Last updated 3 weeks ago by Sarah Chebaro
The fitness industry was one of the last to open its doors again to its members. Their doors were initially set to be opened in August/September but a few bigger gym owners stepped forward and convinced the government to allow opening on July 1, 2020. How has this pandemic impacted this industry?
Bigger gym chains had a greater advantage than local gyms
Due to the gyms being temporarily closed because of the pandemic there was a huge influx of people buying gym equipment for home use. The bigger chains had more stability in keeping their business afloat during their closure. The ones that felt the impact were the local gyms in Utrecht. Many gym owners were left in shock on why hairdressers, nail salons, and tattoo parlors could open their doors earlier than the fitness industry.
Exercise helps the immune system
They all believed health comes first to allow the human body to have a strong immune system. Gyms like Fit-Fast, Curves, FIG ( Food and Bar Gym) and Sportcentrum Olympos have all told their story on how they approached the whole situation and how they are doing now.
Fit-Fast paused all the gym memberships for their clients until the first of July and offered workouts online to the members. In mid-May outside training was allowed but under strict regulations. Once doors were open on July 1st, members were allowed to train indoors adhering to the regulations and the 1.5-meter distance.
Due to the layout of the gym, the members can come into the back entrance and it leads them into the main workout space. Members all had their workout station and disinfectant is provided for the members to clean after use of equipment. Some members have left and some new ones have joined. There has been an increase in personal training so this has helped greatly.
Online lessons: a new tactic
Curves also offered their members online home workout videos. Before the pandemic, they mainly offered indoor training for their members. In mid-May, they took the opportunity to offer outside training to their members. Since their re-opening on July 1st, they divided their schedule to be indoors and outdoors (some of their members aren’t ready to train indoors yet). They are allowed a maximum of 9 members to train indoors adhering to the 1.5-meter distance. The gym asked their members to use disinfectant before their workout and unfortunately, their dressing rooms can’t be used.
Curves also now work with an online booking reservation system. Due to the pandemic, they lost a lot of their income. The owner runs most of the workouts as salary for extra staff can’t be provided. They lost some members and some are still waiting to see how the situation unfolds. There are also new members looking for a gym, so that brings some positivity. The owner does believe there is a positive change in this whole situation, people have realized that sports plays a big factor in their health and now they are allowed to do it.
Gyms offering food had an earlier start of indoor regulations
FIG (Food and Bar Gym) also offered their members online home workout videos, but they soon realized that some members just couldn’t continue with following the videos anymore. A lot of their members were anxiously waiting for this whole closure of the gym to change. In mid-May, they started their outside workouts.
As FIG is also a restaurant, they opened the food bar on June 1st. They were ahead of understanding how to follow indoor protocol. Once they could open their indoor gym, they also asked their members to disinfect their workstations after a workout. Due to the size of the gym, the number of members allowed to train indoors was greatly reduced. Luckily they continued to hold outdoor workouts at the same time. In the first two weeks, members were hesitant to do their workout indoors but the numbers of indoor participation are slowly increasing. The number of memberships has decreased in comparison with before the pandemic, but they are hoping with time things will slowly come back to normal.
Students play an important role
Sportcentrum Olympos’s members make up of 80% students and the rest of the percentage are employees of the USP partners. The gym is based more on team sports and targeted mostly to students. At the start, they offered online lessons and training instruction videos. Once they were allowed to open outdoor training, they offered tennis, climbing, outdoor fitness, and group lessons. They did have to adhere to the social distancing guidelines.
Since July 1st they could open their indoor training but they were still limited due to Covid regulations. Lessons are also limited to a time slot reservation system. Extra hygiene is also obligatory. The sports café opened on June 1st and has to follow the bar and restaurant protocol, this too has been impacted due to limited capacity and hours. There has been a decrease in subscribers due to the lockdown as the students and some of the international clients have all left Utrecht. Although they are open, it clashes with the summer period and holiday seasons. Summer is generally quiet and a lot have left the city. Things will and are slowly picking up as some teams decided to continue training during this period.
The pandemic has affected many local gyms and they all are working hard to get through these times. Remember that a healthy lifestyle provides a healthy immune system. Support the local gyms in Utrecht.