Guest Column - February 2005
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Top Trends in Fitness Programming

Which programs are most popular at fitness facilities?

By Kathie Davis

To run a successful facility and retain clients, you need to offer programs that meet their needs. You can help your clients get healthy and fit—and make a profit for your business—by understanding what people want.

IDEA, one of the world's leading membership organizations of health and fitness professionals, conducts fitness programs and equipment surveys to help members pinpoint what clients like. Here are some of the statistics from the 2004 IDEA Fitness Programs & Equipment Survey, the ninth annual survey. (See the various charts in the article for survey data and the text for comments on trends.) Think about how the results compare to what's popular at your recreation, sports or fitness facility and use them for food for thought for future programming.


How was the survey conducted? IDEA business and program director members who gave permission to use their e-mail addresses were sent three e-mail invitations to link to a Web-based survey in April 2004. The 281 respondents represent the Northeast (21%), North central (51%), South (19%) and West (32%) in the United States and Canada, with 38% in small cities or towns, 32% in suburbs and 26% in large cities.

Businesses that participated in the survey included multipurpose health clubs, personal-training gyms, fitness-only health clubs, YMCAs/YWCAs/JCCs, colleges/universities, corporate fitness centers, hospital fitness centers, yoga or Pilates studios, group-exercise studios, parks or recreation programs, no facility, satellite classes held in satellite locations (no facility), personal training in clients' homes, and other.

Respondents were 47% owners, 8% general managers, 16% fitness directors, 10% program directors, 3% personal training directors and 9% group fitness directors/coordinators. The rest of the respondents had a variety of titles.

Under 300 members/clients 41%
300 to 1,499 members/clients 22%
1,500 to 3,499 members/clients 10%
3,500 and above members/clients 20%