CLEVELAND – The first part of the year is usually when many gyms and fitness centers see a surge in new memberships. Often times, New Year’s resolutions involve more exercise or people looking to shed a few pounds. But that wave of people rushing to the gym to get fit won’t happen in 2021.
Instead, gym owners are struggling with lower attendance due to the pandemic. COVID-19 cases across the country are keeping people at home and managing their physical fitness there.
“It’s been so stressful for people and it’s really wearing people down,” said Linda McVey, director of health initiatives at the YMCA in Greater Cleveland.
McVey said the YMCA had fewer new memberships in January, a time the club usually has a new enrollment special. And while attendance rates are also lower, according to McVey, the YMCA is concerned with reaching members who cannot come to the facilities.
“We have regular phone contact with our older adult members who are uncomfortable,” said McVey. “Our reps actually call them just to check in to see how they’re doing. We send cards and we send notes. We give them virtual platforms to interact with, you know, coffee time that we just go get on the computer and talk to each other. “
In addition, the YMCA has just started a new initiative called “RESET Challenge”. The six-week challenge is free for Y members and community members. To register the text, enter the word “RESET” at 833-320-1759. Individuals who join the challenge will have access to free virtual, on-demand, and personal practice content.
“We know that by working positively, we can make people healthier and stronger mentally and spiritually. So this is our call and we are being reset. We are all going to press that reset button together,” said McVey.
McVey said that as the program will offer virtual workouts, they are starting to notice barriers created by the virtual settings.
“There is this personal interaction that people miss. And while we’re trying to add this to the virtual environment in many different ways, it’s not the same, “she said.
Nick White, the owner of the Tremont Athletic Club, agrees.
“Much of our personal training is now virtual, but we don’t do virtual classes anymore,” he said.
White said his gym had 20% less traffic than a year ago. Part of that is that Americans have invested money in home fitness equipment.
Health and fitness equipment sales more than doubled to $ 2.3 billion from March to October last year, according to NPD retail data.
However, White doesn’t think this trend will continue. “There will be a lot of home fitness equipment just sitting around … it’s not sustainable if it keeps growing like this,” he said.
White said 2020 will be the toughest year as a business owner – he is focused on keeping his employees, as well as his gym members, healthy and safe.
“Nothing has been destroyed. We will come out of it and all of our core team will stay on board,” said White. “We felt we should better focus on improving the facility, building the infrastructure, and really focusing on what we do best in Cleveland, and that, as you know, was personal – our facilities are classes that are our instructors. ”
Although numbers are not where he would like them to be, there is no point in flooding number and data sheets.
“It doesn’t really make sense to compare data during this time, and before that time there won’t be any correlation to help you. You have to start somehow. It’s like reopening the gym, “White said.