By STEELE HAUGEN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Gyms in Deschutes County reopened about a month ago and restrictions relaxed even more on Friday with the county moving to from high risk to moderate.
But with the doors closed for so long has the damage already been done?
“My membership levels aren’t going to be back for years,” said Kip Heilman, General Manager of The Athletic Club of Bend. “It just won’t.”
A national study by Run-Repeat, a shoe review website, surveyed more than 11,000 gym members over the past year.
The study showed over 64% of gym members are still not exercising at their gym and over 47% have either canceled or paused their membership.
That may not be the case for smaller gyms, but for larger gyms like the Athletic Club of Bend, they say those statistics are spot on.
“From a membership perspective we are probably down 50%,” said Heilmam. “From a member’s, individual perspective we are probably down 65- 70%.
The RunRepeat study, set to be released March 16th, also says nearly 35% of members are gone for good.
“They are going to develop new habits; they are going to go buy a Peloton or a mirror or going to do the plethora of online yoga classes that you can get and they are just going to do it at home,” Heilman added.
For gyms that focus on individual and small group clients like Shift fitness, they say they were able to hold strong through the pandemic.
“We haven’t seen that drop off in members right now and I really do believe it is because of our small size,” said Sean Weckel, owner of Shift Fitness.
Weckel hired two new trainers at one physical therapist to get ready for more clients back in the gym.
“Last week alone we were able to get five new members in the door and get them training and working out,” Weckel said.
“I do think the bigger gyms had it a lot rougher,” he added.
On a very busy day Heilman says the Athletic Club of Bend could have anywhere from 225- 250 clients.
“We’re averaging probably around 30 to 50 people here at the club,” said Heilman.
But more and more people are starting to come back and the energy better ever
“Since we reopened it has been very good,” said Heilman. “A lot of membership inquiries to be honest.”
“I have been in this business for 40 years and this is the most positive vibe I have ever felt in any of those years I have been working in this business,” said Heilman.