Data analysts at Embryo reveal a shift in the fitness industry post-pandemic

a woman exercises in the gym.

The fitness industry has suffered over the past couple of years, with restrictions and closures having a huge impact on gyms, and many fitness establishments seeing a reduction in memberships, while others have been forced to close down permanently. Following an economic post-pandemic shift, many sectors are now beginning to see an uplift in business. But, will the fitness industry see the same results? With gym-goers finding other ways to stay fit and healthy without travel and membership costs, are people now in a rush to return to the gym? And while many people adjust back to busier lifestyles, will they have the time and disposable income to invest in travelling to the gym, or will fitness-related technology and at-home gyms, which spiked in popularity during the height of restrictions, have a lasting impact on the future of the fitness industry? The Digital PR team at Embryo have looked into the fitness industry, revealing a decrease in employment across this sector and an increase in people investing in fitness equipment.


According to recent findings made by Embryo, the fitness market was booming, with the number of gyms in the UK doubling between 2011-2021. However, as many were forced to close permanently, the number of gyms in the UK fell from 3,654 in 2020 to 3,610 this year, which, though not a massive drop, is a definite reversal of the steady rise of previous years. Findings also revealed a decline in private, high-cost gyms in favour of low-cost memberships, as more gym-goers have used this COVID-related jolt to their regular routines to explore the lower-cost options out there for keeping fit. The number of people employed in the industry also saw a decline in 2020, with the number of fitness instructors in the UK dropping to approximately 70,000 during this period.

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With the increased emphasis on health that has stirred, following the events of the past two years, more people are interested in how keep fit and healthy at a reduced cost and – what is perhaps the most damaging impact of the pandemic to the fitness industry – have become increasingly aware of how to creatively integrate the possibilities of these pricey gym facilities into their homes, or by use of the local outdoors, such as parks. The past few years have seen a surge in fitness-related technology entering people’s homes more than ever, with apps, online fitness courses, celebrity and fitness influencers holding live social classes, becoming daily at-home fitness hacks. The accessibility of these fitness go-to’s not only continued to keep people feeling healthy, both mentally and physically but, in fact, left many gym-goers questioning their high-cost memberships. 

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We also saw a sell out across a wide range of gym equipment as sales exploded, with many people looking to create their own gyms at home for both permanent and temporary use. Findings made by data analysts at Embryo reveal that sales for stepping machines increased by a staggering 6,500%, while weighted benches saw sales increase by 4,130%, and 2,113% for exercise bikes. Yoga and pilates equipment, gym accessories, cross trainers and treadmills were also popular choices amongst fitness enthusiasts who were interested in ways to keep fit at home. It will be interesting to see how the fitness industry survives this shift over the next year and how their marketing strategies will adapt their promotion of membership subscriptions, with possible discounts added,how they will market the ease of accessing a local gym to encourage more people back to their establishments after losing them to the convenience (and other perks!) of home gyms. 

All information was sourced from Statista and was accurate on the date of being found (20/09/21):