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Omicron poses a heavy lift for gym owners

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A customer wears a face mask as they lift weights while working out inside a Planet Fitness Inc. gym as the location reopens after being closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, on March 16, 2021 in Inglewood, California.

The omicron surge is forcing gyms to adapt yet again. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

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If your New Year’s resolution was to finally lose that pandemic weight and reactivate your gym membership, well, omicron may be giving you second thoughts.

Rising case numbers and new mask mandates have once again thrown a wrench in some people’s plans to return to the weight room or yoga studio. That means gyms are adapting yet again.

January used to be a very lucrative month for Healthworks Group, which owns a chain of gyms in the greater Boston area.

“As many new members join our clubs in the first 10 days of January as a typical month in another part of the year,” said Healthworks Group’s President Mark Harrington Jr.

He said that’s very unlikely in 2022. Gyms like Healthworks aren’t planning big New Year’s price cuts to get members back.

“I would say across the industry discounting is way down from what it was in the pre-COVID era,” Harrington said.

Many gyms are instead catering to the members that stuck with them — the diehards who, despite omicron, will never, ever miss a leg day.

Josh Leve, CEO of the Fitness Business Association, said the pandemic has also changed gyms’ marketing strategies. Out with the fitness models, in with the MDs.

“Testimonials from their client base of doctors, of nurses,” he said.

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