CWA Survey Shows Gyms on the Mend, but Still Need Your Support

CWA March Survey: delayed gym growth
As society recovers, climbing gyms have been too, but it’s an uphill journey after months of closures, restrictions and limited funding. (All images courtesy of the Climbing Wall Association)

[Editor’s Note: Since the publication of this article, Climbing Wall Association has added results for Canada gyms to the March survey dashboard. A summary of these results can be found here.]

Since last May, the Climbing Wall Association (CWA) has been conducting monthly reopening surveys to get a snapshot of the pandemic’s impacts on the industry in the US. According to CWA’s newsletter, “As society transitions from reopening to recovery, we’re transitioning our monthly reopening surveys to quarterly recovery surveys.” The results of the final reopening survey, for the period of March, show climbing gyms have indeed been on the mend stateside.

All but one of the 73 gyms responding to the survey are now open (99%), the highest percentage since the pandemic began. Economic hardship and expected revenue recovery also reached their most promising levels yet. 41 percent of the gyms estimate it will take less than one year to be back at their target revenue and membership numbers, and 66 percent of the gyms do not believe they are in danger of going out of business due to economic hardships around COVID-19. Overall, on a scale of one to five, 95 percent of the gyms rated their optimism about the future of their business three to five.

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Gyms are also employing more of their normal staff levels. 82 percent of the gyms are employing at least 50 percent of their full-time staff now, and 74 percent are employing at least 50 percent of their part-time staff. Their ability to do so is fueled in large part by the climbers who have continued their memberships through this period. Over one year into the pandemic, 96 percent of the gyms have retained at least 40 percent of their total membership, and 88 percent have retained at least 40 percent of their active membership.

However, US gyms still face a challenging road to recovery after months of closures and restrictions. Based on the March survey, 79 percent have had their growth plans delayed by the pandemic. And while 99 percent of the gyms are now open, ongoing capacity restrictions continue to be a limiting factor (34%). Reduced consumer demand has also been an ongoing issue. 47 percent of the gyms identified consumer demand as the biggest limiting factor to increasing revenue, the most since November. Yet zero percent of the gyms had any documented COVID-19 outbreaks at their facilities.

CWA March Survey: zero outbreaks
According to CWA, there were zero confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks in 2020, a trend which continued in March.

Last month, CWA launched its Inside Voices campaign to garner more support for climbing gyms. Part of that campaign included providing a toolkit to mobilize the climbing community around the GYMS Act. According to CWA’s website, “The GYMS Act will create a $30 billion fund to provide grants to impacted businesses included in the law,” such as climbing and other health or fitness facilities around the country. In particular, the CWA is encouraging everyone to email their local congress member and is providing a ready-made form to easily do so, which can be sent here.

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