2020 was an unprecedented year that changed the course of history and the trajectory for businesses in every industry across the globe. Everyone had to learn to adapt to constant change, react to unexpected challenges, and continue moving forward into a largely unknown future. The nonprofit, health, and fitness industries were no different.

With a mission to improve the overall health and wellness of their communities, the nonprofit fitness industry found itself in a unique position to help individuals severely impacted by COVID-19. They stepped up to the plate to provide meals to families in need, administer COVID-19 tests and vaccines, and offer childcare to the children of essential workers. When state restrictions prevented gyms and fitness facilities from opening to the public, nonprofit fitness organizations didn’t throw in the towel and lock up their doors. Instead, they transformed their spaces to serve their communities as virtual learning centers, resource hubs, and more.

As we move into the second half of 2021 and see continued recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to recognize what trends will affect the market and how each of them came to be. In the following sections, we’ll give a short overview of the nonprofit fitness landscape in 2020, then discuss how that background has informed four major fitness industry trends that will define the market in the coming year.  

Insights x Impact

When COVID-19 first hit, your team needed access to trusted data to help you make quick and informed decisions. Powered by Performance Analytics, the Insights and Impact report was launched in order to provide regular trends for revenue, check-ins, active membership, and registrations across the Movement.  

When measuring total revenue data for the year, membership revenue was hit the hardest due to mandatory facility closures. Childcare revenue on the other hand skyrocketed, becoming the second highest contributor to overall revenue. In all, by early April of this year, revenue was at 83% of what it was this time in 2019.  

Check-ins in 2020 saw a sharp drop from March to April at the beginning of the pandemic as businesses systematically shut down, then slowly but steadily increased throughout the summer. After a plateau in late summer, they continued a slow incline, then dropped again from October through December as COVID-19 cases ticked up around the holidays. For most revenue size groups, check-ins climbed in the first quarter of 2021 as the vaccine became available to more and more Americans.  

Active membership units took a big hit in 2020 as a result of a combination of diminishing new joins, heightened holds, and erratic terminations caused by the pandemic. In general, smaller facilities fared better than larger ones, and membership was at 62% back to normal as of April 2021.  

For further insight into our Insights x Impact Report, check out the 2020 overview or this special episode of our Accelerant podcast where Director of Business Intelligence and Analytics at Daxko, Constance Miller, shares deeper insight.

Fitness Industry Trends

There’s no denying that public sentiment shifted quite a bit over the course of the last year. The global culture collectively changed as the majority of the world population was forced to think about things like virus transmission and social distancing for the first time. As such, new values and concerns also emerged. A study conducted by the American Psychological Association called "Stress in America 2020: A National Mental Health Crisis" detailed some of the biggest issues facing Americans as a result of the mental, physical, and social disruption that 2020 brought. According to the study, Americans are increasingly concerned with three main topics: safety, health, and community.


  • 58% of Americans are seriously concerned with personal safety (an 18% year-over-year increase).
  • Among their concerns, bankcard fraud and identity theft are the highest.
  • Additionally, 63% of Americans are seriously concerned with epidemics and natural disasters.  


  • 61% of Americans gained or lost more weight than they wanted over the last year
  • 67% are seriously concerned about their families’ health
  • 78% have experienced significant stress in the last year


  • 59% of Americans are increasingly worried about violence toward minorities
  • 36% of Americans report serious loneliness and  
  • 61% of Americans age 18-25 report serious loneliness
  • 71% say this is the lowest point in the nation’s history that they can remember

On a brighter note, the study also reports that 71% of Americans feel hopeful about their future, and 54% feel they can use their voice to make a positive difference.

So, what does all this mean? It means that while there are several issues and concerns plaguing Americans, they also have hope that someone or something will make it better. That’s where your organization comes in. With a more holistic understanding of your community’s core needs, you’ll be better equipped to innovate new ways your organization can meet those needs.  

Each of these three areas represents a specific desire of the community. Nonprofit fitness organizations are uniquely qualified to provide the perfect combination of all three.  

On the safety front, nonprofit fitness organizations are a huge source of relief and support for one of the community’s biggest concerns, epidemics and natural disasters. All across the country, YMCAs, JCCs, and community centers are putting the safety of their members first by enacting new safety and sanitization protocols and implementing contactless experiences and processes. With bankcard fraud and identify theft also at the top of the concern list for individuals, nonprofit organizations can benefit from a reliable payment processing partner like Gains to ensure full PCI compliance and the ultimate safeguarding of sensitive member payment and personal information.  

Nonprofit fitness organizations have always had the mission to improve the health of their community members. With the information that 67% of Americans are seriously concerned about the health of their family members, putting a greater emphasis on providing fitness opportunities for all ages will be increasingly important. Expanding group fitness class offerings, programs, and personal training to suit the interests and fitness levels of a diverse audience is key. Additionally, with 78% of Americans reporting experiencing significant stress in the last year, a positive stress relief outlet, like working out, is more needed than ever. You may even consider increasing programming around mindfulness and meditation to further promote a feeling of calm and peace among your members.  

When it comes to community, no one does it better than the nonprofit fitness industry. Creating a safe, inclusive, and uplifting space requires effort and intention. Communicating your values to the public is essential to attracting diverse members to join and contribute to the community you’re building. With many individuals suffering from a period of isolation caused by the pandemic, now is the time to reach out and welcome them into your community. With help from Daxko for prospecting texts and emails, as well as digital marketing and website assistance, you can share your organization’s community with the estimated 14 million people looking for a fitness facility to call home.  

While it’s great to understand the trends impacting the fitness industry, turning knowledge into action that better serves your members and future members is even more important. Thrive Solutions Package work by translating each of these trends into recommendations that turn insight into action. These include tools for creating contactless experiences, increasing new members, raising more fundraising dollars, and winning back lost members. To learn more about how Daxko can help you make the most of each of these trends at your nonprofit fitness organization, download our Thrive Solutions Package.

Data Sources

2021 IHRSA Media Report

Stress in America™ 2020: A National Mental Health Crisis

Loneliness in America: How the Pandemic has Deepened an Epidemic of Loneliness and What We Can Do About It

The Growth of Contactless Payments During the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Unisys Security Index Report 2020

US Financial Health Pulse: 2020 Trends Report

Dig into the data and view the latest trends!

As you fight for your communities, Daxko is fighting for you. Visit the latest Insights and Impact Report, view the trends across markets, interact with the YMCAs, JCCs, and Community Centers data, and even download a PDF to take with you.

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