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Report Shows A Decade of Growth for Health Clubs, Gyms, & Studios

SOURCE: International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA)

The 2020 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report analyzes the health club industry’s decade of growth as well as challenges and opportunities post-pandemic. The report provides data on American health club users, including demographics, behavior, and fitness activity participation.

BOSTON, MA—December 17, 2020—The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) has released the 2020 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report. This year’s report, sponsored by ClubReady, discusses health club member growth and trends over the past decade, along with the impact of the pandemic on fitness consumers.

Based on a nationwide sample of more than 18,000 interviews, IHRSA’s annual Health Club Consumer Report provides data on America’s health club consumers, including demographics, behavior, and fitness activity participation.

Throughout the past decade, consumers have increasingly utilized fitness facilities to meet their physical activity and overall health goals. From 2010 to 2019, the number of times Americans used a health club rose by an impressive 45%from 4.6 billion visits to 6.7 billion respectively. In all, over 73.6 million Americans—ages 6 and older—used a health club in 2019, up 27% from 2010. Roughly one out of four Americans ages used a health club, gym, or studio in 2019.

The report shows health club consumption was growing at a steady rate heading into 2020, only to run into an unprecedented pandemic that shut down most parts of the economy. Findings analyze historical trends and the industry outlook moving forward, including:

  • Health club membership and usage trends indicate sustainable growth over the long-term. Over the decade, the average annual growth rate for health club members and total users amounted to 2.5% and 2.7%, respectively. Although these results are characteristic of a mature industry, modest increases indicate sustainable growth over the long-term. While not recession-proof, the health and fitness industry has historically been resilient during downturns. As the economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, it will test the industry’s resiliency.
  • The health club industry offers multiple options for any consumer’s goals, preferences, and budget. While growth varied across segments and business models, most categories posted membership growth over the 2010s, showing a facility offering for any consumer. Multi-facility memberships peaked in 2019 when nearly one out of four members belonged to more than one fitness facility. Multi-facility membership trends indicate the viability of a wide array of fitness options, including storefront and digital, co-existing, thriving, and likely working together, in the same marketplace.
  • The growth of boutique studios, specialized programs at traditional health clubs, and connected fitness equipment have impacted popular equipment and activities. From 2018 to 2019, the cardio equipment that posted the most significant growth were treadmills (+7%), group cycles (+6.9%), and rowers (+5.5%). Rowers, group cycles, and treadmills are featured often at niche facilities—either boutique studios or studio-like boxes within traditional health clubs. All three cardio equipment tools are also available as connected fitness equipment. HIIT closed out the decade as the most popular conditioning activity at health clubs, while yoga remained the number one mind-body discipline.
  • Demand for fitness showed strong growth before COVID-19, especially during pandemic-induced closures. Heading into 2020, record numbers for health club usage in 2019 showed the high priority Americans placed on health and fitness. While fitness facility access was unavailable for weeks, if not months in most states, consumers invested in in-home fitness. Data from The NPD Group showed that fitness equipment sales were boosted by more than 130% at the peak of shutdowns. Treadmills, cycles, and rowers, all of which are available as connected fitness equipment, led the category in sales.
  • Avid fitness consumers and Millennials want a fitness experience focused on popular health club attractions. Although Millennials have one of the shortest membership tenures, they are avid fitness consumers and pay a premium for fitness. They are also more likely to use more than one facility than any other generational group. “In the new normal, it’s critical to offer digital content for Millennials,” said Melissa Rodriguez, IHRSA’s senior research manager. “Booking classes or gym floor reservations on their smartphone, streaming live workouts, and accessing on-demand training sessions are must-haves for this generation.”

The 2020 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report’s findings are from an analysis of online interviews with a nationwide sample of individuals and households in 2019. This publication is available in PDF format at $59.95 for IHRSA members and $139.95 for non-members.

About IHRSA

IHRSA, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, is a not-for-profit trade association representing the global fitness industry of over 200,000 health and fitness facilities and their suppliers.

IHRSA maintains a leadership role in advancing physical activity, which is critical to peak health and the battle against obesity and chronic lifestyle disease. As one of the world's leading authorities on the commercial health club industry, IHRSA’s mission is to grow, promote, and protect the health and fitness industry, while providing its members with benefits and resources. IHRSA and its members are devoted to making the world happier, healthier, and more prosperous through regular exercise and activity promotion.

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