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Global Wellness Summit reports on visitation surge to fitness centres and wellness destinations

Global Wellness Summit reports on visitation surge to fitness centres and wellness destinations
September 2, 2021

Global Wellness Summit has reported that with some parts of the world having opened up, there has been a return to gyms, fitness studios, spas and wellness travel destinations at rates far greater than expected.

Since the onset of COVID there has been a massive adoption of (and investment in) all kinds of digital health and wellness - from virtual workout platforms to new companies that deliver mental health support (and wellness via screens was a big focus in Global Wellness Summit 2021 trends report). Investors were financing technologies that allowed us to live evermore digital lives, with the New York Times recently exploring how “tech won the pandemic, and now may never lose.” On the fitness front, Peleton’s Chief Executive called the bricks-and-mortar gym “a broken model of yesteryear.” 

Global Wellness Summit has looked at data now coming in from places where the world has started to open up which provides important insight into just how much consumers value in-person wellness classes and experiences—from their fitness studios to spas. New industry surveys and reports show a rush to IRL (in real life) wellness experiences that were more powerful than anyone could have expected. 

The fitness industry was rocked by the pandemic, with the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) just reporting that 22% of all fitness facilities closed permanently, and $29 billion in revenues were lost from March 2020 to June 2021.

Howevera the new ClassPass survey of its 40,000 studio, gym and spa partners across 30 countries found that, in the first half of 2021, users “have made a nearly full return to in-person fitness and wellness experiences, with nine out of 10 of the most-booked classes and services now in-person”—and with spas entering the top 10, most-booked experiences for the first time. Mindbody (which aggregates data from its 58,000-fitness studio and wellness business partners) reported in late June that US booking numbers for in-person classes/experiences are reaching pre-COVID levels. 

 The International Spa Association’s (ISPA’s)  recent report on the 2020 US spa industry shows that while hard hit, the numbers are surprisingly less bad than one might expect: a roughly 35% drop in visits and revenue. But spas are reporting that as of July 2021, demand for services has never been higher and wellness travel destinations are seeing far more travellers choose wellness trips as their first vacation than they could have ever expected.

Although the Delta Variant kicking in in mid-July put a damper on the in-person wellness recovery, North Castle Partners, a big investor in fitness companies, notes “It is still really good.” And yes, the easy answer to every question about what a post-pandemic future holds—whether for work, fitness, food or medicine—is it will be “hybrid.” For instance, a 2021 Mindbody consumer survey found that 65% of people plan to do their workouts at home and in person after COVID. 

 It’s possible that the recent rush to real-world wellness classes and experiences just signals pent-up demand. But investors in fitness don’t seem to think so, and big bets are now being placed on the bright future for bricks-and-mortar models. (And big fitness companies are using the data showing the demand when lockdowns ease in their pitch decks.) For example, PureGym, the UK’s biggest gym chain (which has hit 94% of its 2019 membership levels), is preparing an IPO as soon as this year. SmartFit, the largest Latin American gym brand, just raised $450 million, while F45Training (1,750 global studios) was just valued at $1.45 billion. 

Global Wellness Summit advise “we need to step back. Before the pandemic, one of the most powerful trends was a new focus on communal and social wellness models: wellness club and community concepts that were all about finding creative ways to drive connection between people making more holistic wellness centres. Before the pandemic, we were in a tragic loneliness crisis, and the macro shifts that analysts predict for our post-COVID future—whether a ‘digital everything’ world to working-from-home to an exodus from cities to suburbs/towns—will further deprive us of what our world needs most: human gathering and face-to-face connection. That isn’t a ‘segment’ of the wellness market; it’s wellness’s very DNA. 

 “We gathered this recent data on people flocking back to fitness studios and spas when they felt they could because it reveals people’s hunger for IRL wellness. And the markets seem pretty clear: The ‘death of the gym and studio’ has been greatly exaggerated.” 

Click here to view original article at globalwellnesssummit

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