A year ago, at the start of the lockdowns, we found that nearly 50% of gym members didn’t plan to return to their gyms upon reopening and that more than 10% had canceled their memberships.
A follow-up study in August found that the cancelation rate continued to increase and that less than a third of members had actually returned by that point.
Now, in March of 2021, we have surveyed 11,193 members from 142 countries to learn how many gym members plan to return to working out at the gym when vaccinated, how their membership status has changed, and how many are currently going to the gym.
- 70.97% of gym members are still not exercising at their gyms
- 27.52% of gym members globally and 34.94% in the US don’t intend on returning, even after being vaccinated
- 55.57% of gym members have either canceled (29.80%) or paused (25.76%) their memberships
- Less than half (48.24%) said they would return when they themselves are vaccinated
- Another 24.24% will return, but not until their family, friends, and loved ones are also vaccinated
Table of Contents:
- How many members will return after being vaccinated
- Changes in gym membership status since the pandemic
- How many members that have canceled will return post-covid vaccine
- How many members are currently going to the gym
- United States data: A breakdown of results by state
US gym members are the least likely to return to the gym upon vaccination, with 34.94% stating they wouldn’t return.
The countries with the most members looking to return after being vaccinated are Ireland (18.97%) and Great Britain (20.77%).
48.24% of members globally stated they would return to their gym when they themselves were vaccinated. While another 24.24% are waiting until their family, friends, and loved ones are also vaccinated before they return.
Gyms in countries where vaccine distribution is lagging behind can expect to have a slower return of members.
When gym members were asked how their membership status has changed since the start of the pandemic, 55.57% stated that they had either canceled their membership (29.80%) or paused it (25.76%).
Canada had the highest membership cancelation rate, with 32.88% of gym goers calling it quits.
The two of the largest markets for gyms are the US and the UK, which both have been hit hard. The US experienced a 31.63% loss in membership, with another 15.80% of members having paused.
Great Britain and Ireland saw similar cancellation rates to the US (28.20% and 32.31% respectively). The distinct difference being that a significantly larger percentage of members have paused their memberships (46.31% in GB and 49.23% in IE).
Australia has fared the best, with only a third of their members deciding to cancel (21.37%) or pause (11.97%).
When those that canceled were asked if they planned to return to the gym after being vaccinated, 51.90% of members globally said no.
The country where canceled members are least likely to return is the US (53.31%). This number is lowest for countries like Canada (42.47%) and Australia (44.00%).
In previous studies, we tracked return rates to gyms, seeing only 30.98% of gym members stating that they had returned to their gym as of August, 2020.
A year after the start of the pandemic and 8 months since our last study, the return rate is not looking any better.
As of now, only 29.03% of members said they are back at their gym.
The two countries that are above the global average are the United States (35.26%) and Australia (52.99%).
Countries like Great Britain, Ireland, and Canada are experiencing significantly lower return rates, ranging from only 10.77% to 15.32%.
How many members will return after being vaccinated
In the US, the percentage of gym members that won’t return after being vaccinated ranges from 16.67% to 43.75%.
The states with the most members stating they wouldn’t return after being vaccinated are:
- Arizona (43.75%)
- Michigan (43.59%)
- North Carolina (41.67%)
- New Jersey (41.03%)
- Indiana (40.74%)
The states with the most members stating they would return after being vaccinated are:
- Colorado (83.33%)
- Ohio (72.41%)
- Virginia (71.88%)
- New York (71.76%)
- Tennessee (71.43%)
Changes in gym membership status since the pandemic
In the US, the percentage of members that have paused or canceled their memberships ranges from 33.87% to 63.53%, depending on the state.
The states with the highest percentage of those that canceled or paused are:
- California (63.53%)
- Massachusetts (58.62%)
- Washington (56.14%)
- New Jersey (56.14%)
- North Carolina (54.05%)
Those with the lowest amount of those that canceled or paused are:
- Missouri (42.86%)
- Tennessee (41.03%)
- Florida (37.29%)
- Virginia (34.48%)
- Ohio (33.87%)
When focusing on just the percentage of members that have canceled, the states with the most are New Jersey (42.11%), Maryland (40.48%), Massachusetts (39.66%) while the states with the least are Missouri (20.00%), Ohio (19.35%), and Michigan (17.24%).
How many gym members are actively using the gym?
The number of members that are actively exercising at their gyms currently range as low as 19.22% to as high as 53.23%.
The states with lowest percentage of active gym members are:
- California (19.22%)
- Washington (21.05%)
- Massachusetts (25.86%)
- Maryland (26.19%)
- New York (29.75%).
While the states that have the highest percentage of gym members actively exercising at their gyms are:
- Ohio (53.23%)
- Tennessee (46.15%)
- Virginia (44.83%)
- Florida (43.22%)
- Colorado (41.46%)
Despite beliefs that the COVID-19 vaccine would bring us back to normalcy and save the gym industry, it’s clear that is not the case.
While countries work on vaccine manufacturing, distribution, and administration, gyms continue to struggle. Our previous report showed that a fifth of gyms were still closed as of September of 2020, which aligned with the IHRSA’s report predicting that 25% of gyms may be permanently closed by the end of last year.
As we continue into Q2 of 2021, the struggle to remain open, keep members engaged, and retain members will continue. Even as vaccines are distributed, it is clear that just the individual being vaccinated will not be enough for all members to return, seeing how nearly a quarter of members are waiting for their friends, family, and loved ones to also be vaccinated.
The longer the vaccination process takes, the more likely we are to continue seeing people move away from gyms, gyms shutting their doors, and a new normal in the fitness industry to arise.
For additional data, stats, and trends, be sure to check out our other research:
- Fitness Trends 2021: New Trends in Fitness [Global Report]
- Average Gym Membership Cost 2021 [Gym Price Analysis]
- Gym Membership Statistics, Facts, and Trends [2020/2021]
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