Worldwide Poll Suggests Gymgoers Won’t Return Post COVID-19, But CrossFit Makes a Case for Community

June 16, 2020 by
Photo Credit: Tim Swanston
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CrossFit affiliates have been reporting good retention of members post-pandemic, but a new study has revealed other gyms and franchises aren’t having the same retention.

Even in light of the current state of the brand, CrossFit gym owners — whether they’ve chosen to disaffiliate or not — haven’t reported a significant loss in the membership base despite the uncertain post-COVID-climate, some have even reported taking on significant numbers of new members.

But the research predicted otherwise: Athletic gear review and data analytics site, RunRepeat surveyed 10,824 gym goers internationally and found a startling 47 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t return once gyms reopen.

  • That number was even higher looking at just those surveyed in the United States at 50.16 percent.
  • 52 percent of females said they wouldn’t be returning, compared with 45 percent of men.

A few key points: Respondents were from 116 countries with the majority from the USA, UK and Australia.

  • The first question of the survey asked whether respondents were active gym members, those who answered “no” had their responses disregarded: “We wanted to make sure we were only getting responses specifically from gym members for the most accurate results,” study author Nick Risso told the Morning Chalk Up.

Broken down by state: In America, Georgia was the state least likely to see members returning once their gyms reopened (71 percent),  followed by Maryland (63 percent) and New Jersey (58 percent.)

But wait, this hasn’t been the case for CrossFit: At least that’s what we’ve been hearing from affiliate owners in the global CrossFit community.

More evidence of boxes bucking the trend: The poll also revealed that Australia had the highest amount of members who either already canceled or were considering canceling their memberships, at 41 percent.

  • That’s far from the case for Karl Robinson who’s the head coach at CrossFit 2010 in Sydney Australia. He said: “The only members we have had cancel are those who have moved away from the area or returned overseas.”
  • Fiona Muxlow who owns Australia’s oldest affiliate CrossFit North Queensland, also told the Morning Chalk Up: “Only cancellation I’ve had is one client right at the start that lost their job.”
  • Aimee Strickland who also owns a box in North Queensland, CrossFit Townsville told the Morning Chalk Up: “The ones who have not come back have various reasons, we have a stack of university students who live here to study…A couple have lost jobs, others have moved away…While these numbers seem big — we are a large box and had just over 200 members join our lockdown group and stay members in one way or another.”

So, why’s CrossFit exempt? We put that to the researchers: Nick Ruzzo from RunRepeat wasn’t surprised when the Morning Chalk Up presented the conflicting evidence from CrossFit affiliate owners.

  • The key for CrossFit Affiliates’ growth comes from the community, family-like culture they have developed,” he said. “CrossFit stands out from other gyms by being community-oriented, which can make the decision to return much easier and ease concerns they may have.”
  • The good news is, Nick Ruzzo only expects the positive trend to continue given that people are craving human interaction and connection.
  • “Knowing that you can be a part of a supportive community, get back to getting in great workouts and that the gym will be doing everything they can to ensure safety is helping to simultaneously address almost every need a gym member would want right now, making them the perfect place to attract new members when so many gyms are struggling to sustain,” Nick told the Morning Chalk Up.

The takeaway: Even in the post-pandemic, post-HQ shake-up moment, the emphasis in CrossFit has always been community. Whether or not your gym has chosen to keep it’s affiliation, if you’re signed up to the methodology and drinking the kool-aid, it’s likely member loyalty will be a key factor to see you through a global health crisis and a management breakdown in the brand.

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