More Americans Working Out Than Ever

Americans are committed to fitness, according to a new report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA). The 2023 Tracking the Fitness Movement Report features an in-depth analysis of workout trends, participation habits and purchasing behaviors in the fitness industry. The new report provides a detailed analysis of total and CORE participation rates for more than 20 fitness activities, as well as a deep dive into age cohorts, cross-activity trends, aspirations to do different activities and “home vs. club” insights.

From the 30,000-foot view, the news around Americans’ interest and commitment to fitness activity is good. Participation in fitness activities has grown an impressive 5.3%, or by 10.4 million people, since 2017. The number of total fitness participants rose by 800,000 year-over-year in 2022 to 205.8 million, allowing the country’s fitness participation rate to hit a high-water mark of 67.4%, surpassing the 67.3% rate met in both 2019 and 2021.

Americans in 2022 generally continued with fitness routines taken up during the pandemic such as Walking for Fitness, but also showed indications of returning to a greater variety of workout exercises. After a slight decline in 2021, 155.5 million people participated in a Running/Walking activity in 2022 – the highest level the activity has ever seen, surpassing the 154.7 million people who participated in 2020.

Traditional club workouts on equipment such as stationary bikes, ellipticals and stair-climbing machines, which experienced pandemic-influenced double-digit declines in participation over the past three years, showed improvement in 2022, contributing to the slow, steady recovery in the health club business. However, no consistent hot trend emerged among the top 15 aerobic fitness activities in 2022. The resilient treadmill segment was essentially flat in participants year-over-year, but up 3.8 million from its 2020 low-water mark. The fitness activities with the largest one-year participation growth rates on a percentage basis were Cardio Kickboxing (up 8.5%), Pilates Training (up 5.8%) and Group Stationary Cycling (up 5.5%).

“The good news is Americans continue to recognize and embrace the benefits of regular physical activity,” said Tom Cove, president & CEO, SFIA. “Whether it is walking, yoga, strength training, group classes or even pickleball, there is a sustaining demand to exercise. On the other hand, we see a lingering impact on the fitness industry, as many clubs were forced to close their doors for good and memberships are not quite back to pre-pandemic levels.

“We believe the health club industry is poised for future growth, given the role that clubs can play in providing an interesting variety of things to do, innovative fitness concepts, social connections and overall high-quality fitness experiences,” Cove added.