Feature Article - June 2008
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Join the Club

A Look at Trends in Health, Fitness and Sports Clubs

For last year's survey, we took a combined look at health and fitness clubs alongside YMCAs, YWCAs and JCCs. However, because of the vast differences in these facilities' modes of operation—with YMCAs and their ilk being managed as private nonprofit organizations and with health clubs operating largely on a for-profit basis, we have separated the data this year to consider the two types of facilities separately. The separate data reveal a much more conservative mode of operating—with lower operating expenditures, more conservative estimates of growth and more cautious growth plans—among health, fitness and sports clubs than among YMCAs.

About the Respondents

More than 13 percent of respondents to the survey overall represented health, fitness and sports clubs, racquet or tennis clubs, or corporate-run or privately run recreation and sports centers. This section narrows that list down further to the health, fitness and sports clubs and privately run centers.

The majority (60.6 percent) of health and fitness clubs covered by our survey were located in suburban communities. Far fewer respondents came from either urban or rural facilities, each represented by just under 20 percent of responses.

Health, fitness and sports clubs generally represent a wide range of operating modes, from single facilities owned by a private local citizen to franchise operations spread across entire regions or, indeed, the entire country.

More than half (55.1 percent) of our health and fitness club respondents indicated that they manage or operate just one facility, and just over three-quarters (76 percent) operate three or fewer facilities. Only 12.4 percent in this category indicated that they operate 10 or more facilities.

While many health club respondents (79.4 percent) indicated that they do partner with other external organizations, they were the least likely to be named as a partner by all types of facilities. The most common partners for health clubs included local schools, nonprofit organizations and corporate entities or local businesses. More than 40 percent of health club respondents indicated that they partnered with these types of organizations.