This is the time of year when Americans often flock to their local gyms, and replace the carbs in their kitchen with kale. As 2022 begins, however, it seems that another victim of the coronavirus epidemic is a New Year’s resolution. In the food and exercise industry, the omicron would not come at a very bad time. Anxiety about associating with strangers – especially while exercising – is high, and morals are exacerbated as Covid-19 cases increase, leaving the nation feeling a tired deja vu.
“I’m scared to go back to the gym right now because of Covid,” said Stacey Wacknov, a health communications consultant based in Phoenix. “Our immunization rates are alarming,” he said.
Wacknov has a number of companies that are concerned about him: A study published in December 2020 by fitness research club ClubIntel found that 57 percent of people who go to the gym say they have not started their exercise routines before the epidemic are dropping out. I believe the Covid-19 was adequately controlled.
Recent metrics suggest that the omicron may re-launch this effect. According to Placer.ai, a company that tracks traffic foot traffic, gymnastics have dropped by about 12 percent in the week of Dis. 27, 2021 compared to the same week in 2020.
Exercise centers experienced a 12 percent decrease in the week of December 27, 2021 compared to the same week in 2020.
“There’s even more concern about being in a room where people are sweating,” said Ken Leon, director of equity research at the research firm CFRA. “It makes the opportunity still more attractive at home.”
Yet even the one-time “staying at home” stars like Peloton are facing a steep climb. The company’s stock has skyrocketed over the past year and has been going a long way since – indicating that investors’ enthusiasm has reached a critical level.
“With business money coming into the space, it’s not very attractive,” Leon said. “I think, in the end, being strong at home is part of the overall strength. But I think people want to go back to the gym.”
But for this to happen, people need to feel safe – and encouraged. Wacknov said the hope of New Year’s resolutions often seems to create more fatigue than enthusiasm in his community. “I have not made any decisions this year. I think many of us have tried to enter peacefully in 2022, ”he said. “We’re just trying to get over it, and sometimes the challenges because of the challenges can be so many after the last few years.”
Ishia Wilson, who teaches yoga and fitness in New York, said she has seen many students avoid studios as omicron surgery gets worse. “I see students returning to visual classes due to the escalation of conditions,” he said in an online interview.
The challenges just because of the challenges may be even more so in the last few years.
Wilson also saw the “depravity” of some of his clients, adding that he too had fallen victim to depression. “Although I really enjoy the job, I can admit that my motivation for training has diminished a little,” he said.
Liz Clark, president and CEO of IHRSA, the Global Health & Fitness Association, said the timing of the January omicron surgery was a sad single punch in the industry. “It’s such an important month, when people are used to joining gymnasiums,” he said. “And the industry was already struggling before the omicron.”
Traditionally, January has been the center of physical activity for the period between Black Friday and Pre-Christmas Christmas. In a call to the company’s third quarterly wage conference in November, Planet Fitness chief executive Chris Rondeau said 60 percent of new members used to register in the first quarter, with January enrollments comprising “a large portion” of those numbers.
This bad news is even worse for 80 percent of the nation’s small business fitness centers. “Those are the worst hit,” said Mark Williamson, founder and principal of ClubIntel. “They just don’t have the money to save money to deal with the epidemic. Big gyms tend to be the heaviest, ”he said.
Many small gyms and studios have already been conquered by Covid-19. By 2019, there were 41,370 health clubs in the US, according to IHRSA. By mid-2021, that number had dropped by 22 percent, and Clark said initial data showed that many had closed their doors in the coming months.
“In some cases, people do not have their own clubs to return to,” he said. While some fitness centers are taking on new members while other clubs are recruiting, change is often slow – and may not happen at all. “If you are a member of a group, it is different, it is a community that you usually rely on. Finding a new place is something that people consider important, ”said Clark.
Dan Faill, a well-trained speaker and trainer based in Los Angeles, is one of the oldest people to go to the gym and not find a new home with his strenuous efforts. “My favorite gym in the world was closed during the Covid era,” he said. “It took me a while to grieve over the loss.”
Faill said the current omicron surgery lowered his motivation for finding a new place to work. “I don’t look further,” he said. “Here in LA we have another explosion, so I’m still standing still.”
The weight loss business is facing similar challenges. Mindy Grossman, president and CEO of WW International – the giant of the food program known as Weight Watchers – warned by the company’s quarterly earnings call in November that revenue was falling below expectations. He noted the storms facing private company meetings – the basis of a one-time business – and “changing consumer behavior by prioritizing weight loss.”