Post-COVID Data Proves Gyms Are Back, and They Are Packed

Post-COVID Data Proves Gyms Are Back, and They Are Packed

Americans are getting back on their feet … and getting to the gym, according to Lorraine Pyne, Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Zoom Media. Her company owns and operates GymTV, which broadcasts in 5000+ health clubs across the U.S., Canada and the U.K. A preliminary look at traffic data indicates that month over month, not only is gym usage increasing at a healthy pace, but Americans are slated to match and possibly exceed pre-COVID level gym attendance by July.

This is a first-look at post-COVID gym traffic. Following up on this optimistic trend, Zoom Media is partnering with Kantar, a leading marketing research and insights company, to launch a qualitative study on behaviors and attitudes of those who are now getting back to the gym. This information will then be combined with Kantar’s large quantitative base of data. This synergy helps deliver more granularity in the measurement. “That is what we get from our Kantar partnership,” Pyne explained, “They’ve done a great job in providing us the data that we need to propose our media impact and report results to our clients more granularly.”

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Will Koning, Chief Data Officer at Kantar added, “We collect check-in data from gyms and use primary research data to convert the check-in data to audience insights including behavior, dwell time, ability to view GymTV, etc.” From there, the data is converted to impressions, reach, frequency, and other standard media planning metrics.

Zoom Media’s Traffic Tracker

The first step in this marketplace analysis was a review of Zoom Media’s traffic tracker of the 3700+ GymTV locations across the United States. “It shows average monthly gym visits measured pre-COVID all the way to date,” Pyne stated. The results are very encouraging and point to a strong rebound in gym attendance.”

In terms of the major takeaways, Pyne shared that, “From the data, we are seeing that there is a high return to and enthusiasm for the gym. In just the month of April, we saw over 51 million visits to our GymTV locations nationally.” Of course, it would be unfair to compare these results to pre-COVID level but, Pyne asserted, “Our latest gym attendance, even with capacity limits, is already at 65% of visits pre-COVID. Therefore, what we are projecting at this point, based on the positive data trends we are seeing, is that with 100% of our partner gyms open and expanding capacities as well as our month-to-month increases, that gym attendance will be close to pre-COVID levels by July 1, 2021.”

This data reflects a national footprint across all 50 states and in over 190 DMAs. There was some regional variation in the data based on capacity limits, but “we’ve seen an increase across most markets if not all,” Pyne added. Demographically, the initial traffic when gyms first started reopening was largely from young men, “but now we are definitely seeing a balance between men and women.”

Koning noted that, “The audience currency we produce is from the gym chains. They provide the check-ins and we process that data using data science techniques to ascribe the data that we get from the primary research. “Check-in data alone doesn’t tell the full story of the visit, therefore, ascribing the check-in data enables Kantar to ascertain behaviors such as the areas of the gym where activity took place and duration of the stay, “whether they have been wearing headphones, so whether they can hear the ambient audio or not,” among other behaviors, “so as to get a very comprehensive understanding of who has seen the content and ads on GymTV and for what period of time so we can determine actual impressions, demographic breakdown and whether they were paying attention to the screens,” he explained, including recall.

Next Steps

Zoom Media and Kantar are about to launch the second phase of this qualitative study in early June which is much more in-depth. This portion of the study will incorporate a range of data sets including, “Google Mobility data to track and accurately report changes in behavior based on time, day, duration, demographic and frequency which allows us to model behavior even more granularly,” Koning shared, adding that Kantar can also add audience data that Zoom Media gets directly from their partners.


“We are doing a custom study of consumer insights that gives us a better analysis of the behavior and interests of our gym goers. We will be able to put those two data sets together to tell a really robust story on our audience. Not just a quantifiable one but a qualitative one,” Pyne noted, “We consider demographics to be a bit antiquated. It is more viable for brands to look at audiences based on lifestyle and interests and it gives our clients much more opportunity to really connect with their audience and show that the brand understands them and what drives them.”

Feeling Optimistic

The surge in gym traffic is no surprise to Pyne. “We expect to see unprecedented traffic to gyms in the fall and winter,” she predicted. “Because of the pandemic, the awareness and the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle is higher than ever before.” And with the current strong growth in gym attendance, Pyne sees it as, “the light that we have all been waiting for. It is a sign that life is finally returning, maybe a new normal, and people are getting out of the house. The increase in gym traffic shows us that more and more people are not just going outside again, they are prioritizing their health.”

After a tough year, the massive adoption of healthy, active lifestyles represents a move (or rather, a sprint) in the right direction.

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