Destabilized by the health crisis, the operators of the fitness rooms are still, for many of them, in difficulty. In September, the key month in terms of subscriptions, the The practitioners’ return did not live up to expectations. Practitioners continue to question the lasting consequences of Covid and the changes in practitioners’ behavior.
From the survey on the sector presented by Union Sport & Cycle, the inter-professional organization, emerges a 20% drop in cinema attendance in September compared to the same month of 2019, against a decrease of 15% a year ago. The subscriptions are displayed, they are down by 22%. It was -31% in September 2020. The recovery in activity, observed in the wake of the the reopening of the theaters in early June was interrupted by the institution of the health card.
Win back customers
This is confirmed by the managing director of Fitness Park (250 rooms), Philippe Herbette: “The health pass was a big brake. It is going better, but we still recorded a 30% drop in attendance and number of registrations in September compared to September 2019 “. His club concept” was very influenced because we have a lot of young people “, he points out. Form Development’s chief executive, Daniel Hallifax, who heads a dozen establishments in the RITM Sport network (formerly HealthCity), “The priority is to win back customers. We’ve still lost 35 to 36 percent of our customers,” he testifies.
The general manager of the Veronese group (Neoness brand), Céline Remy-Wisselink, notes a return “to normality, with a volume of online registrations even higher than 2019”. The latter is also happy to keep its staff. Because, like catering , the industry has suffered a hemorrhage of employees turning to other trades due to the long and repetitive periods of closure. “Some of our employees have entered banking and real estate,” notes the Fitness Park boss.
“There is a strain on employability. Many employees have not returned, “says Union Sport & Cycle CEO Virgile Caillet.” All profiles are interested, it’s not just the coaches, “notes the latter.
Intangible, the development of remote practice remains limited. “It is complementary but does not replace the camera”, notes in particular the French director of Dutch operator Basic-Fit, Susanne de Schepper.
In fact, operators remain confident in the prospects of the fitness sector, in a context of consolidation. From the the theaters have already closed and / or they are “on the market” as happens in Paris, they say, for the CMG units. Some networks, on the other hand, continue to expand. Basic-Fit recently inaugurated its 500th room, while Fitness Park, which uses the brand’s license, has “around 20 in the pipeline by the end of the year”. The Neoness leader believes, for his part, “to be able to accelerate development, why not with partnerships with other brands. “
Sports buildings: between agony and digitalization
That said, the operators are asking the government not to “cut off the aid” that the sector benefits from. The union of employers of sports halls Active-FNEAPL asks the government “for a specific recovery plan for the commercial leisure sector. “He recommends a reduction in VAT in proportion to the months of closure. In his opinion, 22% of theaters may have to go to the commercial court.
Basic-Fit reaches the threshold of 500 rooms
Present in France since 2015, in organic development, the Dutch Basic-Fit group has opened its 500th fitness room in Nanterre, in the west of Paris. Its director for France, Susanne de Schepper, confirms the brand’s ambition to participate in the democratization of sport. “We are the Netflix of fitness,” she says. Basic-Fit already has at least one club in the city with more than 30,000 inhabitants outside the Ile-de-France. However, “there is potential in small towns,” assures Susanne de Schepper. The French market has an indoor fitness penetration rate of 8%, compared to 17% in the Netherlands. Two openings are planned shortly, in Brest and Angoulême.