Mar 2, 2021 - News

Denver's fitness industry eyes a pandemic recovery

Illustration of a barbell with COVID-19 cells as the weights.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Denver's city-run rec centers will slowly reopen this spring, with a few gyms scheduled to come back online May 3, a spokesperson tells Axios.

By the numbers: Denver Recreation Centers saw a revenue loss of about $8.5 million last year due to COVID closures.

  • More than 9,500 members chose to credit their accounts, totaling about $1.2 million.
  • Another 1,800+ requested refunds, worth about $271,000.
  • And 262 sweet souls donated their membership fees, generating roughly $39,000.

What they’re saying: Although city officials project a $1 million revenue loss in 2021, the fitness industry as a whole remains hopeful.

  • "Consumer sentiment is strong — people want to start exercising again, members feel safe at their local gym and they realize it's important to their physical and mental health,” the Colorado Fitness Coalition Advisory Board told Axios in a statement.
  • "There’s lots of pent up demand — so much so, that we plan to continue to develop additional Planet Fitnesses in the Colorado market," said Rich Jost, who co-owns Planet Fitnesses in the metro area.

The big picture: Across the country, the fitness industry was hit hard by the pandemic, losing a total of $20.4 billion — or about 58% in revenue — according to a January report released by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association.

Yes, but: It could take another year before Denver's industry rebounds to pre-pandemic levels as mask mandates and physical distancing continue to pose challenges.

  • "Over the next months we will work to begin conversations with the state regarding mask exemptions while exercising, and decreasing the six-foot physical distancing while wearing a mask," the CFC advisory board said.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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