Exercise exodus: Only 31 percent of gym members have returned to their fitness clubs

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — There’s no question the coronavirus pandemic has had a giant impact on the public’s awareness of germs. As businesses of all types struggle to stay afloat during COVID-19, a new poll has some bad news for gyms around the globe. A survey of over 5,000 gym users reveals most plan or have already canceled their memberships.

The findings by RunRepeat.com show about 60 percent of gym members aren’t returning or are considering it. Nearly one in five respondents say they’ve already canceled their gym membership during lockdown, with 40 percent giving it serious thought.

Just 31 percent of the poll report they’ve returned to their workout center once it reopened. The long-term picture for gyms as a business isn’t good. RunRepeat finds consumer confidence continues to fall since health officials declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March. Compared to estimates in the spring, the number of gym users returning is 22 percent lower than expected.

Where are gym memberships declining most?

The survey finds the United Kingdom is seeing the largest number of gym memberships torn up. Nearly 22 percent of U.K. gym members have already canceled their subscriptions. As of August, when the poll was conducted, Canada had the highest rate of gym users who were still considering leaving their fitness centers.

In the United States, gym choices are a much more state-to-state decision. As of mid-August, Massachusetts saw the highest number of membership terminations at nearly 30 percent. California and Colorado followed with a quarter of their members quitting.

Ohio is seeing the smallest decline in gym memberships with only 11 percent leaving their treadmills behind. New York was the second lowest on the list. RunRepeat study author Nicholas Rizzo notes that for states like New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina, it’s hard to get an accurate measure of who has and hasn’t returned to the gym so far. This is because these states still hadn’t reopened all their facilities at the time of the survey.

Among the states who are seeing their members go back to working out, Tennessee led with way with 52 percent returning this summer. The Volunteer State was followed by Ohio, Missouri, and Florida. Michigan and Arizona have seen the fewest gym rats come back during the pandemic.

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