At the start of Covid-19, the fitness industry, notably brick-and-mortar gyms, was among the most impacted. Because gyms and fitness studios are high-touch enterprises, they were the first to be compelled to close in the United States due to the fear of Coronavirus transmission. Although the long-term effects are unknown, the short-term effects have undoubtedly been disastrous for many. Gym and studio owners, expert trainers, and support personnel have all been laid off in large numbers. 

However, not all fitness company owners and operators share these sentiments or have had similar experiences. Some are still struggling, while others have closed their doors. It’s important to recall how we got here, expecting that 2021 would be better than 2020 and acknowledging that the industry may need several years to recover from the effects of COVID-19. 

According to the National Health & Fitness Alliance, 22% of US health clubs and studios have closed permanently since the COVID-19 epidemic began, and the US fitness sector has lost $29.2 billion in sales (NHFA). 

Highlights of impact on fitness industry

  • Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the mandatory shutdown of health clubs in several states to try to stem the virus’s spread, the fitness sector had seen ten years of revenue growth.  
  • According to the NHFA, the industry’s revenue plummeted 52 percent in 2020 compared to 2019, resulting in a loss of $29.2 billion in sales from March 2020 to June 2021.


Some folks got their exercise outside and at home since they didn’t have access to health and fitness centers. It wasn’t the same, though. According to The COVID Era Fitness Consumer, it was tough for fitness customers to keep motivated without their gym. According to a research, California’s closures had a disproportionately negative impact on low-income people’s physical activity levels. Not everyone has the financial means to invest in workout equipment, a trail bike, or all-weather running gear. 


Health and fitness clubs are unrivalled in the industry. Gyms and studios provide the setting, equipment, and responsibility that are necessary for healthy behavioral change, and many of them are inexpensive.  


Restrictions continued to impact gyms 

According to some reports, 2021 got off to a good start—member traffic was up in January 2021 compared to December 2020, but still down compared to January 2020. According to payment processing providers, member joins are down 30-40% in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020. Visits and reservations are also down in Q1 2021 compared to Q1 2020. 



As of this writing, the failure percentage for studios is 19 percent, while the failure rate for clubs is 14 percent. Health and fitness facilities continue to be crippled by closures, limitations, and expenditures needed to comply with requirements and enhance ventilation. Many sector personnel who have lost their employment may be out of a job for good due to low staffing levels. Fitness establishments will continue to face limitations in 2021, as well as a sluggish vaccination distribution. 


Loss of Revenue 

Revenue loss was undoubtedly a role in the permanent closure of 22 percent of health clubs and studios since 2019. 

According to the National Health and Fitness Association, nearly 1.5 million individuals lost their jobs in the industry as a result of the interim closures and subsequent permanent closures of health clubs and studios. This translates to 47 percent of the industry’s jobs. 

According to a research by IHRSA, 94% of people who are active exercisers said they would return to their gyms, and a June poll of 2,000 people in key U.S. markets indicated that over 50% want to return within the next six to 12 months. 

Following the trend 

Virtual classes have become the norm, keeping the fitness industry’s heart pounding. Given the Covid-19 context, the rising tendency in accessing digital content against physical gym attendance was almost unavoidable. But the issue remains: how long will it last? Is this shift sufficient to determine the destiny of gyms and studios? Also, which kind of fitness classes appear to be the most promising on the internet? The majority of the virtual appointments have been for yoga, which requires little more than a mat. As a result, yoga has grown in popularity and is predicted to be a lucrative business. Virtual reality gym training has helped to raise the bar, but heavy-equipment sessions are sorely missed. 

Relief for Fitness Industry 

Efforts to advocate for assistance are still ongoing. Operators’ financial predicament was not adequately addressed by PPP. Any slight change in income can have a significant impact on a fitness club’s bottom line because it is a fixed-cost business. Gyms and studios were on the verge of closing due to ongoing closures and limitations. Those who survived are still dealing with the fallout. 


Good news is, gym owners can claim whatever they lost in the last 2 years in the form of Employee Retention Tax Credits (ERC or ERTC). It is a government aided provision of finances to business owners who have been impacted due to COVID.  


Check out if your gym is eligible or not–> Click here to check eligibility