Return to fitness: Here’s how SA gyms are flexing their muscles again
Two of South Africa’s biggest gyms recently said that they are coping well and seeing a steady return of their members, as well as new members joining.
SA gym promotions
Both Virgin Active and Planet Fitness are currently running promotions but said that these promotions were not implemented in order to regain memberships that lapsed during the hard lockdown.
According to Business Insider, gyms in South Africa was one of the industries hardest hit during the lockdown. And so, in the immediate aftermath of the initial COVID-19 hard lockdown, gyms worked hard to ensure the public that returning to clubs was safe. They also initiated extra measures to protect members, including stringent sanitisation processes and reduced numbers.
Beat the winter blues
Now, they are offering promotions such as “get seven days free” at Planet Fitness and “skip the joining fee and enjoy the month of June on us” at Virgin Active. Some gyms also allowed clients to freeze their memberships, rather than cancel outright. As of June 2021, these gyms are also seeing an increase in their numbers.
“We run special promotions that vary throughout the year to motivate South Africans to live active and healthy lifestyles, while also rewarding members with reduced fee structures, waived activation fees or kit to make their in-club experiences even easier,” Nikki Cockcroft, global chief marketing and technology officer at Virgin Active, told Business Insider South Africa.
Meanwhile, Planet Fitness told the publication that its current promotions have nothing to do with COVID-19, and instead said that winter is a difficult time to make it to the gym – and presumably convince people to sign up. For this reason, it’s allowing new and existing members to bring a friend to train with them free of charge, as a way to stay motivated to exercise during winter.
Planet Fitness marketing manager Gillian Elson said the club has, however, seen “record numbers” of members returning to the gym and first-time members signing up.
Virgin Active said it has seen “a steady improvement” in the usage of their facilities, with approximately 70% of their members having returned to training since August 2020.
“We experienced some short-term obstacles to bringing members back in 2020, but as we continue to adapt to living within a COVID-19 world our long-term prognosis is that the pandemic will be positive for the industry. It highlighted the importance of fitness in maintaining a strong and healthy immune system as the first line of defence and fitness providers are best placed to serve the market,” says Cockcroft.
Fit and Healthy
Planet Fitness also believes that this is the case.
“People have realised that in order to build up their immune systems to combat the virus, whilst they wait for the vaccine, they need to be fit and healthy and we believe that this has created an upsurge in demand for our services and for the brand-new club that we have opened recently,” Elson said.
Based in Johannesburg, Brian Derenberger is a Senior Editor at Healthy Organic Lifestyle.