Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday will ease restrictions on many N.C. businesses, but the damage to many — most notably bars — has already been done.
Gyms, too, have suffered during the pandemic, as many have closed and others are struggling with reduced membership.
RunRepeat, which specializes in shoes for athletes and studies the fitness industry, recently 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 now going to the gym, the company says in a news release.
The survey found 70.97% of gym members are still not exercising at their gyms, and almost 35% of gym members in the U.S. have no plans to return. About 56% of gym members have either canceled (29.80%) or paused (25.76%) their memberships.
“In previous studies,” RunRepeat says, “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 eight months since our last study, the return rate is not looking any better.”
North Carolina didn’t do well. It’s third-worst among states in regard to returning members. About 42% say they won’t return to the gym, even after being vaccinated. By comparison, in Colorado, 83% said they would return after getting a vaccine.
The states with the highest percentage of people who canceled or paused their memberships were: California (63.53%), Massachusetts (58.62%), Washington (56.14%), New Jersey (56.14%), and North Carolina (54.05%) .
“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,” the study says. “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 2020, which aligned with the [International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association] report predicting that 25% of gyms may be permanently closed by the end of last year.”
Cooper closed N.C. gyms last March before opening them, for indoor use, at 30% capacity in September.
“He’ll reopen, but the damage is done,” Concord gym owner Steve Pinkerton presciently told Carolina Journal then. “It will take people months before they’re comfortable coming back to a gym. People have this misconception that you can switch, open, and everything will be good. It’s not.”