Fitness news: Why are 70% of UK gymgoers not going back to the gym?

A new study found gymgoers don't want to go back. Will gyms ever recover?

Woman doing a Tabata workout, a form of HIIT
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Coronavirus has changed our fitness habits. As the gyms were closed for months, we had to re-learn how to exercise outdoors, taking up no-equipment HIIT workouts, running and learning to use dumbbells to deadlift in lieu of being without heavy barbells. 

Some of us may have purchased kettlebells, ab wheels or resistance bands once it was clear facilities were shutting in lockdown. It's small wonder many of us might never be going back to the gym, if one recent poll is to be believed. 

Athletic shoe review service Runrepeat, via the fitness app Fiit, conducted a survey on its worldwide members. It was found the UK had the highest gym membership cancellation rate of any other country, with just 32% of respondents returning to the gym over the last few months. 

Many gyms have placed systems in place by limiting the amount of members that can enter, ensuring social distancing and regularly sanitising equipment. Many staff members wear masks, and Puregym, the UK's most popular gym chain, is reopening at reduced hours to ensure these rules can be enforced. 

However, these strict safety measures might be part of the reason gyms aren't seeing a return to form. With less people allowed on the gym floor and 24-hour gyms becoming a thing of the past, fewer people can actually make use of the facilities. 


(Image credit: Getty)

Gyms also have a unique place as social environments. A study from the University of Southern California, published in Athletics Business, found members socialising together increased exercise frequency and encouraged them to remain part of the club. Without this social element, gyms are losing members. 

A few months ago, when the gyms in the UK first reopened, one of our writers got the inside scoop by hitting a couple of London workout classes. While she reported reduced class sizes and social distancing in place, she felt very safe going back to the treadmills and weights benches. 

However, after months spent at home, we know some people are itching to get back. If you're going back to the gym, here's 16 new rules you'll need to follow

Whether you choose to venture back into the gym or stay home doing Youtube workouts, make sure you stay safe and follow all the necessary guidelines. 

Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.