While their members lift dumbbells in the gyms, the operators of gyms in the Munich district groan under the burden of the Corona requirements. After significant losses in income during the two shutdowns in 2020 and 2021, many are defying themselves with the courage of desperation against the threat of insolvency. But there are also those who opened a gym in the midst of the pandemic. What unites everyone is the disappointment that pubs in Bavaria are allowed to admit those who have recovered or been vaccinated twice, while the 2-G-plus rule applies to them, that is to say , that a negative test must also be presented.
“I’m considering quitting my business,” says Heidi Knözinger, who has run the women’s fitness club Mrs Sporty in Aschheim for eight years. The number of members has halved since the first lockdown. If many of its members had not continued to pay their dues during the ten-month closure, it would already be insolvent, the businesswoman says. “Anyone who trains three times a week has to pass a test three times” – the current 2-G-plus regulation is simply too complex for many of its members. With its 200 square meters, her studio is small and manageable, so she can check compliance with the distance rules at any time. “But the big and the small are lumped together,” she complains. At the moment, she can not cope, and now she is hoping for a boom in the industry. But as for the future of fitness, there are no clear statements. “Unfortunately, we fish in troubled waters,” says Heidi Knözinger.
Many customers have gone missing in the last two years
“I do not know what’s next” – Luca Adriano, CEO of the Clever-fit department in Oberhaching, also complains. In his own words, he lost many customers during the forced closures, but also registered numerous new registrations. The 2-G-plus rule is definitely annoying to people, he says. At the very least, young people with a student card do not have to prove a booster vaccination. Members can have themselves tested in a container in front of the building, and a temporary employment agency has been set up specifically for this purpose. According to Adriano, non-members can also use this service. “2020 and 2021 were not good years for the industry,” says Michael Pribil, owner and CEO of nine physical and mental training studios in the Munich area, including one in Grünwald. It was a huge challenge for him to get through both lockdowns, says Pribil: “We lost a lot of customers, the financial damage is huge, I am left with 30 to 40 percent of my costs.”
But not only customers jumped off. It has become much harder to find new employees, says Pribil. In his opinion, the fact that members have resigned and that new customers are not received so well is also due to media coverage. This raises the fear that you can quickly become infected indoors. “Of course, there is an increased risk of infection in a small basement, but we add 60,000 cubic meters of fresh air every hour, so there are no aerosols.” The existing customers are also very disciplined, with those without booster vaccination a test is performed under supervision in the studio.
Nico Steinegger saw an “opportunity in the crisis” when he opened the fitness studio “Fit +” in Aying on December 12 – the incidence values have just skyrocketed again. The 23-year-old has invested 150,000 euros and is quite confident. In January 2020, he announced for the first time after realizing that there were no such offers in his hometown. He had a hundred customers the first day, and now 140, he says. The young man hopes to get his investment back in four years. “Of course it would be better without Corona.”
Some invest in quality: new equipment and even spas
As early as September 2020, Christian Freinecker began to realize his lifelong dream and opened the “Bayernfitnessstudio” in Hohenschäftlarn with a business partner. “And after two months, it went boom,” the fitness business economist recalls. But when he found out about the shutdown, he immediately said, “I will not let the virus ruin it.” Despite the erratic start caused by the pandemic, Freinecker is confident – and defiant: “We will screw up, now more than ever,” he says. He was fortunate that during the shutdown there were almost no redundancies from members, during the period of forced closure “he turned his studio 180 degrees”: he bought higher quality equipment and even a whirlpool. In his opinion, politicians do not appreciate that not only muscles are trained in gyms, but also that health is generally strengthened. “By the way, I was first notified of the bridge support for November 2020 in May,” reports Freinecker.
The employers’ association of German fitness and health facilities DSSV sees the situation in the industry as difficult. “In the last two years, we have lost more than two million members nationwide,” said President Birgit Schwarze. On the other hand, there were no new registrations that could compensate for the loss of customers. The President sees the reason for the reluctance to join new memberships in the “general insecurity of the people.” Because people can not assess what rules apply for the next two to three months, they are also not willing to make appointments with the gyms. However, she does not see the fitness industry as completely black: “Our companies are struggling with all available means – they want to keep their customers.”