How Many Health Clubs, Gyms, and Studios Closed in 2021

    Updated fitness industry data paints a grim picture of the pandemic’s impact on health and fitness facilities. As of January 1, 2022, a total of 30% of studios closed, an 11% increase from the previous year.

    Updated January 10, 2023

    The COVID-19 pandemic pummeled the health and fitness industry. Data shows that health clubs, gyms, and studios continued to close at alarming rates in 2021, demonstrating the fitness industry's dire need for financial assistance. Tens of thousands of facilities have permanently closed, and thousands are still climbing out of the hole without the same access to the relief provided to other industries.

    How Many Gyms Closed Because of the Pandemic?

    Looking at data comparing the number of health clubs, gyms, and studios in operation as of March of 2020—when COVID-19 hit—to those same facilities remaining in operation as of December 31, 2021, we now know January 1, 2022:

    • 25% of all health and fitness facilities closed,

    • 30% of studios closed—an 11% increase since January 1, 2021—and

    • more than 1.5 million industry jobs have been cut.

    Third-party payment processing companies that service 95% of U.S. health clubs, gyms, and studios provided the data for this analysis.

    This data proves that time is quickly ran out for many health and fitness facilities, and illustrates why economic relief could have been critical for the industry. During this time, IHRSA President & CEO Liz Clark expressed the dire need for relief.

    “Congress must act now to save America’s community gyms and studios. With each wave of the pandemic the small business owners in our industry keep getting knocked down, and because of past failures by Congress, each time fewer of them get back up. We can’t wait anymore, especially with the rise of additional COVID variants.”

    Liz Clark

    President & CEO, IHRSA

    We expect closures to continue to climb in Q2 of 2022 due to the Omicron variant, which crushed the typical new year's membership bump. Many facilities were counting on the surge of people interested in working out to stay in business.

    Although Liz held an optimistic standpoint about future financial support, she is baffled that Congress has allowed the pandemic to destroy the American fitness industry. “With the CDC recommending physical exercise as a solution to combating the spread and severity of COVID-19, I am shocked that the Federal government has done so little to support neighborhood gyms and studios,” she said.

    Financial Support Will Keep the Industry Alive & Americans Healthy

    IHRSA strongly urged Congress to listen to the data and provide America’s health clubs, gyms, and studios with a recovery fund similar to the GYMS (Gym Mitigation & Survival) Act. We worked with GYMS Act Champion Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) in hopes of clinching financial support for the industry and ensure gyms are included in the next package.

    “This recent data shows that as COVID has continued to impact the country, gyms and fitness facilities have remained one of the hardest hit industries,” said Quigley. “Congress must provide this struggling industry, that plays a crucial role in Americans’ health, with the vital support it has and continues to need in order to survive.”

    We pushed for Congress to think about the 75 million Americans—members and non-members that consistently use gyms—who rely on health and fitness clubs to stay fit and healthy.

    These facilities promote health equity by providing low-cost access to year-round fitness. As more health clubs, gyms, and studios closed, more Americans were left without access to safe and affordable exercise options.

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    Take Action to #SaveOurGyms

    During this time, we promoted a campaign to #SaveOurGyms. Our industry understood the dire need for relief, but Congress left health and fitness facilities out to dry. The bottom line is that America’s health clubs, gyms, and studios needed direct relief.

    The collective health and fitness industry serves as the best advocates to save our industry.

    At the time, we asked for readers, members, and industry professionals to participate in our one-click campaign and share the link with their network—staff, members, partners, etc.

    Even if participants and their fellow advocates have already participated in our one-click campaign before, we asked for action. We needed all the attention we could get from Congress, and with more actions taken, any campaign gains more traction on the hill.

    These days, social media holds quite a lot of power in gaining politicians’ attention. To create a united front and ensure that Congress noticed the fitness industry and our needs, campaign supporters used #SaveOurGyms in all advocacy-related social media posts.

    We fought a hard battle to provide health clubs, gyms, and studios with financial support, and greatly appreciate everyone who took action. Although the GYMS Act may not have passed as we hoped, several other bills provided pieces of our industry with a portion of funding and grants. Our advocacy efforts will continue in 2023 as we fight for a seat at the table.

    Author avatar

    Sami Smith

    Sami Smith is IHRSA's Senior Manager of Digital Communications, working to shape the organization's image on various digital platforms. On a typical day, she creates content, delivers impactful communications, and executes targeted marketing efforts to keep IHRSA at the forefront of the industry. Outside of the office, you can find her exploring new destinations, indulging in food, or participating in just about any sport.