Fitness Industry in Canada Poised for “Incredible Growth” Post-Pandemic: Report

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The fitness industry is poised for incredible growth post-pandemic, with fitness trends undergoing a seismic shift away from gyms and towards outdoors, home fitness, and digital options, according to a recent report by RunRepeat, a website that reviews running shoes.

The report said the fitness industry experienced a 32.45 per cent decline in revenue during 2020 but is projected to rebound to 0.55 per cent pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2021.

“Worth nearly $160 billion in 2021, the fitness industry is expected to grow 171.75 per cent to $434.74 billion USD by 2028,” said the report.  “The industries hit the hardest by the pandemic were the gym, health club, and boutique fitness studio industries. They declined up to 58.30 per cent in the first year of the pandemic. In 2021, they are projected to still be down 22.5 per cent from their pre-pandemic revenue levels in 2019.

“Meanwhile, online/digital fitness, fitness apps, fitness equipment, and fitness tracker markets all experienced significant growth due to the pandemic – experiencing a revenue growth of 40.61 per cent in 2020; projected to be up 66.32 per cent by the end of 2021, in comparison to their pre-pandemic levels.

“From 2021 to 2028, the online/digital fitness industry is projected to have the highest growth rate of 33.10 per cent per year. The industry with the lowest compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is the gym industry, growing at a rate of 7.21 per cent per year.”

In Canada, the fitness industry breathed a sigh of relief in late November when the federal government announced Bill C-2, an Act to provide further support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That gave fitness businesses the ability to apply for financial support to rebound and rebuild as a part of the program supporting hospitality and tourism.

Sara Hodson

Fitness Industry Council of Canada said it persistently lobbied the federal government to be recognized as a hard-hit industry. The federal government’s announcement to have the fitness industry included in a program for further support is more evidence that the relationship between the fitness industry and the government is strong, said the Council.

“We are proud of our lobbying efforts and the relationships we have built with our federal and provincial governments. (The) announcement showed us that our political leaders are listening,” said Sara Hodson, President of Fitness Industry Council of Canada and CEO of LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic. “We have lobbied on behalf of our industry to prevent more businesses from having to close their doors. Bill C-2 provides much-needed subsidies to help us rebound. Our members are very pleased that the government has listened to our concerns.”

Bill C-2 will provide targeted support benefits such as wage and rent subsidies. Prior to the announcement, the fitness industry was excluded from these financial assistance programs.

“The Canadian fitness industry has suffered huge losses since the pandemic began in March 2020, with over 40 per cent of businesses closing their doors, and even more job losses. FIC will continue to lobby the government to make gym memberships a medical tax deduction, a proposal submitted to the Liberals in February 2021, but not passed. More than 40 per cent of Canadians surveyed in July 2021 said that a tax deduction would motivate them to purchase a gym membership. Such an initiative would support Canada’s health and economic recovery,” said the Council.

Prior to the announcement, the Council, in October, said fitness facilities across Canada would struggle to survive and more would be forced to close their doors with federal support.

“The fitness industry will collapse without a federal subsidy similar to what is being offered to the tourism and hospitality sectors,” said Hodson at the time. “Most small businesses in our industry have only a few weeks of operating capital remaining – not months, weeks. We need urgent action from the federal government.

“More than 42 per cent of fitness facilities have closed since the pandemic began. Our members have done everything to comply with public health orders since the pandemic began, including closing our facilities when asked, enforcing vaccine mandates, reducing capacities and increasing ventilation and sanitation. We have increased our costs, while our revenues have significantly dropped – because we know the health and well-being of Canadians is paramount.”

According to a RunRepeat report in October, gyms in Canada generated $2.95 billion in annual revenue in 2019. In Canada, there are 6,587 gyms with over 6.18 million members. Approximately 16.67 per cent of Canadians are gym members. Canada’s gym industry has experienced an average of 4.1 per cent growth per year from 2015 to 2020, with revenue projected at $4.3 billion by the end of 2020. On average, there are 937.59 members per gym in Canada with each person bringing in about $467.87 in annual revenue. A Canadian gym brought in $447,115.53 in annual revenue in 2019.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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