T Nation

Are Commercial Gyms Dead?

This is more of a thinking out loud/fielding opinion type post. I have been amazed by how many people in the US actually bought gym equipment during the lockdown and continue to buy. It’s pretty easy to see as evidenced by so many things being sold out and looking at forums and seeing how many people are talking about their new home gym or plans to begin one.

My belief is that in major cities there will have to be some as not everyone is going to stuff a gym into a studio or one bedroom, but I just don’t see how this model continues in suburban/rural areas.

I’d love to hear peoples’ opinions on whether or not commercial gyms have any real viability going forward given my view may be shaped by where I live (NY/CT area).

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They have obviously dipped in business but I don’t think that lasts too long.

People are always deciding to hit the gym and very few of these people will have an equivalent set of equipment at home.

For every person with a complete home setup acquired in the last year there will be dozens of people who will want to shed their pandemic pounds.


I like the gym for the camaraderie. Its like my social hour on top of a healthy work out. I could never replace it with a home gym. Not to mention the amount of equipment I would need to replicate my work outs would be severe in both cost and real estate (floor space).


Me too. I’ve seen standard plates and hex heads going for $1.50/lb and up on Facebook marketplace as demand continues to outpace supply.

It reminds me of a while back when hair feathering took off and they were using fly tying feathers. Even mid grade ($30.00) capes were going for upwards of 8-$900.00.

Yep. Lots of gym friends. The home workouts are not the same and my stuff is decent.

I think the niche gyms have an advantage. More social club in it than the big commercial gyms.

I do drive by a massive life time gym, and wonder how they make ends meet. Membership is like 90 a month, but their 115,000 sqft gym (and I don’t think this includes the tennis facility which is actually larger than the fitness area) with 4 pools, and 2 hot tubs (not an exaggeration) has got to have a massive overhead.

They could not even fit the whole thing in their website picture (outdoor swimming area and water park not shown)

They’re not dead, not even in NYC. Like you said about the studio/1br, there are just too many people living in tiny apartments (and paying fuckloads of money) to be able to fit gym equipment in there, and even if they could, they couldn’t be clanging weights around above their neighbors.

In Virginia, the gyms reopened, they were pretty much half full for a while, and most people have eased back into them. The gym is pretty busy again, like it was before.

All the gyms here are PACKED! New gyms still opening left and right. I have a nice home gym and go to a globo gym for what it’s worth :joy:

We have a lifetime here too, I was a member for a little bit. Very nice.

My buddy owns a gym and says gyms make their money not by the people coming in and working out, but buy the people who are paying for the gym memberships and not coming. Wether they keep it to try and one day be motivated, or have forgotten about it, or just like to tell people they are a member of the gym :man_shrugging: Either way, he said that’s where the money is, from The members you never see. I’d imagine fancy gyms like lifetime is more of a status symbol and many members have memberships just to say they do.

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I hit the gym to get away from my kids and missus for an hour or so as well as having a workout. I’m sure there’s plenty of guys in the same boat :joy:


Bro are you serious? A huge chunk of the American population are living in apartment complexes, many among them living in the second or third floor. How are they gonna put a squat rack in their unit?

Also, I don’t know if you’ve been to a commercial gym lately but the gym I go to is almost always PACKED FULL OF PEOPLE. Dude, PACKED.

Absolutely same here.

Are you talking quality gyms? Those died a long time ago. But commercial gyms aren’t going anywhere. Just look at Planet Fitness.

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A whole bunch of gyms closed (permanently) here. Outdoor recreation absolutely boomed over the spring/summer/fall - bike shops had record sales, trailheads and put-ins were a gongshow, etc. But i live in the best place in the USA for outdoor recreation, and gyms are still operating under pretty strict capacity and mask guidelines (which are actively enforced by staff and members) so it makes sense that gyms wouldnt be as packed as elsewhere.

As the weather turns gray and cold, and it gets dark by 5pm for the next 6 months itll be interesting to see if gyms make a comeback… but itll be tough with the capacity restrictions in place.

Personally, the gym was and is not a social place for me- i wear earbuds even when not listening to music. In fact, when i was single i turned down a couple girls from the gym because i didnt want to deal with any potential awkwardness at the gym. We are planning to buy a house in the next year or so and when i can outfit it with a power rack and a cable machine ill just tell the wife to stay the hell out and get my workouts in at home and save the 20mins total driving to/from the gym. Just need to get a garage big enough to fit all the bikes, skis and shop stuff that goes with that along with workout equipment.


I like hanging out at this local lake that has a lot of kayaking. Nothing quite like seeing someone hit themself in the head with a kayak.

An old coworker was into a lot of paddle sports. He had a quote that stuck with me.

“A tandem kayak is the fastest path to divorce”

I believe it. I’ve seen some domestic tranquility downright shattered trying to put one of those up on a Suburban.

I think he bought one hoping to get the wife out on the water. Ended up tipping it over, and getting into a fight. Lots of things can go wrong I suppose.

Tandem bikes are a great path to an argument I have found.