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How 4 Fitness Startups Pivoted In Response To The COVID-19 Pandemic

As 2020 comes to a close, New Year’s resolutions are just over the horizon, and it’s no surprise that January and February are the two busiest months for gyms and studios.

Yet, this year workout options look very different. As the pandemic reaches month 9 in the United States, many industries have been hit hard, but few have been impacted as much as fitness. Gyms and studios were closed for months by state orders and those that returned have done so with limited hours and drastically reduced capacity. Fitness startups and boutiques have adapted their offerings to serve their members and fit in a COVID world.

The pandemic caused a seismic shift in the fitness industry. 91% of gyms, ranging from big health clubs to small studios, closed their doors for some period of time due to coronavirus-related mandates, according to IHRSA, a nonprofit trade association that represents health and fitness facilities.

Fitness industry veteran and CEO of Boutique Fitness Summit, Julian Barnes, confirmed, “Hundreds of studios have closed nationwide including some studios that are now 100% virtual and studio groups that closed some of their locations to stop the bleeding & conserve cash.”

The primary challenge facing gyms and studios is high overhead combined with reduced revenue due to state occupancy mandates. “Many of the facilities that closed are ones where landlords were not willing to be flexible with rent payments,” explains Barnes, “There are very few businesses in any industry that can survive paying full rent while operating at half capacity. Gyms & fitness studios are no different.“

San Francisco CrossFit, one of the oldest and most influential CrossFit gyms in the world, had to close its doors in November. Despite having no debt, receiving PPP, and offering online programs, the gap between their revenue and overhead costs was too much to overcome.

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