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Are People Returning to Gyms?

January 3, 2022
Nick Huntington-Klein

At the end of 2021, we noticed that users were increasingly downloading points of interest (POI) and foot traffic data for gyms and fitness centers. This piqued our interest, since such places were drastically impacted by the pandemic, often having to close their doors permanently. Does this resurgence of interest in data about fitness centers mean people are starting to return? Or were data scientists gearing up to analyze behavior related to new year’s resolutions in 2022?

To learn more, we looked at the data ourselves. Here’s what we found:

It certainly looks like gyms have rebounded. Comparing any during-pandemic month in 2020 (March and afterwards) to a month in 2021, we see an enormous increase in foot traffic at gyms. July through December we see year-on-year increases in the range of 25-50%. That's a pretty big increase (keeping in mind that it's an increase relative to the much-decreased-from-normal 2020 activity). Year-on-year growth is much bigger in the March-June months of the year, where we're comparing typical late-pandemic levels of activity against the heavily locked down early pandemic months. 

This doesn't mean things are entirely back to normal, of course. Comparing January and February 2020 (pre-pandemic in the US) vs. 2021, 2021 is about 25-35% lower than 2020. So even though gyms have made up a lot of ground since 2020, they're not back to normal by any means.

The return to the gym doesn't seem to be limited only to certain regions either, nor is there any obvious notable pattern according to states that have stronger or weaker lockdowns. Comparing March-December 2020 vs 2021, most states are seeing returns in the range of 25-50%, and all are positive. 

Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado stand out in having relatively weak returns, with year-on-year growth around 25%. That said, 25% year-on-year growth is still fairly strong. Michigan has had the biggest return, with 78% year-on-year growth for foot traffic at gyms.

While gyms aren't quite back where they were, it looks like Americans have decided to return to the gym a lot more than they did in 2020. How will 2022 resolutions for a healthier lifestyle further impact these numbers? Only time will tell. Schedule a demo with SafeGraph today to see how you can derive these types of consumer insights.

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