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Feature Article - June 2016

Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs

A Look at Trends in Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs



According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), more than 180,000 clubs worldwide were home to 144.7 million members, earning $84 billion in revenue in 2014. The top market globally was the United States, where 54 million members belonged to a club, and revenues were $24.2 billion.

The ongoing strengthening of the health club market should come as no surprise. Americans rely on health clubs to connect them with fun and effective fitness offerings, from simple cardio workouts using treadmills, stationary bikes and elliptical trainers to circuit workouts with weights, group fitness, personal training and so much more.

Health club operators know that providing creative programming and innovative fitness opportunities is a key to successful business, which is all about attracting new members and retaining existing ones. And, fitness equipment manufacturers help serve this need by coming up with new ways to work out.

While the general survey population was most likely to be from the Midwest, health club respondents were largely located in the West and Northeast. Some 34.9 percent of health club respondents said they were located in the West, while 23.8 percent were in the Northeast. Smaller numbers were located in the Midwest (19 percent), South Atlantic region (12.7 percent) and South Central region (9.5 percent).

More than half (55.6 percent) of health club respondents said they were located in suburban communities. Another 27 percent were found in rural areas, and 17.5 percent were located in urban communities.

On average, health club respondents said they serve a population of 62,900 people. More than half (54.7 percent) of health club respondents said they reached a population of 20,000 or fewer people, compared with 46.4 percent of non-health-club respondents. At the same time, 14.1 percent of health club respondents said they reached a population of 100,000 or more people, compared with 19.6 percent of non-health-club respondents.

Health club respondents were most likely to be with private, for-profit facilities. Some 64.1 percent said they were for-profit. Another 20.3 percent reported from public organizations, and 15.6 percent said they worked for private, nonprofit organizations.

Respondents from health clubs managed an average of 2.3 facilities. They were far more likely than non-health-club respondents to report that they managed just a single facility. Some 76.6 percent of health club respondents manage only one facility, compared with 34.7 percent of non-health-club respondents.

Respondents from health clubs are among the least likely to report that they form partnerships with other organizations, though a majority do so. While 71.4 percent of health club respondents said they partner with outside organizations, 89.9 percent of non-health-club respondents form such partnerships. The most common partners for health club respondents include: corporate or local businesses (44.4 percent of health club respondents partner with them); local schools (33.3 percent); healthcare or medical facilities (27 percent); local government (23.8 percent); and colleges and universities (20.6 percent).

Health club respondents were much more likely than others to report that their primary audience was made up of adults age 19 to 64. Some 56.3 percent of health club respondents said they primarily reached adults, compared with 16.5 percent of non-health-club respondents. Health club respondents were also slightly more likely to serve seniors 65 and older, with 7.8 percent naming this as their main audience. This compares with just 2.6 percent of non-health-club respondents who said that seniors were their primary audience. The remainder of health club respondents said their primary audience was made up of children ages 4 to 12 (1.6 percent), college students (1.6 percent), or teens ages 13 to 18 (1.6 percent).

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