Resolve to Get Fit This Year?

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Blis Data Shows How Well Those Resolutions Are Holding Up.

If you belong to – or even drive past – a gym, you’ll notice a lot fewer parking spaces and open treadmills in January. The reason why is obvious: it’s the New Year’s resolution crowd, trying to get the year off to a great start by getting in all the hot yoga, spin and Zumba classes they can fit into their schedules. “New year, new you,” right? By the same token, you’d expect visits to bars and fast food restaurants to drop in lockstep as the newly health-minded shift to healthier mindsets.

We decided to do some research to find out for sure, and to see what some major fitness franchises could learn from footfall data. What we discovered is that while many people are away for the first week or two of the year, footfall to gyms – as well as bars and fast food places – is down during those weeks compared to the first two weeks of the previous month.

Interestingly (but not surprisingly), gyms saw less of a drop in early January then bars and fast food joints, so those fitness-resolved people do seem to outnumber their gluttonous neighbors. Overlap of frequent visitors is higher amongst gyms at 27 percent, which suggests that the exceeding footfall is made up of those who overindulged instead of working out in December, or a rush of new members.

Inc. reports that 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are broken by the second week in February, and our data supports that. By January 10, we already saw a drop of 32 percent in footfall to CrossFit, dance, MMA, yoga, Pilates and rock-climbing facilities. By the end of the month, you won’t have to fight for a space by the door, and you might even be able to “T” your arms in yoga class: our research found that footfall dropped by nearly a quarter by January 30th. (Of course, if you’re still fighting for mat space, consider avoiding the afternoon hours, when traffic to fitness studios is at its heaviest.)

Motivation seems to vary by region. Our research across the country covered these popular gyms:

  • Barry’s Bootcamp
  • Equinox
  • Planet Fitness
  • SLT
  • Soul Cycle
  • Title Boxing
  • Yogaworks

We collected data to see who worked out at these gyms at least once within the first two weeks of January in the following US cities:

  • Austin
  • Boston
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York
  • Seattle

Comparing footfall across all six cities, Seattle residents seem to be the most motivated early on. Gym footfall was 112 percent higher in the first two weeks of January than the same period in December. Austin and Los Angeles were close behind with 108 and 105 percent, respectively. Numbers in Boston and New York actually dropped, which could reflect a lack of enthusiasm for resolutions – or just the possibility that more people were still out of town in the chilly Northeast.

But while Seattleites and New Yorkers may have little in common when it comes to fitness (and topography), there is one area in which they’re similarly wellness-minded: both avoided Burger King in the first two weeks of the year! Residents of the two cities opted instead for a freshly-made sandwich from Subway for a quick meal, although Seattleites were twice as likely to do so.

By the end of January, the true commitments to fitness were starting to show. Barry’s Bootcamp and Soul Cycle made clear gains, with greater activity at their locations in the cities we surveyed. Equinox and and Planet Fitness held their own, with footfall slightly higher than average, while YogaWorks, Title Boxing Club and SLT began to lag.

Nearly every gym amps up its marketing around the holidays to capitalize on the resolution market. Obviously, there’s good reason to consider this strategy: traffic does go up in every kind of fitness studio in the earliest weeks of the year. There’s opportunity for most gyms to attract new members who are feeling the guilt of holiday overindulgences and the optimism of a new start – but there may be more opportunity for some than others. Based on our research, popular studio, Soul Cycle, has opportunity to expand in both Seattle and Austin. The brand has a smaller footprint in these major cities, but the appetite for fitness is certainly there.

Fitness brands can gain a lot of insight about both their members and their expansion opportunities with location data. Here’s hoping 2019 is the year they resolve to lunge a little deeper into their data.

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