Make the Active & Safe Commitment—an initiative to reaffirm the health club industry’s unyielding dedication to safety. Learn more!

COVID Data & Research for Health Clubs

IHRSA has compiled resources and evidence to support the assertion that health clubs are safe and vital.

Health Clubs Are Safe & Exercise Is Vital

The assumption that health and fitness clubs are a high-risk environment for COVID-19 infections is widespread. While we cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID-19 in fitness centers—or anywhere in society—evidence suggests health clubs are not primary drivers of transmission, and that the exercise and social support they provide are vital to health and well-being.

Supporting Evidence from Around the World

Contact tracing in several U.S. states, including Colorado, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and Washington shows that health clubs make up a small proportion of total outbreaks and cases.

In a U.K. study, individuals with the highest risk lifestyle factors (smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity) were four times as likely as those with the lowest risk lifestyles to have COVID-19. Unhealthy lifestyles could be attributed to 51% of severe COVID-19 cases among the population.

A study from Boston University School of Public Health found that depression rates tripled during COVID-19, going from around 8.5% pre-pandemic to 27.8%.

Industry Data Shows Low Incidence of COVID-19 Exposure in Clubs

Gyms and leisure facilities in England have seen more than eight million visits in the first three weeks since reopening, and just 17 positive COVID-19 cases, ​according to data from ukactive (8/25).

A study in Australia which included 6.26 million check-ins across 423 gyms over a period of two months (June 13 - August 11) found zero cases of community transmission associated with gyms.

A U.S. industry survey conducted by MXM, consisting of 2,877 health and fitness clubs, reports a mere 1,155 COVID-19 cases out of 49.4 million check-ins as of August 7. These findings break down to an occurrence rate of 0.002%.

Key COVID-19 Studies and Statistics, Explained

IHRSA explains key studies, breaking down what they found (and didn’t find) and what it means for health clubs, and refuting inaccurate media narratives.

Study: Capacity Limits Reduce Community COVID Transmission
A study conducted at Stanford University and published in Nature was widely reported to suggest gyms are a high-risk venue, but the key findings point to a different conclusion—namely that gyms are less risky than many other indoor places studied and capacity limits are an effective way to reduce transmission while mitigating economic harm.

CDC: Close Contact, Dining Out (Not Clubs) Linked to COVID-19
A recent CDC study has been misconstrued to support the argument that gyms along with bars and restaurants are high-risk settings for transmission of COVID-19. In fact, the study found no statistically significant link between COVID-19 test results and visiting a gym (among other community activities).

3 Key Stats Show Role Health Clubs Play in Safeguarding Health
Did health club members stay active while the club was closed? Are they ready to return? Insights from four key global fitness markets provide some answers.

Medical Experts Weigh In

The physical, mental, and emotional damage from the pandemic is increasing nationwide. Experts are pushing data and facts to keep gyms open as part of a solution to fight the negative effects brought on by the virus, lockdowns, and isolation.

Consumer Data: There’s No Substitute for Health Clubs

At the peak of the pandemic, nearly all health and fitness clubs were closed in the United States. Data from the Physical Activity Council showed that roughly half of all Americans reported a decline in physical activity while health and fitness centers were closed; 57% of U.S. members said they were less active while their fitness clubs were closed. Health clubs play an essential role in the physical fitness and well-being of consumers.

The COVID Era Fitness Consumer is a report based on a study of American health club members commissioned by IHRSA and conducted by Kelton. The report discusses health club user sentiment and behavior prior to, during, and after facility closures.

COVID Era Fitness Consumer COVER

The COVID Era Fitness Consumer

The COVID Era Fitness Consumer is a report based on a study of American health club members commissioned by IHRSA and conducted by Kelton. The report discusses health club user sentiment and behavior prior to, during, and after facility closures.

GET THE REPORT

Demonstrating the Industry’s Commitment to Safeguarding Employee & Member Health with Safety Protocols

The key to opening, staying opening, and reopening after a surge requires proving to public health officials that clubs have taken the necessary steps to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID. These measures include:

  • Appropriate screening and contact tracing protocols in place
  • Risk mitigation measures including social distancing, capacity limitations, masks, etc.
  • Evidence-based cleaning, sanitation, and air quality practices
  • Employees and members take an active role in safety measures

Getting and keeping open requires data to prove clubs are safe but also demonstrations of what clubs are doing. Here are some key tools, in addition to the guidelines created locally, that demonstrate the safety of clubs.

IHRSA Active & Safe

The IHRSA Active & Safe Commitment is an initiative to reaffirm the health club industry’s unyielding dedication to safety. The commitment was developed by industry experts in accordance with the foremost public health guidance.

Medical, Science, & Health Experts Speak Up for Exercise & Health Clubs

The need to strengthen the ties between health and fitness clubs and the medical, science, and health communities has never been greater. IHRSA is recruiting members of the Medical Science and Health Advisory Council. To learn more read the full press release.

Key COVID-19 Research Explained

Study: Capacity Limits Reduce Community COVID Transmission
A study conducted at Stanford University and published in Nature was widely reported to suggest gyms are a high-risk venue, but the key findings point to a different conclusion—namely that gyms are less risky than many other indoor places studied and capacity limits are an effective way to reduce transmission while mitigating economic harm.

What the Fitness Industry Can Learn from a COVID-19 Outbreak
Following an outbreak of COVID at a spin studio in Canada, IHRSA outlines what the industry needs to know about super-spreading events and measures clubs can take to prevent widespread COVID-19 transmission in fitness facilities.

Global Data Show COVID-19 Transmission in Gyms is Rare
Data from three countries show that gyms are successfully implementing risk mitigation measures and not spreading COVID-19.

Early Data: Airborne SARS-CoV-2 Not Detected in Florida Gym
In an ongoing study at the University of Florida, researchers are conducting air quality tests to determine if SARS-CoV-2 is detectable in aerosol form. Findings from multiple samplings at Gainesville Health and Fitness show no detectable SARS-CoV-2 present.

CDC: Close Contact, Dining Out (Not Clubs) Linked to COVID-19
A recent CDC study has been misconstrued to support the argument that gyms along with bars and restaurants are high-risk settings for transmission of COVID-19. In fact, the study found no statistically significant link between COVID-19 test results and visiting a gym (among other community activities).

Safety & Efficacy of Masks & Face Coverings During Exercise
More studies are revealing the effectiveness of wearing face coverings to stem the spread of COVID-19. Learn what researchers are discovering as you develop your health club's mask policy.

While Informative, South Korean COVID-19 Study Has Limited Applicability
Media and policymakers continue to cite a COVID-19 transmission study that, while informative, has limited applicability to the current health club environment.

Research Shows Health Clubs Are Safer Than You Think
Contrary to popular belief, early research suggests health clubs may pose no additional risk in transmitting coronavirus compared to other public places.

3 Key Stats Show Role Health Clubs Play in Safeguarding Health
Did health club members stay active while the club was closed? Are they ready to return? Insights from four key global fitness markets provide some answers.

University Research: Gyms Are Low Risk for COVID Transmission
Findings from the University of Oregon’s Consulting Group (OCG) demonstrates that health clubs do not pose the same risk as other venues like bars and restaurants. An analysis of Colorado data shows no statistically significant link between fitness club attendance and COVID-19 cases.