2G-Plus: The fitness centers are running out of breath

Status: 08.01.2022 15:18

In fact, the good intentions in January drive several new customers to the gyms. But the industry continues to lose members. 2G-Plus wears interns and coaches.

By Philipp Wundersee, WDR

“The new initiatives are extremely staff-intensive,” says Fabian Becker. He runs the sports studio Aggertal in Lohmar. Becker stands in the entrance area and checks the current test, vaccination certificate and identity card for each guest. “It keeps us from our real task: the training support for our guests,” Becker says.

The sports studio in Lohmar is in its 39th year – with back courses, yoga and functional training. The months of lockdown and the many restrictions on admission of members have left their mark, Becker says. A third of the members have already resigned – members like Becker and his team have won over and retained for years. “This is a long-term decline in sales that the country is supposed to mitigate with ridiculous aid programs,” Becker criticizes.

Good intentions – without new members

Thanks to the new decisions for the year, January is a good time for many new guests to start with health sports or fitness training. “Obviously, this is one of the months with the highest sales for the industry. It is now being dampened for the second time by measures that are incomprehensible to the often boosted guests,” says Becker.

“The 2G-Plus rules have a significant impact on new registrations,” says Ralph Scholz, president of the German Association of Fitness and Health Industry. For many people, presenting a current test in addition to a vaccination or recovery certificate is too time consuming. Self-testing in the studio is not allowed, even under the supervision of trained staff.

“Where the rule was introduced, new business has almost completely collapsed,” Scholz criticizes. In the first quarter, gyms will typically achieve a third of a year’s of new registrations.

“Fucked by politics”

Becker repeatedly experiences in his studio in Lohmar how guests and coaches resent the stricter rules. “Under the current measures, the mood is slowly changing,” says the sports and fitness trader. “Guests feel cheated by politics, and confidence in and acceptance of the measures is waning.”

While the gyms were closed during the shutdown, costs are now continuing to run in full. According to the association, many operators again have existential concerns. “For example, we invested a mid-five-figure amount from private funds in a fresh air system with a live presentation on the website,” Becker says. This system is unique in the industry. “Training with us is almost like training in the fresh air, with the addition that even the pollen is filtered out beforehand.”

The industry invests enormously in hygiene, ventilation and protection concepts, which unfortunately receive little attention in politics. Becker would like more appreciation and more responsibility from politicians, such as the on-site self-tests.

A rag rug of rules

“Many of our guests also complain that the same language is not spoken in the federal government and that the measures here in, for example, North Rhine-Westphalia are tougher than in other federal states,” Becker said.

There is currently a patchwork of rules for fitness studies – in some federal states only the 2G rule applies, in others a quick test is also required, in some this does not apply to people with booster vaccination. “Politics lacks a long-term strategy,” criticizes the industry association for fitness and health. The industry is concerned about the crucial start to the year.

Study leader Becker and his team hope that as many people as possible continue to train and go into the studio despite the controls. “The Aggertal sports studio and the entire industry make a major contribution to keeping the general public healthy,” he says. “We are an important and indispensable part of the health care system – especially during the pandemic.”

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