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Gym traffic is already thinning out as people give up on New Years resolutions

6 months ago by James Mattone in Trends
dima_sidelnikov, iStock

We always want to see people better themselves and get healthy. Last month, we wrote about how people are talking about going to the gym, even though their actual foot traffic to the gym was questionable.

But as January rolled on and February settled in, it appears that many New Years resolutioners have not transitioned into regulars.

At three of the most-popular gyms across America, two important measures of foot traffic and popularity tracked by Facebook ($NASDAQ:FB) pages — "talking about" and "were here" data — slowed down as the first month of the new year ended.

For those who are unfamiliar about "talking about" and "were here," here's a quick primer:

Measuring "talking about"

Facebook measures how much people "talk about" a brand, person, or business — basically anyone with a Facebook page that people can Like. It measures how many times users have posted something about a user or brand, as long as that user or brand has an account or page on Facebook. It's a good measure of a company's presence over time on Facebook and how many people are engaging with the brand. In our case here, it could include people saying "I just joined Planet Fitness" or "heading to LA Fitness to get swole".

Measuring "were here"

Facebook "were here" measures the cumulative score of check-ins, selfies, and status updates from business locations. It's a way to measure relative foot traffic. By looking at overall "were here" count and then solving for the change in "were here" counts per day, we can reveal which days saw the highest spikes day over day to see if any time of the year is more active than others. In our case, it measures how many people actually showed up at the business location in question. It measures action, not just words.

LA Fitness ($LAFITNESS)

For LA Fitness, fewer people talked about the brand in late January, when its "talking about" count dropped over 1,000 statuses when comparing January 24 (a Thursday) and January 28 (Monday).

At the same time, the "were here" count slowed down percentage wise after a mid-January boom.

Planet Fitness ($NYSE:PLNT)

Planet Fitness showed a slight rebound after its "talking about" count tapered off right around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but it remains far from the peak of resolutioner season: pre-MLK Day and post-New Year's Day.

Like LA Fitness, its "were here" count slowed down as the month rolled on.

24 Hour Fitness ($24HOURFITNESS)

Bucking the trend of its competitors, 24 Hour Fitness' "talking about" count actually grew as the new year rolled on, with people posting plenty of statuses, promo codes, and photos that included the gym in some form. 

Then again, the company also marketed a Los Angeles Rams inspired workout session as the new year rolled in, which could have created some chatter about the workout (more so than being at the gym).

As for "were here" count, it went with the status quo. From January 2 to January 15 — 13 days — there were 62,562 statuses that were made from 24 Hour Fitness locations. From January 15 to February 2 — 18 days — there were 57,191 statuses made, a decrease of 8.59%.

One theory outside of the "resolutioner exodus" as to why these metrics are down is an increase of people not taking pictures and posting statuses of themselves at the gym. People could be tired of sharing their "day one bod" and, to the benefit of everyone around them, spending less time on their phones while they complete their workouts.

But if it is true that resolutioners are dropping out, we have some sympathy for them; starting a new habit is hard, and the gym can be intimidating after an injury or a few failed reps.

Hopefully, those that have fallen off the grind have found some nice home workouts or a good buddy to help them reach their goals of being healthier and happier in 2019.

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James Mattone

James is the Associate Editor at Thinknum Media, mainly covering video games, food, and tech news, but not afraid to head into Sephora or beauty brands if need be...

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