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Could a Slow January for Gyms Spell Trouble?

Could a Slow January for Gyms Spell Trouble?

Foot traffic to major fitness operators like Planet Fitness flattened in what is typically a busy month for gyms and studios

January typically brings a surge in fitness and health resolutions, with gyms bustling with new members and those recommitting. However, foot traffic to ten major fitness operators fell flat last month, with analysts attributing the decline to unfavorable weather conditions nationwide and increasing competition., a software company leveraging location intelligence such as anonymous cell data, examined traffic to leading fitness operators Planet Fitness, Xponential Fitness, Equinox, Crunch Fitness, F45 Training, Anytime Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Fitness International and Ultimate Fitness Group.

Citing findings from the analysis, Bloomberg suggests that the sluggish start could indicate a challenging year ahead for fitness operators, with traffic having flattened from January 2023. In contrast, visits had risen more than 40% in each of the last two years at Equinox, Planet Fitness and Xponential Fitness, according to the publication. 

Planet Fitness, the largest listed fitness chain, typically adds roughly 400,000 members in January, and according to Bloomberg, is on track for its “second-worst quarterly sales growth since 2021.” The fitness operator has an earnings call scheduled for next week and has been transparent about exploring a price increase for its basic-entry White Card, which has remained at $10 per month for the last 30 years.

“$10 is not what it used to be 30 years ago, so we’re now experimenting with different price levels with the entry-level classic (White) card,” confirmed interim Planet Fitness CEO Craig Benson last month at the 2024 ICR Conference.

The fitness operator has been testing three White Card price points ($12.99/$15/$14.99/month) in 100 clubs, each with a matching control group. 

Intentions of a price increase may have led Planet Fitness to take a hit with its signup numbers, suggests Bloomberg, reporting that the fitness chain began advertising its standard $10/month promotion in mid-January. The publication cited a note from Stifel analyst Chris O’Cull: “We believe this was an indication the advertising campaign was not producing the desired results.”

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Editor’s note: Planet Fitness told Athletech News it began its planned $10-per-month promotion in late December 2023, not January 2024 as originally reported by Bloomberg

Still, the big box fitness giant recently launched a media network for advertisers and is nearing 20 million members as it’s on a mission to continue attracting Gen Z and Millennials with its inclusive approach and budget-friendly prices. 

Xponential, a leading boutique fitness franchisor now pushing into the weight-loss medication market, touted increased membership numbers, studio visits and sales growth in 2023 during its participation at the ICR 2024 Conference and the Jefferies Winter Consumer Summit last month.

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