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

Feature Story

May 2019


IHRSA: One in Five Americans Belong to at Least One Health Club

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IHRSA Briefing Looks at Club Employees vs. Contractors - August 2018

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By Chandler Garland

Later this year, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) will release the 2019 IHRSA Global Report, which provides an overview of the worldwide health club industry, and the 2019 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report. This annual publication provides health, sports and fitness demographics and participation data on America's health club consumers. Both reports provide trends, insights and applications for club operators to use in the coming year.

Most importantly, since IHRSA began tracking health club utilization in 1987, the reports have shown that health clubs are playing an increasing role in helping consumers stay active, lead healthier lives, and pursue fitness and sport goals. Based on a study conducted by IHRSA as part of the Physical Activity Council (PAC), around one out of five Americans (20.8 percent) belong to at least one U.S. health club or studio. Since 2008, membership has grown by 37.1 percent, while the total number of club-goers has increased by 34 percent.

The PAC is made up of six leading sports and manufacturer associations that are dedicated to growing participation in their respective sports and activities. During 2018, a total of 20,069 online interviews were carried out with a nationwide sample of individuals and households from the U.S. Online Panel of more than 1 million people, operated by IPSOS. The total panel is maintained to be representative of the U.S. population for people ages 6 and older. Oversampling of ethnic groups took place to boost responses from typically under-responding groups.

According to the data collected, the total number of health club visits has also increased, amounting to 6.1 billion visits in 2018, up from 4.3 billion in 2008. More than 71.5 million consumers utilized U.S. health clubs in 2018, a record high. The number of individual members totaled 62.5 million, which is an increase of 2.6 percent from 60.9 million individuals in 2017. Overall, the 2018 report showed that consumers frequented their health clubs for more than 6 billion visits.

"We're proud to highlight that the U.S. health club industry is increasingly serving the health, fitness and wellness needs of consumers," said Joe Moore, IHRSA president and CEO. "More than 62 million health club members use a club or studio for an average of 104 days a year, while 9 million non-member users attend a club or studio for an average of 24 days a year."

At 39,570, the number of health club facilities increased by 2.8 percent over the previous year, up from 38,477 locations. In 2018, U.S. health club industry revenue increased to $32.3 billion, up from $30 billion in 2017, a 7.8 percent increase.

"We are happy to report that along with consumer growth, the number of fitness facilities and total industry revenue increased in 2018," said Jay Ablondi, IHRSA's executive vice president of global products. "Consumers in the U.S. continue to place a high value on their health, investing in club access and services in order to meet their health and wellness needs as well as fitness and athletic goals."