U.S. Fitness Industry Lost $20.4 Billion in 2020, Comeback on Horizon, Per IHRSA Report

After generating record revenue of $35 billion in 2019, the U.S. fitness industry generated just $15 billion in 2020, a loss of about $20.4 billion or 58 percent due to temporary club closures and restricted capacities mandated by local and state governments to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to The 2021 IHRSA Global Report.

However, the industry is primed for a strong comeback, the report noted, pointing to seven reasons for optimism: U.S. clubs saw 75 percent to 80 percent of members returning in the first few months of 2021, health is now a higher priority for Americans, consumers have an increased desire to get back into gyms and experience community after being in lockdown, displaced members from closed clubs are looking for new exercise options, consumers view online workout options as an add-on to gym memberships rather than as a replacement, and the industry streamlined during the pandemic and adopted more digital offerings to create a more mature industry. In addition, many market analysts and industry investors have indicated they see a positive future for the industry, and several national and regional club operators have received investments to expand.

“Many surviving clubs in these markets have already seen significant increases in membership, outpacing pre-pandemic numbers,” Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s publisher and executive vice president of global products, said in a media release about the report. “As we look to the future, all signs point to a strong comeback for the fitness industry.”

The optimism is too late for 17 percent of U.S. health clubs that had to permanently close during the pandemic. The permanent closure data was as of Dec. 31, 2020, and came from payment processing companies in the industry.

Recovery for the industry will take a long time for some parts of the world and some segments of the industry, but for clubs in areas less affected by the pandemic or those that received more relief from governments, the recovery will be more immediate, according to the report.

The report highlights the biggest news in the industry from the past year, including a summary of how the pandemic impacted the industry. It also offers a timeline of the pandemic’s impact on the industry, including a timeline of closures and restrictions as well as the performance of the publicly traded companies in the industry. In addition, the report includes profiles of more than 300 health club companies as well as profiles of industry suppliers from around the world.

The report can be downloaded here. IHRSA members receive a discount on the report.