Monday, December 15, 2008

Despite Economy, Gyms Still Going Strong

“Some may see gym memberships as an extra expense, but many gym goers still believe it's the last thing they'd give up despite this economy. ‘It is non-negotiable. It is the one thing I would not change. I mean, it is just a requirement to stay happy,’ said Terry Kickerson, a gym member. ‘I'm out in the job market actually. So coming to the gym and staying focused and positive helps keep the confidence,’ said Drew Rudolph, who also belongs to a local gym. Despite news of Bally Total Fitness once again filing for bankruptcy, some layoffs at CRUNCH Fitness clubs and murmurings of corporate restructuring at others, most of the industry claims to be close to recession-proof. According to the International Health, Racquet and Sports Club Association, or IHRSA, gym memberships peaked nationally in 2006 at more than 42 million, and were down just under three percent last year. Ed Trainor, a member of IHRSA and Vice President of Town Sports International, which operates New York Sports Clubs said he's hoping that even in the midst of an economic downturn, membership rates will remain steady. ‘We've actually tracked over the last two months, and I'm sure the rest of the industry is noticing this as well. Even though people are losing jobs, our gym numbers are up. People are taking advantage of their health club membership by working out more, so the value is the more times you use it, the better the price point,’ said Trainor. Some of the key things gym owners and trainers said they are doing in this economy are to remain creative and to try and keep things flexible.”

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