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: Insight into the COVID Era Fitness Consumer [VIDEO]

This week, IHRSA Interim President & CEO Brent Darden shares a message from U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, new research findings, as well as more information from a recent COVID-19 outbreak.

  • October 21, 2020

With all of the new virtual fitness offerings that have developed as a result of the pandemic, some may wonder if members miss physically going into their gyms. Are they getting used to—or even now prefer to—attend classes virtually and workout in their own homes? Or do they miss their gym’s equipment, workout space, and the socialization and camaraderie that goes along with being in the physical space?

In this week’s Take 5, IHRSA Interim President & CEO Brent Darden shares the results of a recent national study that answers those questions. He also shares a message from U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) regarding the Health & Fitness Recovery Act of 2020, lessons to be learned from a COVID-19 outbreak, and more.

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

  • 0:04 - Industry Shows Support for the Health & Fitness Recovery Act of 2020 (H.R. 8485)
  • 1:50 - What the Fitness Industry Can Learn from a COVID-19 Outbreak
  • 3:04 - IHRSA Member Value Survey Results Are In
  • 3:48 - Results from a Recent National Study
  • 5:51 - Health Clubs to Stay Open in Scotland Despite Rise of COVID Cases
  • 6:15 - Beware of Scams on the Rise

Video Transcript

Industry Shows Support for the Health & Fitness Recovery Act of 2020 (H.R. 8485)

Welcome back, everyone, to this week's edition of Take 5. First is an update on the Health & Fitness Recovery Act of 2020. Thanks to all of you for supporting that in such a great way. There's been over 4,200 individual actions taken. And there's already been over 13,000 letters sent to Congress. Keep up the good work. We also had a press conference this last week in Washington with Representative Mike Quigley, who's one of the sponsors of the bill. He did a great job in the press conference with several national media outlets there. He personalized a message, talked about his own visits to the gym and how consistent he was having missed it when the gym was closed, and what a part of life that is for him. So he was a great representative, through the press conference on that.

[Rep. Quigley:] “This isn't just an important industry for our economy, and all those who work in the industry. From someone like myself, who is about a three-day-a-week person in a gym, it's absolutely critical to the health and well being of our country. So I was very appreciative and glad to have partnered the Health and Fitness Recovery Act, HR 8485. And I'm glad to partner with Congressman Fitzpatrick to introduce the bill. And I want to thank IHRSA for the work and putting this together and keeping us informed.”

And we appreciate that from him quite a bit as well.

Also, if you didn't see it, we got some really positive coverage on Fox & Friends. There's a news segment there and they interviewed the Crunch club owner there in Long Island, and he did a great job with the talking points about our industry and the impact the closures have had on our business, and the value that we bring and the benefits we add to not only our members but to the communities around us as well. So we got some really positive coverage for a change.

What the Fitness Industry Can Learn from a COVID-19 Outbreak

Next, I touched base last week a little bit on the outbreak that happened in Hamilton, Canada, right to the spin class there. There's been a lot of coverage on that. We've reached out to them and uncovered and discovered, if you will, you know that they were indeed following the protocols that were issued by their local province. So they're doing a lot of things that we're doing here in the States as well, including specifically to answer some of your questions, masks were required to be worn when they were in the facility going to and from, but not when they were actually strenuously exercising. So, they were not wearing masks during the spin class when they were exercising, only when they were entering and departing the class.

Another question that's been asked is, did they do anything around their air filtration or air exchange ratios? To this point, they've actually been mum—they haven't given any response. So you can read into that what you will but perhaps that's an area that all of you might give a little more attention to, as we continue to move forward.

IHRSA did publish a response to that there's an article with all the talking points that some of you may use, with your members and with your elected officials, you can find that, of course, at ihrsa.org.

IHRSA Member Value Survey Results Are In

Also, last week, I touched on the fact—and thank you for completing—a survey that we sent out to members, both club operators and suppliers, about the value that IHRSA brings to you. The top three things we've heard back through the survey, that all of you feel are the most valuable things that IHRSA provides are, no surprise, the annual Convention & Trade Show is one of those. Also research and education, both hand-in-hand. And then finally, the CBI magazine, which many of you still appreciate receiving. And oh, by the way, you appreciate it not only digitally, but you also would like to see it continue in print. So thanks for your feedback. We'll definitely take that to heart as we continue forward reimagining our association.

Latest Research Results

I do want to share some of the latest research that's out there that's been being put on and coordinated by IHRSA.

One is an exciting new consumer research report conducted by Kelton which is a third party market analysis group. And I want to share some of the data from that, some numbers if you will, and it's called the COVID Era Fitness Consumer Report. You can get the entire report at IHRSA.org if you'd like, but here's a few highlights:

  • First, nearly all—95% of gym-goers—miss at least one aspect of being physically at their gym.
  • 70% of gym members said they rely on the clubs to maintain their overall health.
  • 57% of members said they were less active while their clubs were closed. And I found this really, really interesting and quite powerful.
  • The only thing those surveyed said they miss more than being at their gym was seeing their loved ones.

So the gym ranked above going out to eat, going to movie theaters, going to concerts going to sporting events, that people are missing their gyms which is great news for all of us, of course.

Another study that's just coming out, this study also was conducted with a third party called Emicity, which is a market research firm. Here's some of their findings:

  • 75% of fitness-oriented people relied on their gyms and health clubs to maintain their overall sense of wellbeing.
  • 86% report at least one negative health change, personally since their clubs or gyms had closed.

And finally, some encouraging news, [members] were asked about the digital tools available—the online platforms, and to be able to work out in their homes—and the majority of those surveyed said absolutely, they're using some of those, but they see that as an addition to their gym membership, not instead of. So I see those working in concert together.

Health Clubs to Stay Open in Scotland Despite Rise of COVID Cases

[In] Scotland, although there's been a rise in cases of COVID and there's a spike that's happening with the second wave that they're having there, the leadership and elected officials there in Scotland have come out with a statement saying they're going to keep health clubs and gyms open, because they feel like the value there is greater than the risk of contracting COVID. Can we say amen to that.

Beware of Scams on the Rise

And then last, and sadly, [it’s that] time of year now where there's more and more scams that are happening. These of course are happening just with phone calls, emails, but it's hitting clubs as well. I've had several clubs report to me in the last week that they're receiving emails in their business offices, or administrative offices, with individuals seeking to gain banking information, or credit card information from the health clubs pretending to be your members, and asking to help clear up some, you know, invoicing or billing errors. So if you haven't done this already, please reach out to your own business offices and administrative people and caution them about, of course ever giving out that information, but also just be a little more aware.

Thanks again for tuning in this week. More updates next week. Thanks a lot.

Related Articles & Publications

  • The COVID Era Fitness Consumer

  • Coronavirus Resources for Health Clubs

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

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.