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Gyms Contemplate Hybrid Model to Strengthen Operations Post-Pandemic

  • Gyms likely to adopt hybrid models in wake of COVID-19 pandemic
  • Customers have increasingly turned to exercise alternatives, such as virtual classes, due to restrictions and stay-at-home orders
  • In-person exercise maintains appeal, but offering additional services to supplement home exercise could help stabilize revenues

Gyms and fitness centers, one of the business sectors impacted most heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic, are likely to pursue hybrid business models to endure similar crises in the future. This type of model would allow the gym to continue offering traditional workout options while also catering to an enduring shift in exercise trends brought on by the pandemic.

The shutdown of gyms during the pandemic forced consumers to find other exercise options. These have included outdoor exercise, virtual classes, and digitally connected exercise equipment such as Peloton (which has seen a huge boost in popularity during the pandemic). Having used these options for several months, consumers are unlikely to give up the new habits once the pandemic passes.

In addition to revenue losses, gyms have had to invest in greater safety protocols, abide by capacity restrictions, and endure membership cancellations from people who are unsure if they can work out safely. Digital workout options also allow the added convenience of exercising without commuting to the gym.

However, COVID-19 is unlikely to be a death knell for the fitness industry. Gyms still offer a chance for socializing with others while exercising, along with dumbbells and other expensive equipment that people often aren’t willing to purchase for a home gym.

A hybrid model would maintain the traditional gym offerings but also expand to offer additional services to supplement home workouts. These could include personal training sessions, nutrition plans, and virtual exercise classes. Gyms may also begin to adopt this model during the pandemic, allowing them to provide additional services while keeping brick-and-mortar locations open at capacity limits.

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