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Fitness And Gym Memberships May Never Recover From Pandemic, Surveys Suggest

A Washington, D.C. Equinox Sports Club in the same building as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel at 1170 22nd St. NW.

As 2021 begins and the coronavirus pandemic rages on, the hardest-hit sectors of commercial real estate have been grappling with a central question: How much of the damage is permanent?

For fitness-based retail, new survey data suggests that a distressing number of patrons whose gym-going habits were altered or interrupted don't plan on coming back, even once public health conditions have improved. Much like an anticipated permanent increase in remote work, many have found that the trade-off in convenience and price for home exercise is worth it.

A TD Ameritrade survey of adults 24 and over with at least $10K in investable assets found that 59% of the 2,009 respondents don't plan on renewing their gym memberships once the pandemic is over, CNBC reports.

A separate survey conducted by The New Consumer and consumer-based tech investor Coefficient Capital found that 76% of all respondents have switched from working out in gyms to home exercise and that 66% of those prefer their new routines, Fast Company reports.

That trend has been clear in the capital markets, with no company a starker example of the centralization of the home in modern fitness than Peloton, which operates an app with interactive fitness classes in addition to selling tech-enabled exercise bikes and treadmills. In the past 12 months, shares of the company have quadrupled in value from $30.40 per share on Jan. 7, 2020, to $148.53 at the end of trading on Tuesday.

A smaller example of the changes in consumer behavior is similar company Mirror, which makes a wall-mounted mirror that also plays workout videos and was acquired by Lululemon Athletica for $500M in the summer. On the flip side, fitness chains 24 Hour Fitness, Gold's Gym and New York Sports Club all filed for bankruptcy last year, Fast Company reports.