Jesse DeVille trains at a Crunch Fitness in Miami Beach on June 8th, 2020. Frequent gym goers are helping local health clubs thrive despite a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Exercise rats and fitness fans support fitness centers in South Florida as the industry adds muscle during the pandemic, at a time when many workout venues across the country have thrown in the towel.
For some, business is so good that they say it is time to expand. One owner says it is “COVID resistant”.
A year after Miami-Dade County allowed gyms to reopen in June 2020 after a few months of lockdown, new memberships have increased, the owners told the Herald. For example, visitor numbers stay healthy at 9Round Fitness, Anatomy, Barry’s Bootcamp, Personal Fitness Advantage, and Sweat 440, and other facilities in the area.
Owners attribute the health conscious culture, climate, and approach to COVID-19 in South Florida that have largely tried to continue life as usual for fitness gains. Local COVID gym closure numbers are not available, but according to a study by the International Health Racquet & Sportsclub Association recently quoted in an Associated Press, 9,000 clubs, or 22% of gyms across the country, have closed their doors in a story titled, “Are Gyms the Go away from amusement arcades and film distributors? “
Not in South Florida, they won’t.
“Customers have said they gained 20 to 30 pounds,” said Elizabeth Slowey, owner of 9Round Fitness at the Atlantic Village in Hallandale Beach. “COVID was an opportunity because people realized, ‘I can’t do this alone. I need people to help me get back into a routine. ‘ The people were so settled that they were ready to come out. “
Partner and trainer Derek DeGrazio will lead a full fitness class in Barry’s Miami Beach on Friday, August 13th, 2021. Gym owners are seeing greater interest in gym memberships than they did before the pandemic. Pedro Portal
After opening their gym in May, Slowey’s membership grew from 23 to 100 within four months has taken other security measures. The majority of its members are between 28 and 54 years old, with an even distribution of men and women.
Some gyms opened their first South Florida location or announced they would do so during the pandemic, including Life Time in Coral Gables and Silofit.
Meanwhile, some fitness center owners already operating in South Florida said they are planning to expand both locally and outside of the state.
Anatomy was founded in 2014 and has three studios in Coconut Grove, Miami Beach and Midtown as well as a room in 1 Hotel South Beach. The company’s COO and partner, David Geller, didn’t want to reveal how many members Anatomy has, but said its numbers are healthier than it was before COVID-19. Membership dues range from $ 161 per month to $ 255 per month.
Anatomy expects to open a handful of new studios in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties and expand into California, Hawaii and Tennessee through a partnership with the 1 Hotel brand, Geller said.
“It’s a growing market for a population interested in maintaining their health and wellbeing,” he said.
Since the pandemic, Cody Patrick, CEO of Sweat 440, has sold 26 franchises for his gym, including some in South Florida, due to open over the next several years. Patrick currently has 440 Sweat locations in Brickell, Coral Gables, South Beach and Chelsea, New York. Its South Florida gyms have a total of 1,500 members who pay between $ 69 per month and $ 129 per month.
“Some brands didn’t survive the pandemic,” he said, “so there are ways for us to take that market share and attract and help these existing members.”
Jaime Sturgis, CEO of Fort Lauderdale Native Realty, said he receives multiple calls every month from gym owners looking for more space in South Florida, including Crunch and Planet Fitness. Before the pandemic, interest was only half as high, he added.
They acknowledge that South Florida has one major advantage over many other markets across the country – the climate.
“When it’s snowing and a good 10 degrees outside, it’s hard to motivate yourself to hit the gym. With a static 80 degrees outside, it’s easier to get people through the gym door, ”said Sturgis. “In addition, it is bathing season all year round.”
He added, “It depends on the retail experience. It’s COVID-resistant. “
Some gyms ventured outside for classes for safety reasons. Barry’s partner in Miami, James Provencher, said his team offers popular outdoor workouts in Miami Beach and Wynwood.
In the first half of 2020, commercial real estate agent Beth Azor said many people were wondering what the future would bring for gyms. Several large chains filed for bankruptcy, including YouFitHealth Clubs and 24 Hour Fitness. The latter closed six locations in South Florida.
But when they got their start again last year, confidence in the industry was restored after members returned to frequent workouts, Azor said, noting how fitness centers can increase traffic to malls and other retailers nearby.
Olivia Ormos, CEO of the OO & CO Agency and longtime Barry’s member, visits the gym four times a week.
“I already had COVID. I may be a little biased because I didn’t suffer, ”Ormos said. “Because I was so lucky, I’m not worried about going to Barry. If I went anywhere it would be Barry’s. That’s where I feel safest. “
“People in the fitness world are less worried about the virus because we’re so healthy,” said Patrick of Sweat 440.
“The people at higher risk take extra precautions,” he said. “Some wear masks.”
Doug Jackson, president of Personal Fitness Advantage at Plantation, said he has only allowed a maximum of six people in his studio since reopening, including trainers, clients and administrative staff. He said it had 35 members, up from 70 members before COVID.
“Because my focus is on keeping the numbers down, some customers are no longer with us,” said Jackson. “I am satisfied with this decision.”
Gyms have implemented COVID cleaning and other safety protocols since reopening. Some, like Barry’s, require frequent COVID tests for trainers and other staff.
While some of the members of Sweat 440 paused or terminated their accounts, Patrick said that was to be expected during the summer months.
“We had people freezing their memberships,” he said. “That shows us that people are planning to come back because they’re out of town or waiting to see what’s going on with the variant.”
Rebecca San Juan writes about the real estate industry and reports on news on industrial, commercial, office projects, construction contracts and the intersection of real estate and law for industry professionals. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College and is proud to share about her hometown.
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