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Gyms hit with alarming lack of traffic in key January month

Major gyms in the US didn’t experience the traffic boom last month they typically do in January — a tough start that doesn’t bode well for gyms looking to raise prices.

Foot traffic last month — typically the busiest month of the year — was flat year-over-year at 10 major US fitness chains, according to Placer.ai data earlier reported on by Bloomberg.

That’s in sharp contrast to 2023 and 2022, when for the 10 clubs Placer.ai tracked — including Planet Fitness and Equinox — January visits had risen more than 40% each year.

Budget-friendly Planet Fitness, seen as a proxy for the industry as it’s the largest chain, Bloomberg reported, adds roughly 400,000 members in a typical January — about 25% of its 1.7 million yearly sign-ups.

All the while, the chain, which boasts nearly 2,500 clubs nationwide, is on track for its second-worst quarterly sales growth since the pandemic, in 2021, according to Bloomberg.

Xponential Fitness — which owns popular boutique fitness studios like CycleBar, Pure Barre and boxing club Rumble — is also expected to report its slowest revenue growth for the first quarter since going public in 2021, Bloomberg reported.

Foot traffic at 10 major US gyms last month — including luxury offering Equinox and budget-friendly Planet Fitness — was flat year-over-year. Typically, January visits spike roughly 40% each year. UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Over the past year, Xponential’s share price has plummeted more than 54%, though Xponential’s Chief Financial Officer John Meloun told investors on its 2023 earnings call in November that consumer foot traffic at its more than 3,000 studios “has grown compared to the year prior.”

Analysts said that attempts to raise membership prices have hurt membership growth.

Planet Fitness, for example, mulled raising its $10-a-month classic membership price late last year.

Interim CEO Craig Benson told analysts that the chain was considering the advance as consumers get used to inflated prices, though the chain never followed through with the increase — which would have been Planet Fitness’ first price hike in 30 years.

Benson has assumed the role of CEO ever since Chris Rondeau abruptly left the company after a 10-year stint at the helm.

In a typical January, Planet Fitness -- the largest gym chain -- adds roughly 400,000 new members.
In a typical January, Planet Fitness — the largest gym chain — adds roughly 400,000 new members. UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Stifel analyst Chris O’Cull said in a Monday note obtained by Bloomberg that Planet Fittness’ inability to advance its prices signals that it may be reliant on promotional offers if it wants to drive growth.

“A $10 price point is really where investors and the industry is gravitating toward,” TD Cowen’s Rakhlenko said, per Bloomberg.

Planet Fitness’ share price has tumbled more than 15% over the past 12 months.

The Post has sought comment from Planet Fitness and Xponential.

This story originally appeared on NYPost

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