How the Fitness Industry Is Responding to Coronavirus

How the Fitness Industry Is Responding to Coronavirus

As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the world, many industries have fallen into a downward spiral as the growing uncertainty triggers global market shares to plummet. Industries such as airlines, oil, automobiles, and tourism have taken massive hits. Meanwhile, companies supplying things like gym equipment are struggling to meet a skyrocketing demand.

However, the fitness industry has experienced its fair share of turmoil as governments mandate the closure of all non-essential public places, including gyms. Although many health clubs have taken the brunt of it, a few have managed to find creative ways to stay relevant.

While very few companies were prepared for the prolonged closure of gyms this past month, many brands have used this time to push the boundaries of what the fitness industry can deliver through an online format. The improvement of fitness content, accessibility, and online support are just a few silver linings that have accompanied these trying times.

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Fitness Industry Takes a Hit From Coronavirus

During the past month, the fitness industry suffered significant financial losses as thousands of gyms closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this has left millions of people with nowhere to workout, it has also left owners and staff alike scrambling to stay afloat financially. 

Many gyms, such as Planet Fitness, have denied members refunds or cancellations throughout the duration of their closure. While others, like Crunch, have stopped collecting membership fees and will not pursue any past due balances for members until the clubs reopen. 

Either way, the economic downturn has left a lasting impact on the fitness industry as many personal trainers and gym staff find themselves out of work. Solidcore, a pilates studio in New York, laid off 98% of its workforce due to the damaging effects COVID-19 had on sales.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom as the fitness industry finds new ways to reach their audience with a digital push. Many gyms are going virtual with online classes, livestreams and conducting personal training sessions via Zoom. The fitness company Beachbody has reportedly experienced a 200% growth in subscribers (approximately 1.5 million subscribers) since shifting to online classes.

Gym Equipment Is Selling Out

In light of the recent pandemic, many people are staying home, working remote, and social distancing. Following the indefinite closure of gyms, many people are turning to home workouts in an effort to preserve not only our strength, but also sanity. 

If you’re one of the millions of people itching for a workout, don’t bother buying gym equipment – because you’re probably too late. Fitness junkies across the world have rushed to online equipment sites, leaving the majority of items out of stock. In fact, the high volume of orders have even contributed to making home workout equipment one of the few areas of business to thrive in the current economic climate.  

Tonal, the $3,000 intelligent home workout system, has tripled in sales over just the past week. The wall-mounted machine has the capability of numerous different exercises, using electromagnets to create resistance up to a maximum of 200 pounds combined.

For those more interested in cardio, the exercise equipment company Peloton is furiously cranking out thousands of bikes to meet a growing demand. Despite the company cancelling all treadmill orders as it requires in-home installation, Peloton’s stocks have skyrocketed nearly 50% over the past month. The Peloton bikes offer weekly live classes, on-demand biking trails, and motivating instructors. 

For those not willing or able to make a big investment on gym equipment, there are still a few items that you may be able to get your hands on. According to fitness professionals, the top three most effective pieces of equipment to invest in are kettlebells, dumbbells, and resistance bands. While these items are selling like hotcakes, websites such as Strength Shop and Bulldog Gear are consistently restocking.

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Fitness Brands Who Are Staying (Pro)Active

Equinox

While the american fitness company was recently required to close their gym doors, that didn’t stop the brand from helping customers break a sweat from home. Equinox, which also owns PureYoga, SoulCycle, and Precision Run, recently launched a new fitness app called Variis. Members can find everything from 30-minute intense cardio to meditative yoga lessons. 

Although the fitness brand is typically members only, they understand many people need fitness now more than ever. Equinox introduced weekly workout classes though IGTV on the Variis Instagram page. The weekly class schedule is released every Sunday and users can often find the brand live streaming creative, high-energy workouts.

Under Armour

The sports apparel company wasted little time making a $2 million donation to support struggling communities across America. The fitness brand pledged $1 million to the charity Feeding America and another $1 million to the launch of a 30-day healthy at-home fitness challenge on the company’s MyFitnessPal app. 

Additionally, Under Armour has teamed up with Good Sports Inc. promising to donate $1 for every sign up on the MyFitnessPal 30-day challenge. The donations will go towards ensuring that youth sport leagues have the necessary equipment, footwear, and apparel for upcoming seasons.

Lifetime Fitness

Lifetime Fitness is one of the most popular gyms in North America, offering everything from state-of-the-art rock climbing walls to an olympic-sized pool. However, due to the recent pandemic the health club had no choice but to close its doors indefinitely. 

Despite being out of commission this past month, Lifetime Fitness has truly been a helpful resource for the online community. The brand’s social media is consistently stocked up with home-friendly workouts, healthy recipes, and tips on keeping the kids occupied. While members may not be able to get their regular workout in, this gym is overflowing with fitness inspiration, motivation, and advice.

New Balance

The athletic footwear brand is switching production from sports gear to facemasks. Following in the footsteps of several other companies, New Balance announced that they would manufacture protective facemasks and deliver them to frontline healthcare workers. 

The company’s decision to manufacture facemasks comes on the heels of their previous donation of $2 million towards supporting local, regional and global communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gold’s Gym 

Gold’s Gym was no exception to the mandated gym closures, however the brand has found a unique way to empower people around the world to stay active. The fitness brand started using the hashtag #StrongerTogether, encouraging viewers to share their home workouts with others.

The popular gym has even developed a full library of free workout ideas that fans can find on their website. For those who are missing their personal trainers, Gold’s Gym has shared a sentimental video of a few of their very own trainers around the world vowing to workout from home. This fitness brand is not only keeping people fit, but safe as well.

Columbia Sportswear

Just like thousands of companies around the world, Columbia Sportswear was headed towards large-scale layoffs as the effects of COVID-19 ravaged their sales. However, CEO Tim Boyle voluntarily cut his salary down to only $10,000 a year in an effort to save hundreds of jobs within the company.

Other Columbia executives have also taken a 15% pay cut to be one of the few companies that can continue paying their employees through this difficult time. The Columbia Sportswear company is no stranger to charitable work as the brand is a well known contributor to the Planet Water Foundation, a charity that provides safe drinking water for impoverished communities across the globe.

The Takeaway

The spread of COVID-19 has forced brands to drive both a stronger online presence and discover new ways to connect. While growing health concerns have left many gyms on hold, the response of the fitness industry is clear.

  • Although the pandemic has taken a toll on the fitness industry, gym equipment has seen a surge in sales. This suggests that the recent isolation has led people to crave physical activity explaining the influx of online equipment orders.
  • This market shift indicates that the customer base for the fitness industry is highly loyal. This elevated devotion to health may play a strong role in the recovery of gyms upon reopening their doors. 
  • Fitness apparel companies and sports teams have truly taken the initiative to support the community. Brands who manage to empower the community, especially in a time of crisis, have the unique opportunity of building both stronger customer relationships and loyalty. 
  • Whether it’s online yoga classes, dance parties, or personal training sessions we’ve seen social media change. The fitness industry is relying on social media like never before, perhaps inspiring greater accessibility, and content for the future. 

Ultimately, the creativity and adaptability displayed by brands has given us hope that the fitness industry will manage to bounce back after the wind-down of the coronavirus. For more ideas on how to respond as a brand in uncertain times, follow the data. Check in on your competitors, industry, and region to examine positive examples and adopt emerging best practices.

Marketing Specialist

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