Fit for nothing as COVID-19 takes its toll

THE ECONOMIC and social impact of COVID-19 related closures have been felt hard by the fitness industry, right across Australia.

Fitness Australia has released an industry impacts report detailing the devastating effect of gym shutdowns from March 23.

The COVID-19 Fitness Industry Impact Report lays bare the financial, social and economic impact suffered by the $3 billion a year industry that employs more than 35,000 people across more than 6,426 businesses, according to Fitness Australia CEO Barrie Elvish.

Mr Elvish said while the industry was supportive of the government measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, gym closures resulted in the mothballing of thousands of businesses.   

“Australians spend more than $8.5 billion every year on fitness and a large portion of this is spend on gym memberships, personal training, fitness classes and bootcamps,” he said.

“The closures, which affected all types gyms and fitness facilities, and shortly after outdoor bootcamps, meant these businesses had suffered significantly.

“The safety of the community comes first but the impact has been devastating for the fitness industry. Our report shows this impact has been felt by everyone from personal trainers and sole operators right through to the large gym franchises – no one is unaffected.” 


The COVID-19 Fitness Industry Impact Report surveyed a broad snapshot of the industry including exercise professionals and sole traders, through to boutique businesses and multi-service facilities. 

Fitness Australia’s analysis of exercise professionals and sole traders surveyed found: 81 percent has lost their job or main source of income; 71 percent had not had a single client since gyms closed on March 23, 2020; 44 percent of respondents has lost more than 61 percent of their income; 90 percent are continuing to pay up to $5,000 a month for business expenses despite not operating; less than 10 percent of clients had transitioned to virtual platforms or one-on-one training. 

Fitness Australia’s analysis of boutique businesses and multi-service facilities surveyed found: All businesses have had to stand down employees with less than 10 percent of staff still working; 70 percent of businesses cited a 100 percent decline in memberships; 24 percent of businesses reported a 61 percent decline in memberships due to cancellations or suspensions; revenue was down 100 per cent for 50% of gym owners; gyms have only been able to generate less than 10 percent of their usual income through virtual or outdoor one-on-one training. 


Mr Elvish said the industry was willing to do “whatever it takes” to get gyms reopened safely as soon as possible – both from an economic and overall wellbeing perspective.

“The industry is committed and onboard to do whatever is needed to reopen,” Mr Elvish said.  “We all want to ensure gym members and employees have the peace of mind to safely return to the gym, do a workout or take part in a group glass.

“Fitness Australia has prepared a draft reopening framework to ensure gyms can reopen safely as soon as possible. This is currently with all state and territory health departments for consideration.

“It was very encouraging to see the NT government include the staged reopening of gyms in their announcement yesterday,” he said.

“In addition to the financial benefits of getting gyms reopened, the role exercise plays in our overall health and mental wellbeing cannot be underestimated and it will become more apparent as restrictions are eased back.

“Gyms and the broader fitness industry will have a vital role in ensuring the ongoing health and wellbeing of Australians during and following COVID-19.”

Download the COVID-19 Fitness Industry Impact Report.


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