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Will gyms go extinct?

Jasmine Garsd Sep 17, 2020
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People exercise in workout pods at a gym in Redondo Beach, California, in June. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Will gyms go extinct?

Jasmine Garsd Sep 17, 2020
Heard on:
People exercise in workout pods at a gym in Redondo Beach, California, in June. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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The pandemic has changed so much about our everyday lives, including how we exercise. Some gyms around the country have been tentatively reopening, but several have gone out of business thanks to COVID-19. Big names in the gym club game, like 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym and New York Sport’s Club’s parent company have declared bankruptcy.  

Meanwhile, for at-home fitness apps offering classes and communities, sales are skyrocketing.

This week Apple joined the fray with its subscription service, which includes yoga and running for about $10 a month. That’s a fraction of what most people pay for gym membership. 

Apple enters a crowded field: Peloton, Nike, Adidas and a bunch of other tech and athletic brands are already there. The online fitness industry is projected to grow by 20% over the next seven years.  

Joe Favorito, a sports marketing consultant and professor at Columbia University, says, “Anyone who’s in the fitness business that doesn’t have some sort of online component right now, and is trying to look back to where we were on March 13, is going to be in a lot of trouble. “

That includes small studios. Yoga instructor Jessica Sandhu’s students followed her onto Zoom. She charges about $120 for private sessions, and she says business is better than ever. “I’ve been very financially OK. I’ve never been able to save money as I have now,” she says.

In order for brick-and-mortar gyms to muscle their way out of this crisis, they may need to go hybrid.  Like Equinox. The high-end gym launched its online fitness app in mid-March. 

For gyms, it’s time to level up, or wipe out.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s the outlook for vaccine supply?

Chief executives of America’s COVID-19 vaccine makers promised in congressional testimony to deliver the doses promised to the U.S. government by summer. The projections of confidence come after months of supply chain challenges and companies falling short of year-end projections for 2020. What changed? In part, drugmakers that normally compete are now actually helping one another. This has helped solve several supply chain issues, but not all of them.

How has the pandemic changed scientific research?

Over the past year, while some scientists turned their attention to COVID-19 and creating vaccines to fight it, most others had to pause their research — and re-imagine how to do it. Social distancing, limited lab capacity — “It’s less fun, I have to say. Like, for me the big part of the science is discussing the science with other people, getting excited about projects,” said Isabella Rauch, an immunologist at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Funding is also a big question for many.

What happened to all of the hazard pay essential workers were getting at the beginning of the pandemic?

Almost a year ago, when the pandemic began, essential workers were hailed as heroes. Back then, many companies gave hazard pay, an extra $2 or so per hour, for coming in to work. That quietly went away for most of them last summer. Without federal action, it’s mostly been up to local governments to create programs and mandates. They’ve helped compensate front-line workers, but they haven’t been perfect. “The solutions are small. They’re piecemeal,” said Molly Kinder at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. “You’re seeing these innovative pop-ups because we have failed overall to do something systematically.”

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