During the pandemic, Studio B Fitness YEG in south Edmonton suffered financially. Co-owner Megan Clark remained optimistic when everything opened up again: new and old members would come back, helping the business thrive.
Instead the boutique fitness centre in Whitemud Crossing faced another challenge: inflation.
“The cost of everything else, with gas and food, people just don’t have the money,” Clark said.
“Especially with boutique fitness being a higher price point, with smaller classes — they just don’t have that income right now.”
Canada’s headline inflation rate has eased to 6.9 per cent from a peak of 8.1 per cent, but costs of things like food is still accelerating.
At the same time, the Bank of Canada has hiked interest rates by 350-basis points in just seven months — one of its sharpest tightening campaigns ever, to try to force inflation back to its 2 per cent target.
Clark said they have started to see more clients come back as pandemic restrictions have become a thing of the past, but business hasn’t taken off.
“I think just one thing after another — especially with gas prices — if we are not five, or 10 minutes away, the cost of getting to and from your workout is just not making sense anymore.”
Clark also points to her costs just to keep the doors open. Utilities have gone up — so too has the expense of the software her business uses. They’ve had to increase fees to help with the overhead costs.
Clark said they have offered discounts to get more members, but it’s not even making a difference.
“Even lowering prices aren’t bringing people in. It’s just giving a discount to people who are already coming and it’s sort of cycle.”
Clark believes boutique fitness centres have been struggling the most.
Global News spoke to other gyms who say their membership sales have been doing pretty good.
GYMVMT regional sales director Dennis Gardner said across the province, gyms have been seeing membership increase to almost a pre-pandemic level. He said inflation hasn’t affected demand yet.
“People really wanted to get back into that gym and be a part of that community again,” Gardner said.
“What we have seen is people will make decisions on their prioritized spending else where, and will have prioritized fitness at a much higher level.”
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Gardner said GYMVMT locations are full service commercial gyms, that offer strength training and a ton of fitness classes.
Group fitness and the personal training business was affected during the pandemic, but it has picked up, despite having to increase prices “slightly” due to inflation.
“We’ve seen a ton of interest back in our group fitness program again, and our personal training services really coming back.”
Breathe Fitness personal trainer Nicole Lark said they have also seen membership remain steady during the past several months. She also had to increase prices, but it doesn’t seem to be a detterant.
“People felt the negative impact of not being active, and when something is taken away, you realize how important something is to you or how much you value it,” Lark said.
She said since restrictions were lifted, there’s been more interest in personal training than pre-COVID.
“I think instead of compromising on their workouts, they are looking for other areas in their life they don’t find they value as significantly.”
Some people have adjusted how often they go or have found a partner to pay less.
“Some clients have asked to come from maybe three sessions to two sessions a week, or from 45 minutes to 30 minutes,” Lark said.
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