Fitness flexes post pandemic muscles – Foothills Sun Gazette

Planet Fitness plans to open its second location in Visalia, the company’s first in Tulare County since the pandemic began
VISALIA – Planet Fitness is flexing its post pandemic muscles in Visalia this month with plans to open a second location in the city’s north side to handle demand.
The fitness franchise has filed preliminary plans with the city of Visalia to open a 16,514 square foot gym in the new shopping center at Dinuba Boulevard and Sedona Avenue.  The new center is starting to fill up with recent plans submitted by retailer Tractor Supply, Panera Bread, a car wash and several fast food restaurants, including In-N Out and El Pollo Loco. 
This will be the first Planet Fitness to open in Tulare County since the pandemic began. The company already has a gym on Walnut Avenue and Demaree Street in Visalia, a spot in Porterville, Hanford and Tulare, which opened in 2019, as well as five locations in the Fresno metro area. All of the Tulare and Kings County locations are 23/7 only closing from 2-3 a.m. each day for cleaning. 
Planet Fitness opened 34 new stores through June 30, 2022, bringing its system-wide total to 2,324 stores. The company also reported its total revenue increased by 63.5% over the second quarter of 2021 with a net income of $22.3 million compared to $14 million during the same time last year.
“Our high-quality, affordable fitness experience resonates now more than ever as Americans are seeking value and feeling the rising costs of everyday items such as food and gas. We believe that people will continue to prioritize their health and wellness while being more cost-conscious, and we offer a welcoming environment for people of all fitness levels,” Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau said. “During the second quarter, our ‘join trend’ returned to pre-pandemic seasonality with the addition of approximately 300,000 net new members, ending the quarter with more than 16.5 million.”
More than two years after the pandemic began, nearly 85% of consumers were missing the personal connection that an in-person gym offered, according to a study by Mintel Group, a market research company. Almost a third (29%) of regular exercisers agree that they like the community aspect of being a member at a gym/fitness facility. This comes as four in five (78%) Americans agree that mental/emotional wellbeing is the number one reason for exercising, slightly ahead of physical wellbeing (76%).
“For many, the pandemic has elevated the importance of gyms because they can assist with mental health, give exercisers time for themselves, stick to a routine and socialize with fellow gym-goers,” Mintel’s associate director of Household, Health & Wellness Rebecca Watters said. 
US consumers are increasingly finding more enjoyment in exercising as just two in five (41%) non-exercisers say they do not exercise because they don’t enjoy it, compared to half (49%) who said the same in 2020, Mintel’s research said. Meanwhile, over a third (35%) of consumers say that using exercise as time to themselves motivates them to work out. Over a third (36%) of consumers say they are working out with more regularity compared to before the pandemic, including 29% of those over the age of 55. Overall, weekly exercise is increasing as the number of Americans exercising once a week or more has risen from 67% in 2020 to 72% in 2021.
“Aging consumers have traditionally been ignored by the fitness industry, yet they make up a large portion of the population,” Watters said. “Brands that cater to older consumers by focusing on resistance, flexibility, and balance training along with low-intensity strength workouts will reap the benefits of gaining a host of new, older clients.”
Parents, especially fathers, exercised more frequently than non-parents during the COVID-19 pandemic: A third (33%) of dads with children under age 18 in the household exercised daily versus 22% of consumers overall. In fact, parents with kids under age 18 use exercise as a way to boost their moods (40% vs. 34% of consumers overall) and take time for themselves (39% vs. 35% of consumers overall).
“While it may seem counterintuitive that parents with young kids are exercising more, the increased responsibilities of parents two years into the pandemic, including child care and at-home schooling, have taken their toll,” Watters said. “Workouts have become one of a few activities available to Americans during months of quarantining and many parents turned to fitness as a way to escape their hectic schedules and blow off steam.”
Watters goes on to say gyms with inclusive mottos for all sizes, races and abilities, such as Planet Fitness’ “Judgment Free Zone” where they welcome first-time gym users and long-time lifters to “a workout environment in which anyone – and everyone – can be comfortable.” More than 90% of Planet Fitness stores are owned and operated by independent business men and women.
“Fitness platforms must employ instructors that more accurately reflect the general population,” Watters concluded. “Gyms will also need to make their spaces more welcoming to all consumers to align with their wishes and values; such a move could help in-person facilities get back to their pre-pandemic membership numbers.”
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