Leverkusen If you want to train in one of the facilities, you can only avoid an extra corona test as a booster. It deters customers, criticizes operators and complains about large sales losses.
At the beginning of the year, many people decide to get their body, which has been hardened by potato chips, gummy bears and beer, back in a slightly slimmer shape. The most important time of the financial year for fitness studies. But the containment policy against Corona also acts as a brake on the second pandemic winter. The 2G-Plus rule applies: Anyone who wants to train must be boosted or present a current and official negative test in addition to the previous “complete” vaccination – to the annoyance of the club owners.
Now the Employers’ Association for German Fitness and Health Facilities (DSSV) is sounding the alarm. According to this, new enrollments here in January fell by an average of 67 percent compared to last normal January 2020. Under the 2G Plus rule, studies register only about half of the actual possible clientele. In addition, many existing members temporarily suspend or terminate their contracts.
Ferdinand Linzenich, whose Linzenich Group also operates Sportclub4 in Lützenkirchen, says it will take years to recover this financial loss and subscription loss. “We ourselves have lost 23 percent of our customers.” During the repeated lockdowns, he only counted departures for nine months, which he emphasizes. The lack of interest in January is now particularly painful. “For us, January is something like December for retail,” the 65-year-old explains.
Meanwhile, larger chains are no different. Flexx Fitness from Cologne runs a branch in Küppersteg. General manager Benjamin Adriani reports that his company had over 30 percent fewer new registrations at the beginning of the year. In addition, the chain has lost about 25 percent of its members. “This will follow us for many years and pose major challenges.”
The industry reacts incomprehensibly to the fact that it is classified as a leisure offer and not as a health offer. Therefore, gyms are hit by closures faster than other sectors of the economy. Ferdinand Linzenich has been in the business for well over 40 years. The initially bad image of his division has improved, but the health aspect of the gyms is still not appreciated. Flexx Fitness Manager Adriani also says, “This is very unsatisfactory for us.”
Practice in connection with the promised and requested state corona aid arouses further indignation. Maximilian Baltes, owner of Lev Athletic Box (LAB) in Fixheide, reports: “The help that was promised arrived months late. If it were not for our members, we would have had to file for bankruptcy a long time ago.” The 30-year-old feels let down, as he emphasizes.Adriani reports something similar, he is still waiting for “huge sums” from over a year ago.
The current Corona rules allow the studios to open, but for many, the requirements for a visit are too high. Doing a quick test despite vaccination, having to wait for the result on the spot and only then be allowed to enter the hall, takes too long for many of the affected customers, says Adriani. And Linzenich refers to the weaker self, nourished by the test duty: “People have a good excuse as a result.”
Yet the three CEOs are not giving up. Linzenich hopes for an effect like 2021: When the studios reopened after the closure, registrations piled up in June, as they usually only do in January. Maximilian Baltes also trusts this. Nevertheless, he finds warning words: “But it does not help at the moment. We have to make money now. ”