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Fitness clubs facing $10 billion revenue hit as members flee

This photo from May 19, 2020, shows Sean Manovill, owner of Club Fitness of Vermont, as he walks near exercise equipment. Fitness clubs rocked by covid-19 closures face a swell of bankruptcies with more than $10 billion of revenue wiped out as clients ditch memberships. (Lisa Rathke / AP)
This photo from May 19, 2020, shows Sean Manovill, owner of Club Fitness of Vermont, as he walks near exercise equipment. Fitness clubs rocked by covid-19 closures face a swell of bankruptcies with more than $10 billion of revenue wiped out as clients ditch memberships. (Lisa Rathke / AP)
By Sonali Basak Bloomberg

Fitness clubs rocked by covid-19 closures face a swell of bankruptcies with more than $10 billion of revenue wiped out as clients ditch memberships, according to investment bank Harrison Co.

In a Harrison survey of 1,000 fitness club users, more than a third said they have canceled or plan to terminate existing memberships.

“There are 38,000 locations throughout the U.S., and about a third have a reasonably high probability of being shut down,” Paul Byrne, an investment banker at Harrison who was formerly president at elliptical-maker Precor, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. A large number are “probably not going to make it through this.”

Gyms already loaded with debt are facing long-term declines in revenue despite social-distancing measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus beginning to ease across the U.S. People are likely to continue shunning closely-packed fitness centers to avoid being in close proximity to other individuals even as the economy reopens, according to the report.

“The No. 1 concern we had in our study is cleanliness,” Byrne said. He expects more brands to go digital, and many boutique studios to raise class prices to keep up with rent payments.

The owner of the New York Sports Clubs chain and Gold’s Gym are among firms that have weighed bankruptcy or already filed.

“The short-term issue for a lot of them is liquidity,” Byrne said.

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