuse to call this a new normal, the uncertainty unleashed by the virus will remain a factor in driving market forces, at least in the short term.

"Fluctuating global trading across the fitness industry is still a recovery and many facilities, especially large chains, are reporting substantial increases in membership.

"This good news is a necessary corrective to the revenue losses and closures that resulted from the two-plus years of the pandemic. "

To access and download the full 2022 IHRSA Global Report, click here.



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