Dutch fitness market collapsing

The Rabobank says that fitness centers in The Netherlands are looking at losses now that the consumer is more hesitant to spend money on luxury items. After years of explosive growth, half of the roughly 1,650 fitness centers in The Netherlands are in trouble, de Volkskrant reports. 

Small, independent and medium-size fitness centers have a hard time competing with the large chains and price busters. There is too much on offer. "In towns with six thousand residents, there are sometimes two fitness centers" says Philip Pijpers, director at Kentrium, an advice bureau for the fitness branch. "That is almost not justifiable anymore."

Pijpers expects that around 15 to 20 percent of the fitness centers will have to close their doors in the coming years. Most industry experts say that there is a kind of cleanse happening where the weaker businesses are falling after the branch boom back in the 90s.

Still, fitness is the biggest sport of The Netherlands, and not all fitness centers are making losses to the point of bankruptcy. The total yearly turnover of the branch is estimated at €1 billion. "The demand is stable" says Martijn Rol of the Rabobank. "With fitness there is always a good chance of earning a [good living], if you know how to set yourself apart."

Gyms offering discounts, long opening hours or special programs, as well as luxury wellness centers are doing the best. The middle segment and independent fitness centers are struggling.