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Fitness companies see surge in demand as Americans rush to lose Covid weight

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The economy opens up again quickly. Restaurants, sports arenas, and even offices are filling up again as pandemic restrictions are lifted. And that means a lot of people who have been confiscated from their homes in the past year are heading out even if they don’t look exactly alike.

The stressful and sedentary nature of life during the coronavirus pandemic caused many to drop out of their fitness routines and gain weight. According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, 42% of adults in the United States reported unwanted weight gain due to Covid. Average gain: 29 pounds.

“Sourdough bread was fun making. Banana bread was fun making, but the result is not great,” said Jim Rowley, CEO of Crunch Worldwide.

On the flip side, 18% reported unwanted weight loss, possibly due in part to muscle loss from all that sitting around. It’s no wonder, profit or loss, that fitness companies are suddenly seeing a new surge in activity.

“We now have a lot of people who haven’t seen us over the winter who are ready and realizing this is a long time coming,” said Lucy Ballentine, gym manager at Orangetheory Fitness in Washington, DC I told her, “It It’s been over a year since I’ve done any kind of training and I’m really desperate to get back in shape. “

An employee wearing a protective mask disinfects a treadmill between classes at an Orange Theory gym in Atlanta, Georgia, United States on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.

Elijah Nouvelage | Bloomberg | Getty Images

While the demand for home fitness has spiked over the past year, benefiting big names like Peloton, Beachbody, and The Mirror, the urge to get back in shape is now clearly felt as Americans come out of hiding.

That was the overwhelming feeling of an outdoor orange theory class in a DC parking lot.

“Do you think I have to go back to the closet that I no longer fit? Yes,” said Stacey Weinstock, who has been working from home since the pandemic began.

“We’re getting a little closer to where everything will open up, and we want to do our best and feel our best,” Rachel Robins said as she prepared for class.

Both gyms and streaming fitness companies are suddenly seeing a surge in new demand and overall workout. Nationwide Orange Theory memberships rose 17% in the first quarter of this year, with the biggest jump in March, up 9%.

Crunch reports that member visits in March were up 30% compared to February. Despite having a huge presence in major cities that still have severe gym restrictions, such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the company had its strongest new member sales in a year.

“We predict the big boom will be in September when we’re through the summer and the kids are back to school. It’s normal for businesses to reopen, especially in urban centers like Manhattan and San Francisco,” Rowley said.

According to Barry’s Bootcamp, the number of studio goers in March increased 31% from February and 48% from January. The new streaming workouts are also available.

The presence in the class is increasing thanks to relaxed restrictions and increased vaccinations.

“I feel more comfortable being closer to people and sharing air with people after I’m vaccinated,” said Rachel Weiss, another client at Orangetheory.

A person works out on an elliptical trainer at a crunch gym in Burbank, California, the United States, on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the new boom in streaming and home fitness. Crunch, for example, has been streaming for more than a decade.

“I can tell you that during the shutdown we spent money improving our lighting, sound, camera, and digital presence,” said Rowley, who argues that those who focus on fitness always have multiple options have used. “They were the first to buy the thigh master, the Ab Cruncher. So it’s not unique to say, ‘Oh, I have a gym membership and a peloton.'”

Peloton, which has seen phenomenal growth in its streaming fitness platform and bike and treadmill sales over the past year, doesn’t seem to be losing steam right now. While the publicly traded company wouldn’t release the latest numbers on streamed workouts, CEO John Foley recently said he wasn’t worried about a return to the gym.

“I can commit to hypergrowth,” said Foley. “What we’re seeing is a shift in which people want to exercise at home … it’s the future of fitness, Covid or not.”

Cari Gundee rides her peloton exercise bike at her home in San Anselmo, California on April 6, 2020.

Ezra Shaw | Getty Images

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Robert Dunfee