Feature Article - June 2013
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Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs

A Look at Trends in Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs

According to the most recent report from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), U.S. health club industry revenue reached $21.8 billion in 2012, with more than 58 million Americans using a health club. The total number of health clubs in the United States, according to the 2013 IHRSA Global Report, rose from 29,960 in 2011 to 30,500 in 2012.

"Every day, the vibrant health club industry helps consumers achieve their health and fitness goals," said Joe Moore, president and CEO of IHRSA. "In addition to providing access to a vast array of quality health club facilities and programs, health and fitness professionals provide additional services such as personal training, nutritional counseling, spa, and other wellness offerings in order to meet the fitness needs of members and non-members alike."

Health clubs were represented by about 3 percent of respondents to the Industry Report survey. The largest number of these-30.2 percent-were located in the Midwest. They were followed by respondents from the West (25.4 percent), Northeast (19 percent), South Atlantic (15.9 percent) and South Central (9.5 percent) regions.

Health club respondents were most likely to be located in suburban communities. More than half (56.3 percent) indicated they were located in the suburbs. Another 23.4 percent were found in urban communities, and 20.3 percent were located in rural areas.

More than two-thirds of health club respondents indicated that they worked for private for-profit facilities, compared with 8.3 percent of non-health-club respondents. Another 19.4 percent of health club respondents claimed to work for public organizations, and 12.9 percent said they worked with private nonprofit organizations.

Health club respondents manage 4.6 facilities, on average, and were the most likely respondents to indicate that they manage just one facility. Some 68.8 percent of health club respondents manage just one facility, compared with 35.8 percent of non-health-club facilities.

Health club respondents were far less likely than other respondents to report that they had formed partnerships with outside organizations. Some 63.5 percent of health clubs said they had formed partnerships, compared with 85.9 percent of non-health-club facilities. The most common partners for health clubs include: corporate or local businesses (39.7 percent of health club respondents partner with these types of organizations); local schools (31.7 percent); and health care facilities (25.4 percent).

When it comes to the primary audience served by their facilities, health club respondents differ from the general survey population, where facilities are designed for all ages, for the most part. In the case of health clubs, adults age 19 to 64 are the primary audience, with 74.6 percent of health clubs indicating that this is their primary audience. Adults represent the primary audience for just 16.3 percent of non-health-club respondents, by comparison. Among health club respondents, another 17.5 percent serve all ages, and 7.9 percent said their main facility is aimed at a senior audience.

Revenues & Expenditures

Nearly half of health club respondents (49.2 percent) said that their revenues had increased from 2011 to 2012, while 19.7 percent reported a drop in revenues for that year. Looking ahead, though, health club respondents are among those with the most optimistic outlook. More than three-quarters (77.4 percent) said they expect revenues to increase from 2012 to 2013, and more than two-thirds (68.3 percent) expect revenues to increase from 2013 to 2014. (See Figure 50.)

Like most respondents, those from health clubs reported a decrease in their operating expenditures from fiscal 2011 to fiscal 2012. Health club respondents reported a decrease of 2.8 percent in that time period, more modest than the 6.2 percent decrease seen among all facility types. Looking ahead, health club respondents project that their expenses will increase by 2.8 percent in fiscal 2013, and by 6.9 percent in fiscal 2014. Overall, this would represent a 6.8 percent increase from fiscal 2011 to 2014 for health clubs, compared with a 2.4 percent decrease among the overall survey population in that same time period.

Respondents from health clubs were slightly more likely than all respondents combined to indicate that they had taken actions to reduce their expenditures. While 86.3 percent of all respondents had done so, 90.5 percent of health club respondents had done so. The most common actions taken for health clubs include: improving energy efficiency (57.1 percent), increasing fees (44.4 percent) and putting construction plans on hold (38.1 percent). One-third (33.3 percent) also said they had reduced staff. Obviously, health clubs were much less likely to indicate that they had cut programs or services, reduced their hours or closed facilities.