Fitness clubs like New York City’s Apex Human Performance that offer virtual options and emphasize privacy, cleanliness and comfort for those who visit in person are uniquely positioned to meet the challenges and opportunities such facilities face in a post-pandemic world.
“The pandemic highlighted the importance of what we fundamentally do — which is to help its members control what they can,” says Andrew Malkiel, owner of Apex Human Performance and a nutritionist and strength and conditioning coach with over seven years of experience in exercise science, sports nutrition, fat loss, and competitive bodybuilding. “We have little control over how long we live. But we have tremendous control over how we feel, move, perform, and think during the time we are here.”
Health and fitness clubs across the country have been struggling since March 2020. Most of them shut down for a long period of time due to COVID-19. More than 38,000 gyms in the United States have gone out of business since May 2020. Some of the facilities that survived the shutdown and were able to reopen their doors are still only operating at partial capacity.
The good news is people who were stuck at home during COVID-19 lockdowns became more aware of the need to keep their bodies and minds healthy. One in five American consumers feel wellness is more important than ever, and 25% have increased the time they spend exercising, according to Mindbody.
When gyms closed during the initial months of the pandemic more people began working out at home with the help of online fitness content. According to Forbes, 35% of consumers are now using virtual exercise options compared to 20% before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis.
This means health and fitness companies that offer virtual services have a great opportunity for growth. Four out of 10 consumers are paying for virtual workouts at businesses they’ve never physically visited.
Even before the pandemic, Apex Human Performance members offered virtual services anywhere in the world through video conferencing because its members often maintain multiple residencies and travel frequently. The company even outfitted members’ home gyms so they can get the best possible workout from the privacy and comfort of their home or apartment.
Although some people, especially women and older consumers, are reluctant to return to health clubs and gyms as the Delta variant continues to spread, and may opt to continue working out at home even after COVID-19 dissipates, 78% of consumers prefer in-person fitness options because they like having a sense of social connection and believe they will be more accountable this way.
Over the past year, 61% of those who use digital fitness options have also been members of a gym. These consumers tend to live in urban areas. They also have higher incomes and busy lifestyles.
This means Apex Human Performance is in an ideal position to attract new members as its current ones fit the profile of those who belong to a gym and participate in virtual fitness. The company serves clientele who are seeking a team of professionals who can make health and fitness decisions for and with them, leaving them more time for their careers, hobbies and personal lives.
“Apex Human Performance prides itself on being the most exclusive gym in Manhattan. We’re not a ‘see and be seen’ fad studio,” says Malkiel, “in fact, we hardly maintain a social media presence. Our members value their privacy while working on their health. I’m excited to continue to grow our club with like-minded individuals focused on self-improvement.”
Although consumers are slowly returning to health clubs and fitness centers, they have different expectations than they did before the pandemic.
Nearly 60% percent of consumers feel more comfortable returning to boutique fitness studios like Apex Human Performance as opposed to only 25% who prefer going back to large, multi-plex facilities.
Cleanliness is a top priority for more than 90% of consumers who are considering going back to the gym, according to Mindbody.
Apex Human Performance’s NYC club is private, so it is regularly deep cleaned more than three hours a day with hospital-grade disinfectant.
Other important factors consumers consider when deciding whether to return to fitness centers and health clubs are whether the facility reduces the number of clients allowed inside at any one time and if the layout allows for adequate social distancing.
Privacy and safety are priorities at the Apex Human Performance Club, which is located on an entire floor at 940 Third Avenue in Manhattan. Overall, there’s usually no more than five to six people in the club at any one time.
Although members do not have to make an appointment to visit the club and work out on their own, they are required to schedule person training sessions with a coach ahead of time. If there are two training sessions happening at once, they are spread out throughout the club to give members space.
Non-member visits, including tours, are not allowed without scheduling ahead of time.
All current Apex Human Performance members and staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19. The entire staff as well as the clients wore face masks at the club until the mask mandate in New York City was lifted. Masks are now optional.
Besides working off the extra pounds gained during the pandemic, improving their mental well-being may be another reason people are ready to return to the gym.
Nearly half of those surveyed by Mindbody report their mental wellness has decreased since the onset of COVID-19. This can lead to serious consequences, including depression, anxiety and insomnia.
Exercise is known to improve mental health by decreasing stress, boosting one’s mood and improving sleep.
Greater attention to self-care is another common recommendation for improving wellness. Self-care means making a conscious effort to promote one’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Those who are considering returning to or joining health clubs for the first time may be looking for a little pampering to lift their spirits.
Apex Human Performance’s NYC Club is designed to provide comfort and tranquility to its customers. The loft-style layout lets the sunlight in. Luxurious touches include a French Oak reception floor and concierge-level services.
Clients bring in their workout clothes and toiletries to be stored at the club. After a concierge team member greets them at the front door and hands them these items – as well as cold Fiji water and a towel – clients head to the individual washrooms to change and prepare for their visit.
Following their workout or training session, clients return to the washrooms. These spaces include oversized glass showers with rain-heads, plush bath towels and Bliss bath products.
After each session, a laundry service picks up the workout clothes, washes and folds them, and returns them to the club so they will be ready for the client’s next session.
Apex Human Performance clients tend to spend their workdays using critical thinking skills and making decisions, so the company is devoted to removing that stress from them when it comes to managing their health.
The business is unique among health clubs because it employs an integrated, collaborative team approach that addresses nutrition as well as exercise.
Apex Human Performance also provides peace of mind to members by employing the highest standards for its staff.
The company’s clients are aware of the fitness industry’s lack of quality standards. They know most single person trainer certification requires no formal education in exercise science, anatomy or physiology.
At Apex Human Performance, all personal trainers must have a master’s degree or doctorate in exercise science. Clients can also rest assured that their nutritional needs are being entrusted to those with knowledge of metabolism and biochemistry because the staff nutritionists are required to have a master’s degree in their field. Apex Human Performance utilizes a hyper-personalized approach to nutrition based upon clinical grade testing, including body composition analysis, resting metabolic rate, and blood biomarker analysis.
Like many other aspects of life, fitness isn’t likely to go back to the “old normal” following the pandemic. Instead, there will be a new normal that includes virtual options and modified in-person practices. Businesses such as Apex Human Performance have a unique advantage because they were already offering what today’s fitness consumers want before COVID-19 disrupted everyone’s lives.