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    It’s Not All Bad: Fitness Industry Trends in 2020

    2020 was an unprecedented and unfortunate time in many ways. Even through the worst of circumstances, the fitness industry came out stronger, unified, and positive.

    After continuous years of exponential growth, the health and fitness industry was expected to soar to new heights in 2020. We all know how the year actually turned out. Through the pandemic there have been unfortunate events—closures, job loss, health implications, and deaths—but it hasn’t all been dreadful.

    We’ve gathered a considerable amount of wins that health and fitness clubs and suppliers achieved in the past year. Reading these stories, IHRSA is optimistic about the future and expects that the fitness industry will bounce back stronger than ever.

    Fitness Industry Growth in 2020

    It certainly wasn’t an easy year for the fitness industry—thousands of gyms were forced to close their doors for good, file for bankruptcy, lay off staff, and much more. Despite these challenges, many clubs were able to come out more profound and expand their business—or just get started. In 2020, EoS Fitness opened their 24th location in Arizona, Orangetheory opened nearly three dozen studios, and a number of people opened their gym for the first time ever amid the pandemic.

    Sales for at-home equipment boomed, leading to a surge in growth for Gympass and an expansion into Canada for Club Automation. Technogym scored a five-year contract to supply Fitness Time locations with equipment and digital solutions.

    Various examples of industry growth throughout the year:

    Fitness Industry Innovation in 2020

    This past year, innovation for the fitness industry primarily focused on growing or developing on-demand and live streaming options.

    Forming partnerships was also a common trend in the industry this year. To provide members with customizable at-home workouts, Blink Fitness partnered with Sworkit, and Endorphinz brought together several streaming partners so that fitness facilities could continue offering exercise programs to members. Life Time announced it will begin offering Apple Fitness+ to its membership, the first U.S. health and fitness club to do so.

    Other innovations from clubs:

    Fitness Industry Generosity in 2020

    Even through turmoil and calamity—and the potential to file for bankruptcy or permanently closing—the health and fitness industry kept their community’s and members’ safety and health top of mind.

    Amid government mandated closures and greatly reduced capacity upon reopening, clubs chose to use their resources to assist healthcare workers and stop the spread. In Arizona, Mountainside Fitness donated $100,000 to their local Coronavirus Relief Fund and offered two locations to serve as drive-up antibody testing sites. Across the country, the Newtown Athletic Club in Pennsylvania turned their indoor field house to a backup medical site with the capacity to hold over 300 patients. The Edge Fitness Clubs in Orange, CT, donated cleaning supplies to the Yale New Haven Health System.

    More generous contributions from fitness facilities:

    FIR 01 14 21 Fit to Recover Column Width

    A group exercising at a CrossFit Low Oxygen Fit to Recover class. (Photo: Fit to Recover Facebook)

    Fitness Industry Reach in 2020

    With a pandemic ransacking the government and public’s perception of health and fitness clubs, it became essential for the fitness industry to rewrite the narrative once and for all.

    To mark clubs as a vital resource to get and remain healthy, collaboration with medical and public health experts was of the essence. Their support—along with data showing clubs were not guilty of spreading the virus—caught the attention of lawmakers and was a key factor in the reopening of some gyms.

    The globally-recognized authority on lifestyle medicine, David Katz, M.D., joined Self Esteem Brands to amplify the critical role fitness plays in overall health and wellness. Former acting U.S. surgeon general, Kenneth P. Moritsugu, M.D., MPH, published several op-eds in favor of reopening gyms because of their indispensable benefits.

    Additional ways the fitness industry was recognized this year:

    FIR 01 14 21 Piedmont Merit Award Column Width

    (Photo: Power Wellness Website)

    The stories above prove that the fitness industry is resilient through all circumstances. This past year is certainly one to remember, but one that we don’t wish to see again. Here’s to more positivity and growth for the fitness industry—and the rest of the world—in 2021!

    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.