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Feature Story

September 2015


Leading Fitness Associations Study Fitness Industry Trends

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The American Council on Exercise (ACE), the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) and ClubIntel released the inaugural International Fitness Industry Trend Report, titled "What's All the Rage?" This study explored the offerings of fitness professionals and gym operators around the world, and quantifies the data to reflect growth in trends over the past two years.

With the collective goal of shedding light on what equipment, programs, services and technology the fitness industry is adopting and how these adoption rates are changing over time, ACE, IHRSA and ClubIntel gathered behavioral data from a broad spectrum of industry professionals and business segments around the globe—representing more than 11,000 health and fitness businesses. The study explores more than 90 industry trends across three broad categories—programs, services and training protocols; equipment and facilities; and technology—and determines if they are emerging, niche, growing, maturing or declining.

"This is a first-of-its-kind report to measure the behavior outcomes across the entire industry, which gives fitness professionals around the world a better understanding of what their peers offer, what's in demand and what's projected for growth," said ACE President and CEO Scott Goudeseune. "Having access to data of this caliber can help professionals to better understand the opportunities that exist within the industry and assist them in developing a competitive business strategy to grow their businesses."

Key findings from the report include:

  • Personal training has the highest adoption rate of any program or service in the fitness industry.
  • Traditional functional fitness equipment and accessories (medicine balls, BOSU, stability balls) and flexibility/mobility equipment (foam rollers, stretch trainers and myofascial release devices) proved to be today's hottest equipment.
  • Boot-camp training, small-group training, HIIT group exercise classes and functional resistance training have all achieved a high level of adoption and continue to show above-average growth.
  • Social media is the only well-adopted technology trend. The industry has yet to fully embrace technology as a means to enhance the member/client experience and improve productivity and efficiency. Technology opportunities such as online pricing transparency, online registration and reservations for programs, selling memberships online, virtual training and club mobile applications all have opportunity to gain significantly greater adoption with the industry.
  • Senior fitness programs are among the top 10 most frequently adopted industry trends.
  • Treadmills and elliptical trainers have experienced resurgence in growth in the past two years.

Notably, a significant majority of the trends across all three categories fell into either the emerging or niche categories.

"The fact that many of these trends are either emerging or niche means one of three things," said Stephen Tharrett on behalf of the partners at ClubIntel. "First, it could mean these trends are just now catching the attention of the industry and therefore hold great potential for growth. Second, they may truly be niche offerings destined to have low levels of industry adoption. Finally, they might be fads that quickly emerged and are destined to fade nearly as quickly in the years to come. Over the next couple of years we will have a better idea in which direction these emerging and niche trends will move.

The data in the report is segmented by global region, business model and scope or size of the enterprise. For a free overview of the study findings, visit www.ihrsa.org/research and download the executive summary.