Another huge financial loss this year due to Covid was that of gyms and sports centers. 2 billion euros went up in smoke and 200,000 people were left without work in stark contrast to 2019, the year in which the fitness sector in Europe was constantly growing with about 65 million members of clubs and with total revenues equal to about 28 billion euros. This was revealed by the IFO International Fitness Observatory ‘Exercise is a medicine’ survey carried out in collaboration with the Egeria company, involving over 6,600 clubs throughout Italy and coordinated by Paolo Menconi, president of the Observatory. A survey presented during the World Health Day live on the web with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, doctors, companies and professionals of the sports sciences. Among the objectives is also to propose a new alliance between medicine, physical exercise and economic institutions and to sensitize Italians to physical activity as a “natural drug” and preventive form of psychophysical well-being.
40% of gyms say they don’t know if they can resist
According to IFO, urgent and concrete structural interventions are necessary: the sector characterized by a majority of single, small clubs, in business for some time (over ten years) and in which the “one man company” model prevails. 40% say they do not know if they will be able to resist and how long, and 20% -25% of clubs believe they will no longer have the resources to survive the crisis. The fitness and sports industry represents an important reality in the national economy for the related industries. Italy, with 8% of the European market, after Germany (20%), England (19%) and France (9%), was in fourth place in Europe with over 5.5 million people registered in the gym and with an annual market of over 2.4 billion euros. A market that had ample room for growth and that entered its most dramatic historical moment. “Although fitness is a” playful “world of leisure, which provides services in an apparently carefree way, in fact it has a key role: it spreads psychophysical wellbeing with a very varied offer and for all budgets, so it should be considered differently, almost closer to the world of health than to that of sport, because exercising makes you feel better, preventive medicine, and should enjoy different attention. Doing fitness not just a pastime: there were over 5 million people who went to the gym to feel good also from a psychological point of view, chasing away anxieties and loneliness, to do themselves good. The results of this research indicate that the fitness industry is in a very difficult and unprecedented time. The sector must be protected with serious and concrete structural interventions, both for those who work there and for customers, to be able to get back on their feet and continue to look serenely to the future. ” explains the president Paolo Menconi.
62% of gyms are independent clubs
The results of the survey show that the panorama of gyms in Italy is made up for the majority (62%) of small independent clubs, only 18% belongs to chains and almost 3% to franchises. The remaining 20% formed by small studios of yoga, pilates, etc. Almost half of the sports centers, equal to 39%, have an area of less than 500 square meters; 27% have a size between 500 and 1,000 square meters, while clubs between 1,000 and 2,000 square meters (16%) and those over 2,000 square meters (18%) are in the minority. A sector consolidated over time: 62% say they opened the club more than 10 years ago, 23% between 5 and 10 years ago. Between 2 and 5 years 12.4 and the youngest (between 1 and 2 years) only 3.4%. With respect to the economic component, taking 2019 as a reference, more than 50% of the clubs estimated a missed collection of over 70%, considering that the closures followed different periods in the various regions of Italy. In addition, 21% declare that they are accumulating debts related to the payment of utilities and 75%, despite the closure, are paying the rents / leases of the spaces for the structures. Almost 87% of gyms believe that the measures adopted so far are not sufficient to support the sector, suggesting the main measures of non-repayable financing (78%), the suspension of tax duties and bills (66%), and the issuing of urgent measures for the sector (58%). 20% declare that they have not received refreshments / contributions from the state.
Only 6.5% of clubs could withstand 5 months of closure
If the situation is difficult for everyone, the economic capacity to resist is different: 14.7% declare they have autonomy for 1 month. In 2 months, 31% believe they do not have the economic strength to overcome the crisis. 48% of clubs may not make it in 3 months. At the fourth month off, the risk is that over 54% of the clubs do not survive. Only 6.5% of clubs could have the financial resources to withstand five months of closure, but above all uncertainty reigns: almost 40% say they do not know how long they can last.
Valotta, Virgin Active gyms: “Higher expenses to treat the effects deriving from the lack of movement”
“I hope that we will return as soon as possible to talk about prevention and correct lifestyles because Italy needs it. In recent months we have asked that the sector be taken into consideration because it is precisely the listening phase that was missing from the beginning. The vaccination plan will now go live and it is important that we are listened to in order to plan a restart of the sector with a protocol that takes into account the vaccine evolution. For us at Virgin Active, the saying ‘health first’ is a true principle and a value. Fitness centers are not only important in terms of movement and the playful and recreational aspect, but they are very important for health. Lifestyles have changed in the last 18 months, with smartworking and our closed centers it is almost impossible to play sports. The consequences that affect the body and mind are devastating for our society and in the next few years these problems will spill over to social costs, and the state will have to spend even more on healthcare costs “explains Luca Valotta, CEO of the Virgin gyms circuit. Active.