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The global gym market and gyms per capita

Many of us are now working out from home. The Financial Times just reported that Peloton experienced its highest level of participation last week. Some 23,000 people tuned in for one of its streamed classes. Naturally, anything that was possible to go online has gone online.

I’ve never really been a class guy, but I’ve been a regular at a gym since high school and it’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to getting back to as things subside. For many, the gym is a kind of third place. Though I would imagine it’s not the best place to hangout during a pandemic.

According to FT, the fitness industry was among the first to suffer in the UK (~£5.1bn industry), showing signs of decline even before any government lockdown. The UK also had one of the most profitable fitness industries in Europe. Here’s an interesting chart comparing gym penetration to revenue per club.

It’s interesting to note some of the outliers. Latin America has low penetration and low average revenue per club. And parts of Asia — notably Hong Kong and China — have relatively high average revenue per club, but still have fairly low penetration percentages. Do only rich people go to the gym in Hong Kong?

This chart maybe makes it seem like nobody in Latin America is working out. But if you, instead, look at the number of fitness clubs in each country, the data looks vastly different. In this case, there are two very clear outliers: the United States and Brazil. (The below chart is from Statista and is based on 2017 data.)

But Brazil also happens to be the most populous country in Latin America with around 209 million people. So let’s consider this chart on a per capita basis against, oh I don’t know, the US (~328 million), the UK (~67 million), and Canada (~38 million). Once again, the ranking switches. Brazil and Canada now come out on top with around 16 fitness clubs per 100,000 people. (I guess we’re just as body conscious as the Brazilians.) This is in comparison to 12 per for the US and 10 per for the UK.

So what does this all mean for our post-COVID-19 world? Who knows. But I’ll sure as hell be at the gym.

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