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Gym Memberships are up, but visits are down!

A little over 2 years ago, our lives were impacted in a way we could never imagine. Economies were shut down, businesses were forced to close and humans were forced to stay in their homes for weeks on end in an attempt to slow the impact of the Covid-19 virus. During this time, gyms were forced to close and members were forced to find alternative solutions to staying fit, active and healthy. Many made use of YouTube videos and online Zoom calls with their friends and family, while others had the privilege of having access to connected fitness platforms such as Peloton and Tonal in their homes.


As we made our way out of the pandemic, society began to crave what we’d been restricted to for so long… human interaction. Restrictions lifted, businesses re-opened and the conscious decision to adopt a healthier and more active lifestyle in a post-pandemic era was evident among societies all around the world. In the USA in particular, Planet Fitness saw its membership base, revenue figures and stock price achieve all-time highs as people rushed back to gyms to start their journey towards living happier and healthier lives. All while Peloton saw its stock price drop to a low of $8.34 from a high of $162.72 in December 2020. In the USA, some new data from IHRSA (the health club trade association), broke the news of incredibly high points together with some shockingly, yet unsurprisingly low points.

  • Gym memberships in the USA had reached an all-time high of 66.5m. If you think of that in South African terms, that equates to 1.1 memberships for every individual in the country.

  • The exciting figure attached to that is that the average number of visits per member has decreased by 33%.


While the exact reason for the drop in attendance is inconclusive, we have our beliefs that it could be caused by a few factors:


  • Digital fitness is here to stay - while it may not be the primary or only preference of an individual, providing a service offering that caters to both online and in-person training will allow you to grow your business more effectively. Hybrid fitness is the future and will be a key factor in whether gyms and fitness instructors are able to survive in a turbulent and challenging industry.

  • Gyms aren’t providing enough value - In all the years I’ve been a member of a gym, I’ve never been to one that has offered a complete package, whether it be the offering, timing or availability of classes, the types of machinery, the amenities (sauna, steam rooms), etc. for the large majority, there is always a need for more.

  • Gym members aren’t being held accountable - For the most part, gyms are run as a business. Fees = Revenue. If revenue is sufficient to keep the business growing and steady, they’re not all that concerned about how many times a member comes to the gym. How can gyms hold their members accountable and drive repeat visits in an effort to encourage and develop member performance, while maintaining members' satisfaction? This is something community gyms do well, but conventional weight lifting gyms struggle with.

So while you’re a gym owner, fitness instructor or personal trainer, or just an everyday exerciser, you may want to consider the above in your decision-making process when deciding what services to offer clients or to make use of as a client. At Forte, we provide our specialists with a platform that allows individual health and fitness instructors to grow and manage their personal fitness business through a simple and easy-to-use app. Our app gives them the ability to host 1-1 sessions or group classes at various times in different environments i.e. at a gym, outdoors or online. We provide individuals with a variety of highly qualified specialists with varying specialities so that they can make an informed decision as to which specialist would be best to help them on their journey. Not to mention, our Fitness Community has been designed to help people stay accountable as we encourage daily health and fitness activity and reward the top 3 most active individuals at the end of each month. Furthermore, if a community member achieves an activity level of >85%, they are rewarded with R100 in Forte Credit to use on a future session with a specialist. So what are you waiting for? Take control of your health and fitness journey and join the Forte Community.


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