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.

    The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pummel the health and fitness industry. The latest data shows health clubs, gyms, and studios continue to close at alarming rates, demonstrating the fitness industry's dire need for financial assistance. Tens of thousands of facilities have permanently closed, with thousands more at risk 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 new data proves that time is quickly running out for health and fitness facilities, and illustrates why economic relief is critical for the industry.

    “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 Clark is optimistic 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 urges 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 continue to work with GYMS Act Champion Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) to clinch 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 must push 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 close, more Americans are left without access to safe and affordable exercise options.

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    Take Action to #SaveOurGyms

    Our industry understands the dire need for relief, but Congress leaves health and fitness facilities out to dry. The bottom line is that America’s health clubs, gyms, and studios need direct relief now.

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

    Please participate in this refreshed one-click campaign and share this link with your network—staff, members, partners, etc.

    Even if you and your fellow advocates have already participated in our one-click campaign before, please do so again! We need all the attention we can get from Congress, and with more actions taken, our 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 notices the fitness industry and our needs, use #SaveOurGyms in all your advocacy-related social media posts.

    We cannot let up until Congress provides health clubs, gyms, and studios with financial support.

    Author avatar

    Sami Smith

    Sami Smith is IHRSA's Communications and Public Relations Assistant. On a typical day, she delivers communications and creates content for IHRSA's advocacy efforts, while working to shape IHRSA and the fitness industry's public image on multiple platforms. Outside of the office, you can find her traveling to new areas, indulging in food, or participating in just about any sport.