How are consumers feeling about visiting the gym or spa? We asked and found out

How are consumers feeling about visiting the gym or spa

How are consumers feeling about visiting the gym or spa since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic? We asked and found out.

Consumer attitudes towards gyms and spas have changed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s going to be a challenge to figure out how to navigate this new landscape but it looks like many people still want to pursue wellness, enjoy spa experiences, and work out at the gym. What does the public want from spas and gyms? Reassurance that safety and sanitation are being taken seriously, for one thing.

Way back in April, just a month or so after it all started, the International SPA Association (ISPA) released the 10th volume of its Consumer Snapshot Initiative analyzing the behaviors and expectations of both spa-goers and non-spa-goers navigating the COVID-19 crisis. The report focused on the ways in which the pandemic has altered consumer behavior, and would continue to alter it even after restrictions were eased – which they have been in the months since the study was conducted.

At that time, when asked whether they would be nervous about visiting a spa when things improve and businesses reopen, 25% of respondents said they would feel very nervous about visiting a spa, 47% would be “a little nervous,” and 28% would not be nervous at all.

Separate research by the Good Spa Guide and the UK Spa Association, also conducted last spring, found that people were eager for spas to reopen. Five thousand spa-goers were asked about their concerns and how their behavior might change. Some key findings from that survey: 

  • 80% of respondents expect to spend the same amount of money at spas as they did before.
  • 69% would be comfortable booking a manicure or pedicure.
  • 50% would be comfortable booking a facial or eye treatment.
  • 60% would be comfortable booking a massage.
  • 68% planned to book longer wellness retreats of 2-3 days.
  • 82% wanted to know about a spa’s hygiene policy in advance.

As it stands, spas and gyms are currently operating at about 50% capacity due to government rules and legislation. When they are allowed to open at full capacity, will the remaining guests also be ready to return? We asked some people, all of whom were either gym or spa goers (or both) before the pandemic, whether they have returned or plan to do so, why or why not, and, if not, what it would take for them to return.

How are consumers feeling about visiting the gym or spa? Here’s what they had to say:

Not until there is a vaccine. Ruth, 48, Brooklyn, United States

I can’t envision myself going back to a gym or spa until there is a COVID-19 vaccine. It’s not worth the risk. Even with masks and physical distancing, I think there is still a fairly big possibility of transmission and that these are sort of silly, fake solutions that don’t solve anything in sweaty, closed areas or where you’re just feet away from other people for a whole hour or more. I also think we will see a resurgence of the virus in the next few months.

I had a gym membership, but even before the pandemic I was using it less. I’ve become more accustomed to going running and working out at home. I didn’t go to a spa very often before either, except for the occasional pedicure.  

Won’t return until masks are mandatory, Amanda, 41, Toronto

I won’t be going back to the gym for the foreseeable future. I go to a notoriously busy gym in downtown Toronto that also has a daycare in it. They have restrictions, but masks aren’t required when you work out. Pre-COVID, I used to go five or six days a week.

I might return if they made masks mandatory, even while working out. It’s hot and sweaty but not impossible. I took a dance class and wore it the entire time and it was fine.  

I have been doing daily home workouts. I miss the options at my gym, and have decided to try an outdoor boot camp with a trainer for an option. I also do a ton of dance classes online. I miss the social aspect and my dance and gym friends, but at this point, I just miss my friends anyway.

Rooftop terrace classes with low numbers, Catherine, 42, London, UK

I went back to the gym because I have chronic back pain that was basically completely cured by Pilates. The Zoom classes at home just didn’t cut it.

Working while homeschooling my kids means I spend most days crouching over my laptop, so I needed exercise and stretching more than ever. My gym reopened early in a very limited way as they have a rooftop terrace where they could host classes. I was unsure what to expect but I thought it was worth a try. They had hand sanitizer and disposable gloves for touching equipment and lots of cleaning products for us to clean up after ourselves. They also kept the numbers low in the classes. 

I felt euphoric after my first class because it just makes such a difference to how I feel overall and I probably had a slight endorphin rush.

I am keen to avoid coronavirus even though I don’t have pre-existing health conditions so am relatively low risk, and I definitely don’t want to expose myself or my family to unnecessary risks.

I haven’t been to a spa but I did fall when I was rock pooling with my family and really hurt my shoulder so I went for a massage. I was surprised that it was available, to be honest. The therapist wore a face mask and did lots of hand washing. I wasn’t too worried because I was the only customer in the whole building and the pain was worse to me than the risk of COVID at the time.

Not going to let it stop my life, Charlene, 32, Toronto, Canada

I went to a spa and had a facial. I’m getting cracks in my face from the weather and decided I really needed the extra help. I have also gone for a massage with my mom. That was because both our backs were in a lot of pain. As much as we tried other options it was getting really difficult just to sleep.

I was not afraid at all. I am concerned about the virus, but not to the point where it’ll stop my life. I just take extra precautions. I try not to walk too close to anyone and always have my mask on. I wash my hands way too often now. But I have gone out to restaurants also.

Measures in place were safe for returning, Kassi, 52, Shropshire, UK

I decided to go back to the gym because it’s exercise that I enjoy and because I felt the measures in place were safe for returning. These included one-way walking areas, everyone wearing masks, and limited amounts of people. Exercising for me is imperative for my mental health and I felt the possibility of catching COVID over continued isolation outweighed the odds. I take measures to ensure equipment is cleaned before and after I use it and social distancing is in place.

I went for an overnight spa trip for the same reasons. It was a break from being at home alone and to enjoy some time away from ‘reality.’ There was limited capacity at the spa, masks were worn, and I felt safe.

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