Preliminary Reports Show Improved Performance for Public Health Club Companies in 2021

The January rush is not as robust as many had hoped, IHRSA CEO Liz Clark told the Today Show on Jan. 6. That may be due to people having concerns about omicron, the latest variant of COVID-19, and a growing number of people testing positive for it or in quarantine due to exposure to it.

“Before this last variant, our gyms were somewhere between 65 and 70 percent at capacity, which is about breaking even,” she said. “We are really, really struggling.”

Despite concerns about how this latest COVID wave may be impacting new joins in January, three of the public health clubs in the U.S. market and one private company, CrossFit, shared preliminary 2021 numbers that indicate some hope for growth for the industry.

“Through the fourth quarter, we didn't see any negative sentiment or negative reaction to member workouts or member joins or cancellations for that matter,” Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau said on Jan. 10 at a presentation that was part of the virtual ICR Conference 2022.

Not only did the company not see an impact from the omicron variant, but it also didn’t see one from the delta variant earlier in the year, he said. COVID fatigue, more broadly distributed vaccines and preliminary indications that the omicron variant appears to be less deadly are giving people peace of mind about returning to health clubs, Rondeau said.

“But I think people also realize that health and fitness is essential and it's important,” he added. “When you look at who this has affected most and in most extreme cases, it's mostly people who have pre-existing conditions and, in most cases, are overweight or obese.”

Coming out of COVID, people are going to be looking for ways to be healthier, and with 22 percent of health clubs permanently closed, they have fewer places to go, which means greater opportunity for remaining club operators to attract them, he said.

Forty percent of Planet Fitness members are first timers, and 30 percent of their joins are rejoins, he said. In the past, 20 percent of new joins were rejoins.

“So people are coming back faster than ever, not choosing home fitness by any means,” Rondeau said.

Planet Fitness shared preliminary membership numbers for 2021, noting when clubs had to temporarily close in March 2020 due to COVID-19, the company had 15.5 million members. Membership numbers dropped from there, but in 2021, Planet added 1.7 million net new members, climbing back to 15.2 million members at the end of 2021, which was ahead of expectations.

“We’re almost back to where we started,” Rondeau said.

The company also was ahead of expectations on new club openings for the year, opening 132 new locations, giving it 2,254 locations worldwide. No Planet Fitness club permanently closed during the pandemic, he said.

"We exceeded our expectations for both member and new store growth in 2021,” Rondeau said in a media release. “The silver lining of the pandemic is that it opened people's eyes to the importance of fitness and overall health, and we're seeing members who are visiting our stores are visiting more frequently than in the past, demonstrating their commitment to improving their health."

Planet Fitness wasn’t the only public brand offering some rosy numbers. Xponential Fitness and F45 Training, both of which went public in July 2021, released preliminary results on revenue, memberships, new club openings and more.

Xponential Fitness’ preliminary numbers, which are as follows, represent only North America and do not include BFT, which the company purchase in October, except for the studios opened and licenses sold:

  • 2021 revenue in the range of $147 million to $148.5 million (consensus $148.07 million)
  • Adjusted EBITDA in the range of $25 million to $26 million
  • North America system-wide sales in the range of $690 million to $700 million
  • New studio openings in the range of 230 to 250
  • Surpassed 2,100 open studios, and increased total licenses sold to more than 4,400 across 10 brands globally
  • Total members grew by 49 percent year-over-year to 449,000, up from 300,000 in 2020 and 348,000 in 2019
  • Studio visits grew by 54 percent year-over-year to 29.7 million, up from 19.2 million in 2020 and 25.2 million in 2019
  • System-wide sales increased to $708 million, up 60 percent from $442 million in 2020, and up 26 percent from $560 million in 2019
  • Same store sales grew 41 percent, up from (34 percent) in 2020 and 9 percent in 2019
  • Fourth quarter 2021 run-rate average unit volume of $446,000, compared to $286,000 in fourth quarter 2020 and $477,000 in fourth quarter 2019

“Xponential Fitness delivered strong results in the fourth quarter of 2021, in which we continued to grow system-wide sales, total members and studio visits,” said Anthony Geisler, Chief Executive Officer of Xponential Fitness, Inc. “As a result of the resiliency and momentum of our business, we expect to meet or exceed the high-end of our full year 2021 outlook. Despite concerns over the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the demand for our boutique fitness offering remains strong, as existing and new members seek out safe and effective workout regimens to maintain their physical wellbeing. We are grateful for the success of our franchise partners this past year and are looking forward to building upon this momentum in 2022.”

F45 Training’s preliminary expected results for fiscal 2021 are:

  • Total revenue of $133 million to $136 million for the full year vs. a prior outlook for $132 million to $137 million, representing 62 percent to 66 percent growth over the prior year period
  • Same store sales increased by 12 percent globally and 42 percent in the United States compared to 2020
  • System-wide sales increased by 36 percent globally and 96 percent in the United States compared to 2020
  • System-wide visits increased by 31 percent globally and 103 percent in the United States compared to 2020
  • Net new studio openings totaled approximately 310 compared to the previously issued guidance range of 240 to 260.
  • Net new franchises sold totaled approximately 1,040 compared to the previously issued guidance range of 830 to 850.

In addition to preliminary results for fiscal 2021, F45 Training also provided preliminary results for fourth quarter 2021, which include:

  • Same store sales increased by 6 percent globally and 53 percent in the United States.
  • System-wide sales increased by 27 percent globally and 95 percent in the United States.
  • System-wide visits increased by 7 percent globally and 50 percent in the United States.
  • Net new studio openings totaled approximately 130 compared to 61 in the prior year period.
  • Net new franchises sold totaled approximately 275 compared to 30 in the prior year period.

F45 Training President, Chairman and CEO Adam Gilchrist said: "Strong performance during the quarter was driven by continued momentum in new franchise sales, robust equipment sales, and continued strong recovery in studio performance in light of the ongoing pandemic."

CrossFit is not a public company, but it shared growth numbers for 2021 with Morning Chalk Up, a media brand that covers the CrossFit community.

CrossFit affiliates increased by nearly 1,400 globally in 2021, growing from 9,400 affiliates to about 10,800, not including non-paying affiliations in prisons and schools, which would put the total number of CrossFit locations closer to 12,500.

In 2022, CrossFit plans to exceed the company’s highest number of paying affiliations, which was 11,715, the company told Morning Chalk Up. CrossFit is targeting Africa, China, Russia, India and Japan.