Number of the Day

How Gyms Got Knocked Out, By the Numbers

Fitness bankruptcies could lead to more strip-mall decimation

Marker Editors
Published in
2 min readAug 4, 2020
Graphic card with the text “Number of the Day: 210,000 Gyms and Fitness Clubs”

210,000: that’s how many gyms and fitness clubs there were globally in 2019, up from just 92,000 in 2005, a more than twofold increase over a 15-year span, according to the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association.

Turns out going to the gym was positively niche a couple of decades ago (much like running was before the ’70s), and will be verboten for the foreseeable future, thanks to a pandemic that makes sweating in close quarters with strangers potentially lethal.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, until Covid hit, gyms were a consistent lifeline for owners of malls and shopping centers while their retail tenants bled customers to e-commerce. But since March, national fitness chains Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness have both declared bankruptcy, with Equinox in re-opening purgatory.

Planet Fitness, meanwhile, might be able to hang on through the pandemic, since it owns only 5% of its locations and charges its members some of the lowest fees in the fitness industry, though it’s now taking a questionable stance on masks.

Looks like Lululemon’s acquisition of virtual fitness startup Mirror for $500 million in July was a smart hedge after all. Place your bets: For the gyms that can stick out the pandemic, their most likely future owner? Probably, Peloton.