COVID-19 Shakes Up The Fitness Industry, Perhaps For Good

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SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO) – Gyms usually see a drop in traffic every February as people abandon their New Year’s fitness goals, but visits have been down all year because of the Coronavirus.

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Chrissy Mason, one of the owners of the Take Charge Strength Studio in Mexico, said the past year has been tough. They saw a 20% drop from 2019 after the state forced gyms to close down for several months. Even after these fitness facilities were allowed to reopen, Mason said things did not return to normal.

“We have some clients who are very skittish about being around other people,” Mason said.  “We used to have 10-17 people in a class and now we still struggle to get 6-8 people in each class.”

Surveys reflect that this is a nationwide trend. Some people are awaiting safer conditions while others are done with their gym memberships entirely, deciding to keep their fitness routine at home. As a result, sports equipment businesses like the Syracuse Fitness Store saw a surge in orders over the past year. Owner Andy Venditti said his sales doubled from 2019.

“We had both ends of it – I had people that just had hip or knee replacement to where they had to do something when everything was shut down and then we had your traditional gym rats who go to the gym seven days a week that didn’t have that option, so they were kind of going out of their mind and buying whatever they could get their hands on,” Venditti said.

Demand was so high last year that manufacturers are still making the equipment that the Syracuse Fitness Store and other businesses ordered last fall. And Venditti says sales have not dropped off in 2021. His customers say they’re not ready to go back to the gym or they already tried and found it difficult to workout with a mask.

But Mason said gym owners can survive this shift to at-home workouts by getting creative.

“With everybody who has gone out and bought their at-home gym equipment, they’ve got all of these things now that they want to stay home and work out, but they might not necessarily have the knowledge to do it,” Mason said. “So, that’s where we come into play is where fitness facilities and personal training studios and gyms really need to basically grow with the times and start doing virtual trainings.”