Athletic Shoes and yoga mat

Does the Home-workout Movement Mean the End of Commercial Gyms?


Far from a recent phenomenon, commercial gyms and fitness clubs have been around for nearly 200 years. In fact, they got their start in the late 1840s, when the world’s first membership-driven gym — filled with the leading-edge fitness equipment of the day, including ropes, pommel horses, horizontal bars, dumbbells and barbells — opened in Brussels, Belgium (and soon after relocated to Paris).

Fast-forward to today, and while commercial gyms (along with a wide range of other service-oriented, in-person businesses) have clearly taken a hit in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, sales are booming for home-based exercise equipment such as smart bikes, treadmills, virtual trainers and even workout software associated with video-game consoles. So, are we witnessing the decline of the commercial gym industry?

An insight-filled study

It’s hard to say with certainty where things will go from here, but a recent nationwide survey of health and fitness consumers conducted by The Brandon Agency offers a range of insights for the industry — and among them are some bits of good news for the COVID-strained segment, along with some actionable info for business owners.

Just a few of the interesting facts the TBA-led marketing research study uncovered about post-pandemic health and fitness consumers and their mindsets include:

  • 7 in 10 surveyed fitness and nutrition consumers said they plan to make their health and fitness a major priority in the next 12 months.
  • More than half said they plan to get their bodies into “excellent” condition throughout the next 12 months via activities ranging from rejoining gyms to working out at home and in their neighborhoods.
  • Only about 2 in 5 surveyed consumers plan to return to the gym a few times per week or more in the next 12 months, compared to more than half who visited a gym that frequently pre-pandemic.
  • Moving forward, when considering a gym or fitness center, cleanliness is a top priority for 4 in 5 surveyed fitness consumers, followed closely by the gym’s ability to provide social distancing precautions for its members.
  • Despite the reopening of gyms nationwide, 3 in 4 surveyed fitness and nutrition consumers said they plan to work out from home frequently over the next 12 months — a noticeably higher share than said they did the same before COVID-19 began.
  • Meanwhile, the duration of the average home workout has steadily increased over the past year, with nearly 2 in 5 consumers saying they plan to work out for 1 hour or more per home-workout session in 2021 and 2022.

Ready to learn more about the survey results? Download our exclusive white paper, “The New Fitness & Nutrition Consumer,” to take a deep dive into the data and the mindset of today’s fitness consumer in our post-COVID world.

Need assistance with getting your health & fitness-focused business back on track — and beyond — after the tough year the pandemic has delivered? Our team of marketing experts has gone to great lengths to get inside the mind of the fitness & nutrition consumer, and it’s eager to help. Contact us today to discuss how we can help your health- or nutrition-focused business grow.