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If there was an industry you didn’t want to be invested in during the worst of the Covid pandemic, it was the fitness business. Amid hard lockdowns that temporarily shuttered operations — and with fitness fans turning to outdoor exercise for fear of indoor contagion — closures, bankruptcies, job losses and plunging memberships at gyms became common. In the US alone, clubs and fitness studios lost about $15bn in 2020, according to the Global Health & Fitness Association.

The pandemic was almost enough to push an already teetering Virgin Active group over the edge...

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