Recreation Management - Ideas and Solutions for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

October 2017


Health Club Memberships Up, Led by Youth & Older Adults

Recent Rec Report Feature Stories

Dallas Park Recognized With ASLA Award - October 2017

Adult Obesity Rates Leveling Off - October 2017

Improving Kids' Wellness—In the Classroom - October 2017

Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway Development Continues - September 2017

Louisville Splash 'n' Dash 5K Raises $35,000+ for Norton Children's Hospital - September 2017

Philadelphia Eagles Go Green - September 2017

High School Sports Participation Up, Nearing 8 Million - September 2017

Inside South Side High School's Redevelopment - August 2017

New Health Research Conducted at Special Olympics - August 2017

Protect Players From Heat - August 2017

Tackling the Active Play Deficit - August 2017

Botanical Garden Partners With Businesses on Health - July 2017

Survey Examines Parents' View of Play - July 2017

Kids Swim Free in Tucson This Summer - July 2017

Building Communities to Encourage Physical Activity - June 2017

California Campus Converts Courts to Golf Practice Space - June 2017

Where Are the Nation's Top City Park Systems? - June 2017

KaBOOM! Brings Play to Military Kids - May 2017

USA Basketball Open Court Sessions Get Youths Into the Game - May 2017

Educators Push Legislators to Support Health & Physical Education Programs - May 2017

NFHS Revises Rules for Competitive Spirit Squads - May 2017

Pool & Spa Professionals Fight Immigration Restrictions - April 2017

Grants Available to Boost Dog Parks - April 2017

New Aquatic Management Program Aims to Improve Safety, Efficiency - April 2017

16 Cities Nationwide to Receive Park Improvement Funding - April 2017

Study Confirms: People Pee in Pools - March 2017

Volunteers Get Hands-On History Experience in Virginia - March 2017

Park Hop Inspires Park Usage - March 2017

National Health Campaign Reaches 228,000 Youth in Three Years - March 2017

Outdoor REC Act Signed Into Law - February 2017

Happy 125th B-Day B-Ball! - February 2017

Study Shows Majority—Even Athletes—Are 'Overfat' - February 2017

Gym-Goers Like YMCA Best; Planet Fitness Winning Market Share - February 2017

Georgia State Park Celebrates Its Dark Sky Status - January 2017

Texas Tech Focuses on Functional Fitness - January 2017

Preventing Pool Closings - January 2017

Majority of U.S. Households Visit Attractions - January 2017

City of Henderson Awarded for Water Safety Programs - December 2016

Grant Brings Outdoor Fitness Area to Park - December 2016

Alliance Recommends Actions to Improve Kids' Activity Stats - December 2016

Retractable Enclosures Help YMCAs Cut Costs, Boost Membership - November 2016

Huge Project Seeks to Rebuild Monarch Habitats - November 2016

Report: Camping More Popular Than Ever - November 2016

ACSM Predicts 2017 Fitness Trends - November 2016

CDC: More Than One-Quarter of 50-Plus U.S. Adults Don't Exercise - October 2016

Park District Recognized for Collaboration Efforts - October 2016

Americans Support Increased Local Funding for Parks & Rec - October 2016

High School Sports Participation Up for 27th Consecutive Year - October 2016

National Park Service Celebrates 100 Years of Successful Partnerships - October 2016

By Dave Ramont

It seems we hear a lot these days about how Americans are leading more sedentary lifestyles, with childhood obesity and early-onset diabetes rates on the rise. Therefore it's encouraging to learn that health club memberships have increased, with the largest growth happening in the youth and older adult markets. This information comes from the 2017 Health Club Consumer Report, released by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).

The report presents data on fitness, health and sports participation by consumers of health clubs in America. A nationwide sample of more than 24,000 interviews provided the basis for the annual publication. Jay Ablondi, executive vice president of global products for the IHRSA, said that membership in U.S. health clubs reached an all-time high in 2016 of 57.3 million, which is up 3.6 percent from 2015. "Another 9.3 million non-members exercised at clubs. In all, 22 percent of Americans use a health club to pursue fitness and wellness goals," according to Ablondi.

The report suggests that, when it comes to people leading more active lives and pursuing their fitness goals, health clubs play an active role. Melissa Rodriguez, IHRSA's senior research manager, tells us that nearly one out of four health club members are 55 and older, and membership among baby boomers and those born between 1925 and 1942 has increased by 5 percent since 2012. "The report provides insights and applications on how clubs can engage older generations, as well as other segments. For example, club operators who aim to target older generations should not only offer relevant exercise programs, but also provide stellar in-person customer service and foster ongoing interactions with club staff," Rodriguez said.

The report aims to assist club operators in not only taking advantage of demographic trends, but in reaching underrepresented groups as well. Although health clubs are used by one out of five Americans, 27 percent of Americans do not partake in physical activity. And 2016 had higher rates of participation by youths compared to previous years, making that market more desirable to clubs as well.

The 2017 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report is broken up into eight chapters, which cover the following subjects: Overview of Health Club Participation; Health Club Member Attendance & Tenure; Health Club Member Fees; and Health Club Member Demographics, which examines how age, gender, income, ethnicity and education influence the health club industry. Other chapters include Health Club Member Activity Participation; Personal & Small Group Training Users; and How to Apply Consumer Research. And a new chapter this year is titled Special Report: Core Consumers, which looks at multi-club members and those who use clubs at least 100 days per year. Also new this year is an appendix titled Ten Key Findings & Infographic Insights, which summarizes key data points of the report.

The publication is available for purchase through the IHRSA, whose mission is to grow, promote and protect the health and fitness industry.