The health emergency due to the coronavirus has impacted the country’s industries in a different way and one of the most affected sectors has been that of gyms and sports clubs, which for now survives with a respirator.
Due to the closures due to confinement to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infections, which total more than 50,000 deaths in the country, 30% of the gyms in the country had to close permanently and this percentage can be increased to 50%, according to the Mexican Association of Gyms and Clubs (AMEGYC). Rodrigo Chávez, president of AMEGYC, comments that the most complicated problem is registered in Mexico City and the metropolitan area, where 4,150 units are located, which represent 32% of the total number of gyms in the country. If it doesn’t open in the coming weeks, some of the industry’s players will be forced to file for bankruptcy later this month. “The reality is that we do not have more oxygen to endure. By the end of the year, half of the gyms will disappear, only those that are located in the states where we are open will remain. We are surviving and those that are open maintain the operations of those in the center ”, declares the president of AMEGYC. The first chains of gyms, salons and boutiques for exercise closed their doors on March 18. With the impact, some of these groups adjusted their plans to open new units, but since the contagion curve has not been flattened, they have decided to stop operations in some of their centers. Sport World, which expected to open a sports center in Gran Terraza Coapa, south of Mexico City this year, reported in its financial report for the second quarter of the year on the closure of the Ciudad del Carmen, Cuernavaca and Minerva clubs, to close the quarter with 58 units. Another of the chains hit by the health contingency is Sport City, which closed its gyms on March 18 and is analyzing the closure of four clubs. “We are at a critical moment, we are one of the industries most affected by the pandemic. We have been closed for almost five months and it is difficult to sustain the operation with the clubs closed and receive income, ”says José Manuel Pérez y López, operations director of the gym chain.
Another blow for the company was that between 25% and 30% of its 75,000 members decided to freeze their memberships, especially those who belong to the vulnerable population, such as people with diabetes, obesity and the elderly. The company, which has been working on the development of a digital platform since the beginning of the pandemic, plans to start monetizing these channels in September, which until now are free to the public, a strategy that has allowed them to maintain contact with their users. Due to the closures, this industry has lost revenues of 760 million pesos per month in the metropolitan area and the capital of the country, which represent 38% of the national turnover. In addition to this, the sector has a joint workforce of 20,000 direct and 50,000 indirect workers, according to data from AMEGYC. “The fitness market in Mexico has a future, but for now it will be outside of Mexico City. The market will focus on where we are open and the central area, the most relevant, we will have to abandon ”, said the president of AMEGYC. For now, the gyms that reopened are located in Querétaro, Guanajuato, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí, Jalisco, Colima, Morelia, Baja California and Sinaloa. The outlook for the fitness industry in the country is complex, however, it could have a recovery in the medium term, given that Mexicans have adopted habits to improve their health due to the pandemic. That is why for Rodrigo Chávez, president of AMEGYC, the focus of the industry will be to strengthen disinfection and sanitation protocols so that gym users feel safe when they go to exercise. In this sense, he comments that the association carried out an analysis in the United States, which allowed it to detect 513 cases of coronavirus among 11.5 million attendees of sports clubs, which shows a positivity of infections of 0.004%.
“People are going to be interested in exercising to prepare for any illness, but they will not want to go to the centers if they do not feel 100% safe. That is why our gyms in the new normal will be with protocols, to give them security, and we trust that we will have more partners in the future, ”says Chávez. In this sense, Sport City has implemented protocols that have allowed the capacity that started at 20% to increase to 55% in the units that restarted operations. These reopening measures include the use of personal protective equipment, such as masks and masks, taking the temperature of the attendees, facial recognition technology to avoid contact with surfaces, reducing the capacity of people in their clubs and disinfection with protocols hospitable, among others. “We are working very closely with the authorities so that we can open at a yellow light. We review the protocols exhaustively and we hope that they will allow us to open, if not at an orange traffic light, if in yellow ”, explains the manager.