IHRSA survey highlights users’ sentiments on the essential role of fitness clubs
A new survey undertaken by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) – ‘The COVID Era Fitness Consumer’ discusses American health club user sentiment and behaviour prior to, during, and after facility closures due to COVID-19.
The ‘COVID Era Fitness Consumer’ is a report based on a study of 1,171 American health club members aged 18 and over who currently have a gym membership, or recently cancelled their gym membership due to COVID-19. The survey was conducted online during the period of 24th to 28th August 2020, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.9%.
The ‘COVID Era Fitness Consumer’ shows how important health clubs are to the fitness and well-being of their members. Users clearly missed their brick-and-mortar fitness clubs as these hubs for physical activity and community were closed for several weeks, if not months.
During club closures, nearly all (95%) users missed at least one aspect of physically being at their health club. 59% said they missed their gyms and fitness centres a lot and overall, the only activity members indicated missing more than their health clubs was visiting loved ones (65%). As a comparison, fewer Americans indicated missing going to concerts or games (55%), bars or restaurants (51%), or seeing movies in theatres (46%).
As gyms closed due to COVID-19, members were forced to change up their routines. While some became creative with at-home workouts, others continued to struggle, as for them,nothing quite compares to being in the gym. Health club and gym users look forward to returning to their gym—and the routines and friendly faces they associate with it—as they push to reach their personal fitness goals.
While at-home workouts have satisfied some, many feel they’re no match for the health club experience. They’re taking note of and are satisfied with the safety precautions their club is taking, leaving many feeling ready to hit the gym again—if they haven’t done so already.
Over pandemic-related shutdowns, an overwhelming majority of fitness club users admitted their routine had changed (85%). A majority went for outdoor walks or runs more often (53%), while some streamed exercise videos at home (33%), and others purchased fitness equipment (29%).
However, 50% of gym goers are dissatisfied with their new fitness routines with 54% finding them less challenging and 53% - less consistent.
95% of nearly all club users miss at least one aspect of physically being at their gym with three things consumers miss about their club including 42% miss working out with other people; 36% miss the sense of community that comes with belonging to a gym and 26% miss having people at the gym cheering them on through a workout.
The report suggests that while it seems there are stressors everywhere in 2020, COVID-19 has been a dominant source of anxiety and worry for millions of Americans. As a result, many are feeling more stressed now than they did at the start of the year - agonising over the state of the world, their communities, and themselves. Many have found that activities like reading, cooking, and, above all, exercising have offered them a way to cope with such a trying time in their lives.
53% of those who have returned to their gym since it reopened say one of their goals in having a membership is to elevate their mood versus 44% of those who have not returned.
Not only do members feel positively about returning to the gym—many feel ready and motivated to do so. They look forward to the physical and mental benefits of working out at their gym again, from building strength and their immune system, improving their flexibility to releasing mood-boosting endorphins. Another significant segment uses their health clubs to maintain (47%) or lose weight (46%).
88% members who have returned to the gym since it reopened express complete confidence in safety precautions and cleanliness procedures. Consumers trust their health clubs to create a clean and safe environment for members and are satisfied with the measures taken already, allowing many to return to their fitness routine with confidence.
More than two-thirds of gym members are aware of the safety measures their gym is taking as part of their reopening strategies (69%). Just as many (69%) feel confident in protocols their gym is putting into practice than those who feel the same about retailers (67%), coffee shops (67%), and indoor dining (62%).
The COVID Era Fitness Consumer shows how important health clubs are to the fitness and well-being of their members. Users clearly missed their brick-and-mortar fitness clubs as these hubs for physical activity and community were closed for several weeks, if not months. Having a membership is tied to the personal goals consumers aim to achieve in life and they trust in the safety protocols fitness centres have implemented.
Now, more than ever, health clubs play an essential role in promoting physical, mental and emotional wellness.
To download IHRSA's ‘COVID Era Fitness Consumer’ report click here
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