Each week, IHRSA Interim President & CEO Brent Darden will bring you his most important topics of the moment in a short five-minute video as part of an ongoing series called “Take 5.”

IHRSA’s Take 5: Deep Dive on Data [VIDEO]

This week, IHRSA Interim President & CEO Brent Darden shares research findings on current club revenues, revenue projections for 2021, and information on online bookings and appointments. He also gives an update on the presidential debate, the Health & Fitness Recovery Act of 2020 (H.R. 8485), and more.

  • October 28, 2020

One way in which IHRSA is working to help the fitness industry is by providing research to help club operators make decisions during this unprecedented time. Information on revenues, projections for 2021, and data on current member behavior are all areas where the fitness industry can come together to learn from one another.

In this week’s Take 5, IHRSA Interim President & CEO Brent Darden takes a deep dive on data. He shares new IHRSA research on the top reasons gymgoers miss going to their club, European club membership revenue projections from a Deloitte survey, and the latest Mindbody data on U.S. bookings and appointments, and more.

Watch the full video above, read the full transcript below, or jump to a section by topic:

  • 0:04 - IHRSA Board of Directors Hard at Work
  • 0:50 - IHRSA Responds to Joe Biden’s Comment on Closing Gyms
  • 1:38 - Revenue Data from REX Roundtables
  • 2:25 - Gym Goers Miss Physically Going to Their Gym
  • 3:08 - Survey Results from European Operators, by Deloitte
  • 3:53 - Bookings and Appointment Data from Mindbody
  • 5:42 - Health & Fitness Recovery Act of 2020 (H.R. 8485) Update
  • 6:07 - Poland Gym Reclassifies Itself as a Church in an Attempt to Avoid Closing

Full Transcript

Welcome back to this week's CEO Take 5. Thanks for joining us.

IHRSA Board of Directors Hard at Work

First, the IHRSA Board of Directors continue to work really hard on all of your behalf. It's a volunteer assignment, as many of you know, and I just want to reinforce that they've been doing yeoman's work for the last several months on your behalf; working long hours, on lots of committees, lots of headlight teams, to reimagine the association for all of us, for the future. For example, normally, the IHRSA Board of Directors meets three times a year for maybe two and a half days. This group, since I came on board, we're having connections every single week set aside so that we can keep each other updated and motivated as we go through helping with this crisis. So kudos to them. If you know any of those individuals, which is too many to name in this segment, please reach out and extend your thanks.

IHRSA Responds to Joe Biden’s Comment on Closing Gyms

Also, in case you missed it—I didn't see it live—but I quickly heard through everyone reaching out to me that the candidate for President, Joe Biden, when asked during the debate this last week, his opinion about closing of businesses, said that he really wasn't a big fan of closing businesses, except that he felt it was necessary to close bars and gymnasiums. So rest assured, you know, the IHRSA staff is preparing a response and reaching out to his campaign to share with them some of the research and the rationale and the relevant data that's out there pointing to the fact that clubs are really a very slight risk for [transmitting] COVID. And the evidence tends to bear that out. So we're hoping we'll have some inroads in that regard. I know many of you were disappointed with that particular comment.

Revenue Data from REX Roundtables

[...] Just last week, [Rex Roundtables] surveyed [300] members and asked all those club operators, where are your revenues this year, compared to the same period last year, specifically for the month of September? And the resulting number was 69.6%, or almost 70% of revenues this September, compared to September of 2019. Which is pretty good news, because those numbers do include those states that have just recently opened. So they don't have a lot of history and time to build up their membership revenues and ancillary revenues as those clubs that might have been opened a little bit longer in some of the other states.

Gymgoers Miss Physically Going to Their Gym

I spoke about some of the research that IHRSA was doing with multiple partners last week. One other, I think, really great statistic is that 95% of gymgoers list three reasons for sure that they miss going to their gym physically in person. And that is no surprise to all of us. They miss the routine of going to their gym, they miss the culture of community around the gym. And then they also miss their ability to actually fulfill their fitness goals, which, although they may be doing some exercise outside the gym at this point, they really feel like that gym experience helps them fulfill the goals around health and fitness that they have.

Survey Results from European Operators, by Deloitte

A recent survey of European operators done by Deloitte shared this information: that they were projecting, if you will, for December of this year—so December of 2020—they're projecting that their overall membership revenues will be down about 14%. And then looking into the future for 2021, and then December of 2021, they're projecting those same revenue numbers to be down if you will, by 10%. And that, of course, is compared to projections not compared to reality. And since that survey was done, unfortunately, a lot of Europe has been closed except for non-essential businesses, which the clubs and gyms you know, around the world, are not considered at this time, unfortunately.

Bookings and Appointment Data from Mindbody

Got some really great information from Mindbody, another one of IHRSA's great supporters. They're doing some really good research there and they have some good data and they shared data about their bookings, and appointments that are made online. So they have a number of different clients across a lot of different segments, including big box gyms, smaller fitness-only clubs and even studios. And they reported that as of October 22—so this is just last week—the overall bookings and appointments in the United States was down 32% compared to a year ago. So 30%, down in bookings and appointments through Mindbody Online.

And then in my further conversations with CEO Josh McCarter, he said, you know, of course, that number is way down a little bit by California and New York, because they have just recently opened. And so their numbers brought it down, which were respectively 54% bookings by California, 56% bookings for New York compared to [the] prior year. But then it was also supported on the other end by the two leading states according to bookings, and appointments. And that was Georgia, with 15%, and Arizona with about 20%. Although he did say those have lagged a little bit, just in the last week.

Overall, he feels like that's probably where the new normal will be; that appointments and bookings going into next year, he thinks, will be about 15 to 20% of what they were prior year. And of course, he also shared those clubs are navigating, you know, the crisis and the pandemic and trying to boost those numbers by offering more classes, by offering outdoor fitness, and being more creative with sort of, you know, how they're encouraging people to book through their virtual offerings and so forth.

Health & Fitness Recovery Act of 2020 (H.R. 8485) Update

An update on the Health & Fitness Recovery Act Bill, it continues to gain support. Last week, I talked about some of the actions and the letters and the fact that we had co-sponsors on both the Democratic and Republican side of the house. Now there are nine additional co-sponsors to that bill. So it is gaining momentum and gaining some traction. We're excited about that possibility.

Poland Gym Reclassifies Itself as a Church in an Attempt to Avoid Closing

And then finally, if all else fails, perhaps you can follow the path of the gym in Poland, who decided to reclassify their gym to a church, that they're calling the Church of the Healthy Body. Further than that, they're calling their trainers, the Elder Council, and they're doing all this in an attempt to reclassify their business so that it can stay open. And Poland churches are considered an essential business, gyms are not. And so they're trying to reclassify themselves, again, as the Church of the Healthy Body.

I'll close with that and hope to see you again next week.

Related Articles & Publications

  • IHRSA’s Take 5: Insight into the COVID Era Fitness Consumer [VIDEO]

  • IHRSA’s Take 5: Telling the Story that Health Clubs Are Safe [VIDEO]

  • The COVID Era Fitness Consumer: Part 1

Author avatar

Katie Willis

Katie Willis previously served as IHRSA's Senior Marketing Operations Manager—a position that created and executed marketing campaigns to grow IHRSA and promote its events.