Virtuagym’s Data on How Our Top Clients Are Rebuilding the Fitness Industry

By Neesha Kanaga

Published 12 October 2020

Closures, timeslots, and more hand sanitizer than your calloused hands can bear – 2020 has been a challenging year for the fitness market. It’s among the hardest-hit industries, and with the coronavirus showing no signs of letting up, the future for many gym owners, studios, and trainers remains shrouded in uncertainty.

We recently partnered with some top institutions to gain insight into how the European health and fitness market is faring. By using the data from Virtuagym’s database, we found out how our most successful clients are weathering the storm while maintaining revenue.

Check out our e-book with all data and lessons by clicking here

Four Things Exemplary Businesses in Our Database Are Doing

Some of our most successful clients are developing and growing in innovative ways to outmaneuver the pitfalls of a post-pandemic world. They’ve taken almost seamlessly to digital transformation and are hybridizing their operations and offerings.

From virtual workouts and payment to scheduling systems, every element of a company can be accessed via the click of a button or touch of a screen. On top of that, they’re making sure that their clients have a safe and intuitive experience both online and offline.

Here’s what stood out to us as key lessons that fitness businesses have learned from COVID-19 that will help you grow your business.

  • Rethink Your Business Model

Our study shows that 41-82% of clubs saw a significant reduction in revenue throughout the peak of COVID-19. While some businesses attempted to combat revenue hits by focusing on attracting new clients, they ended up neglecting their current members.

Our top-performing customers pivoted towards a hybrid business model that combined real-life training options with online and digital services. This enabled them to engage with current members by offering tailor-made offerings, while also attracting new members.

Sure, this meant going digital – a daunting challenge for those who are reeling from the effects of COVID-19. But, a hybrid and flexible digital model is worth setting up to save you time, energy, and increase revenue streams in the long run. For in-depth insight on moving your business model from bricks to clicks, check out this article.

  • Engage With Your Members (Online and Offline)

Virtuagym’s data shows that in April, club memberships were at an all-time low. Only 17% of clubs continued growing, and 26% of European clubs shrank by at least -2%. Most people canceled their memberships, and many gyms opted for a mass pause.  Despite this, some gyms in our system managed to keep their head above the water and retained most of their members.

The pandemic has highlighted how important it is for fitness businesses to forge connections with their members, even from a distance. Clearly – as seen from the uptick of downloads of virtual apps and online fitness tracking – staying healthy is at the forefront of many people’s minds.

The most successful businesses in our database built a strong online presence to keep their members engaged from a distance. This translates into loyalty, in which members supported their gyms via community posts and partaking in online classes, fitness challenges, and more. Having specialized online offerings for your members ensures that you stay in their consciousness despite your doors being closed.

  • Make Your Gym Safe During the Corona Crisis

While many members wish to return to the gym, they’re not insusceptible to coronavirus (despite how much they lift or squat). Even now, with more fitness centers being open with strict guidelines in place, our data shows that attendance is still only sluggishly rising. Ensuring you have exceptional safety and hygiene measures in place could make the difference between low and high attendance rates.

At the peak of the pandemic, bookings were reduced to as low as 86% – and a reluctance to return to the gym is attributed to a lack of trust in the facility. Utilizing gym management software and communicating with your members about the safety regulations and social distancing in your gym is crucial for getting attendance rates back up.

Go a step further and ensure that ground staff is enforcing the regulations. And, while you’re at it, take full advantage of your platform’s digital channels and online communities to feature how your current attendees feel about being back.

  • Automate and Go Digital!

Many businesses, fitness or otherwise, were going digital even before the start of the pandemic. When the lockdowns went into full effect in Europe around March, numerous businesses scrambled to put their offerings online.

Some were smarter than others in doing so, by using their pre-existing digital tools and channels to monetize on services like online classes and personal training. Others went for the free-for-all approach and missed out on potential revenue streams.

We noticed that successful businesses in our network used their fitness apps to transform on-site classes and workouts into digital offerings that can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Livestream classes were held within their own app, and members were informed via an easy push notification. Intuitive integrations with Calendar, Zoom, YouTube, and other live streaming options, coupled with automatic invoicing and workout templates made the app easy to use even the most technologically challenged.

For more in-depth insights and facts and figures, on the four lessons we’ve learned from fitness businesses that have grown during the pandemic. The e-book is centered around findings from Virtuagym’s database and outlines how to grow your business in four simple steps.

Takeaways From This Study

It’s been a whirlwind of a year, but our data shows that your fitness business can survive by playing the long game. By investing in software that can take gyms from being a single, physical place to a dynamic space that can be accessed offline and online, most of our top clients have redefined what it means to be a key player in the post-pandemic fitness industry.

On top of that, adopting a hybrid business model empowers you to be flexible and efficient – allowing for more time to engage with members and build up your fitness community.

Recently, we had the second installment of our FitNation event. Taking a page from our own book (re: embrace the digital transformation), we took FitNation 2020 online. It featured renowned figures in the industry like Mark Jenkins, Sandy Macaskill, Marjolijn Meijer, and many more. FitNation is a place to discuss trends, learn from experts, and get insider tips on industry best practices.

To learn more about FitNation and look back on what happened during FitNation 2020, click here.


Neesha Kanaga

Neesha is a copywriter and wanderer who currently finds herself bound to the weather-challenged Netherlands due to the unforeseen circumstances of 2020.


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