At the end of the year, the fitness company closed its studio near Central Station. The industry is struggling with loss of members. “Home Gym” could be the future.
Stuttgart – The Fitness Company did not survive Corona. The Stuttgart-based company closed its training area on Heilbronner Straße forever after almost 20 years on 31 December. “The last few years have been associated with many difficulties for us, most recently the corona pandemic, which became an insurmountable challenge for us and ultimately forced us to make this decision,” write operators Heidrun and Helmut Malchow on the website. When asked by our newspaper, they declined to comment. The until recently independent company Fitness Company GmbH was founded in 1994 as a “Livestyle Club” and since 2003 it has been called a “health-oriented fitness center”.
The closure of one of the first studios in the city highlights the fitness industry, which is struggling to recover from the months of lockdown and has to implement new corona rules over and over again. Admittedly, the experience with this obviously varies from company to company. But it is clear that the already usual fluctuations have increased due to the pandemic, at the same time as no new customers could be acquired due to the closure. It also notices those who train again. The tableau is of course reduced in many places, and the area is often deserted during the noon hours.
the situation is difficult
“One or the other studio in Stuttgart has yet to close,” fears Jörg Echtermann of the fitness and wellness club Puls, which operates four locations in the urban area. Since the beginning of the corona pandemic, Puls has lost nearly 1,800 members. That equates to a share of about 19 percent. By July 2021 alone, that is, after the end of the second lockdown, by the end of the year, nearly 500 customers had been lost, says Echtermann, who describes the current situation as “very difficult”. Sales are currently not sufficient to cover costs. Members who are currently unable or unwilling to train due to the 2G plus rule have been offered the option to terminate the contract free of charge. So one hopes to keep the customers until there are easings again.
“Corona has changed our expansion plans,” says Timo Goldhacker, one of the two CEOs of Jonny M. Under this brand, there are five locations in Stuttgart and one each in Ludwigsburg, Bietigheim and Karlsruhe. After all, the new year started positively. However, it is still difficult for the “commuter locations”. If you work from home, you can no longer get past the studio on the way to and from the office.
It may also be the reason why the European fitness chain McFit recently opened a studio in the Mühlhausen district. This allows all residents to find a solid and flexible exercise routine without having to travel far, according to a company spokesman.
Training ground for rent
Jonny M. is also not available: Instead of opening more places, existing ones are being rebuilt. According to Timo Goldhacker, a “giant studio” with an area of 3,000 square meters is being built in Bietigheim. And in the western part of Stuttgart at Hölderlinplatz, a new concept will soon be launched. The 200 square meter studio can in the future be rented privately, as a training area for one person or a household. On the one hand, the idea came from Corona – sometimes only three people were allowed to stay here at the same time anyway. In turn, according to Goldhacker, it was found in discussions that there was a great need for a “home gym” in the densely populated west of Stuttgart. “For many people, a treadmill does not even fit in their apartment.” If you decide to create space at home, you can also buy all the equipment in the studio.
Daniela Stickroth, who runs Elements Studio at Paulinenbrücke, is optimistic about 2022. “The regular customers are loyal to us and are primarily grateful that we have not closed again so far,” she says. Therefore, the now mandatory use of FFP2 masks on the walkways in the studio “without the mumble” is accepted. Checking the vaccination certificates – the 2G-plus rule applies in both fitness studios and retail – works, even though it is time consuming for employees.