Fitness Industry Roundup: Gyms Strengthen Voice, Political Ties

One state alliance earns a seat at the table with leadership, 17 fitness brands are recognized in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500, and more.

IHRSA has been touting the importance of relationship building for years, but until the pandemic, it was never so critical to form political relationships. One health and fitness state alliance heard us and made so much headway with their state leadership that they now have a seat at the table when it comes to decision making.

Earning a Seat at the State Leadership Table is Oregon Alliance’s 2021 Triumph

The Oregon Health + Fitness Alliance (OHFA) hosted a meeting earlier in the month to highlight all of its accomplishments in 2021 and share what’s to come in 2022. Liz Clark, IHRSA president & CEO, attended the meeting with numerous other fitness industry professionals. OHFA stated—and we agree—that their “greatest achievement in 2021 was earning a seat at the table with Oregon’s state leadership.” As for 2022 goals, OHFA aims to:

  • Fight for more relief funds for fitness,

  • Shift the perception of “gyms” away from entertainment and recreation to an important part of the health and wellness system,

  • Create strong partnerships between state leadership, fitness industry suppliers, owners and operators of fitness facilities, and fitness professionals, and more.

In a newsletter update, OHFA included an Oregon Health and Science University study that showed a substantial immunity boost after breakthrough infection—otherwise described as super immunity. Although the study is taken from a small sample, it’s a helpful glimpse into the efficacy of the COVID vaccine.

Learn more about OHFA.

Fitness Ranks High in Entrepreneur’s 2022 Franchise 500

Entrepreneur’s 43rd annual Franchise 500 was recently released recognizing 17 health and fitness brands. The brands making the list include IHRSA members (in order of Franchise 500 rating):

  • Planet Fitness (#7),

  • F45 Training (#42),

  • Crunch (#43),

  • Anytime Fitness (#86),

  • Spenga (#380),

  • Jazzercise (#427), and

  • Gold’s Gym (#449).

Planet Fitness not only ranked among the top franchises for the fourth consecutive year, but came in #1 in the fitness category on this year’s list. Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau said, “This recognition demonstrates the strength of our brand, our continued growth, and our ability to democratize fitness with a differentiated model that makes fitness affordable and accessible to all.”

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Non-IHRSA member brands that made the list are Burn Boot Camp, Restore Hyper Wellness, Club Pilates, The Exercise Coach, Pure Barre, 30 Minute HIIT, The Barre Code, i9 Sports, CycleBar, and StretchLab

Check out the full list.

Activity Levels Increase for Those With Fitness Apps, Trackers

Motivation and reinforcement are two factors that keep people active and which are easily accessible through tools that track activity and give feedback in real-time. Per the ABC, a meta analysis found that those with fitness trackers walked on average 1,800 more steps compared to the control group. Melody Ding, an epidemiologist and behavioral change scientist who was part of the research team, said, "Physical inactivity is a global pandemic in itself…I think 1,800 [steps] is a very good start, and we really want people to accumulate more steps, even if it's just 100, a few hundred here and there.” While these findings are encouraging, fitness apps or trackers aren’t obtainable to everyone. Tim Douge, a senior exercise physiologist and co-owner of Studio 99 Fitness in Australia, notes that more needs to be done to keep people active. "What we can do better, and what we should talk about more, is how we make it easier for people to sustain these habits," he said.

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Read more.

Fitness Consumers Form Parasocial Relationships With Instructors

A long-form feature article from The Ringer detailed the crucial relationships fitness consumers built with their instructors over the pandemic. Author Jacqueline Kantor highlights these parasocial relationships—connections formed between an individual and a public figure in which the former comes to feel they know the latter as a personal friend—and their positive impact on a person. Because of how accessible a fitness instructor or influencer’s life is, and how often and easily consumers can engage with instructors, they have a closer relationship than ever with them.” Researcher Carol Laurent Jarzyna, said, “PSI [parasocial interactions] through digital media allowed us to have a sense of togetherness during the quarantine.”

“Research has shown that this type of PSI [between a consumer and fitness instructor] gives us a feeling of belonging, helps us feel closer to our ideal selves, and raises our self-esteem.”

Carol Laurent Jarzyna

Read the full article.

PureGym Group Opens First U.S.-based Health & Fitness Club

This month, PureGym Group opened three Pure Fitness locations, a new gym brand created to “disrupt the U.S. market,” in Tysons Corner, VA, Elkridge, MD, and Springfield, VA. According to Club Industry, each gym has more than 150 pieces of cardio and strength equipment, a Turf Training Freestyle area, and offers over 80 weekly digital and instructor-led classes. “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people than ever are focused on their health and are looking for greater flexibility and value, which presents a huge opportunity for us to welcome both keen gym-goers and beginners to Pure Fitness,” said Humphrey Cobbold, CEO of PureGym Group. Pure Fitness offers memberships starting at $9.99, gives members the option to freeze, leave, and re-join through the Pure Fitness app, allows members to choose the best time to visit the gym, provides contactless entry with a QR scanner, and provides access to a library of 400+ on-demand workouts.

Find out more.

Has your health or fitness-related business been featured in the news recently? We want to know! Send a link to any news article or video that highlighted your business to pr@ihrsa.org, and we may include it in a future issue of the Fitness Industry Roundup.

Author avatar

Sami Smith

Sami Smith is IHRSA's Communications and Digital Content Producer. On a typical day, she delivers communications and creates content to shape IHRSA's image on a variety of digital platforms. Outside of the office, you can find her traveling to new areas, indulging in food, or participating in just about any sport.