Nearly One-Third of All Gym-Goers Have Still Not Returned to the Gym Since the Pandemic

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UpSwell Marketing’s recent fitness survey revealed many still have not returned to the gym and don’t currently have plans to rejoin

MARIETTA, Ga. /PRNewswire/ — UpSwell Marketing, a full-service marketing agency focused on helping gyms attract new members and improve member retention, today released the results of their recent fitness consumer survey. These insights help to uncover the new mindset and behaviors of former gym-goers after the fallout of the pandemic.

Gym memberships have seen a resurgence since restrictions were lifted and many fitness centers reopened. However, the industry is still recovering from the pandemic. UpSwell’s survey found that while 50% of respondents returned to the gym within 9 months of restrictions lifting, nearly a third (27.71%) of all respondents still have not yet returned to the gym, and 31.23% are working out less in 2022. Of those who have not yet returned, 26.9% stated they don’t have current plans to return.

“Many gym owners are still struggling to recover from the expenses brought on by the pandemic.”

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According to Eric Goodstadt, Chief Executive Officer at UpSwell, “Many gym owners are still struggling to recover from the expenses brought on by the pandemic. On top of that, gyms face many new operating challenges within the fitness industry and more competition than before the pandemic. By understanding what would motivate customers to rejoin a gym and the deciding factors affecting those decisions, gyms will see a bigger surge in attendance and new memberships.”

The survey revealed that those who have not rejoined a gym are most motivated by steep pricing promotions (31.58%), extra safety precautions, and enhanced cleaning (11.11%). Offering childcare, classes, and vaccine or mask mandates were not as motivating. The biggest deciding factors these customers plan to look for in a new gym included convenience of location (60.65%), new member pricing (43.98%), and the type of equipment offered (39.81%).

While these are all reasons they may choose to rejoin a gym, respondents also valued additional services and benefits of joining one gym over another. The following offerings were highly ranked for generating interest and would persuade them to join or interact with a new fitness studio:

  • The ability to bring guests and workout buddies regularly as a part of their membership plan.
  • Membership flexibility with the option to pause or put their membership on hold when necessary.
  • Significant price discounts for new members, such as joining for $1 or no fees for 3 months.
  • Enhanced locker room facilities, including whirlpools, towel service, and grooming products.

While fitness companies struggle to maintain membership momentum in a post-pandemic world, the potential for growth is still there. Two-thirds of those who have not yet rejoined a gym still plan to return, and the survey showed that social media ads and direct mail are a powerful combination to engage with prospects. Creating a compelling strategy using proven marketing methods is a great way to entice these former gym-goers to return.

The fitness survey was conducted in 2022 with a total of 617 respondents in the United States between the ages of 18 – 69, all of which held a gym membership before the onset of Covid-19. To learn more about this survey or get additional insights, reach out to [email protected].

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About UpSwell

UpSwell is one of the largest direct response marketing agencies in the United States, specializing in serving the unique needs of the small business community. Founded in 2008, UpSwell represents more than 15,000 independent and franchise small businesses helping our clients acquire millions of new customers every year.


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