Feature Article - June 2014
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A Look at Trends in Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs

Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs

According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), more than 62.1 million Americans used a health club in 2013 for more than 5 billion visits, making 2013 the first year that total health club visits surpassed the 5 billion mark. Based on the study, conducted by IHRSA as part of the Physical Activity Council, results show that 52.9 million Americans belonged to at least one of the 32,150 health clubs nationwide. With non-member health club patrons factored in, more than one in five Americans (21 percent) are health club members.

"The health club industry offers all kinds of fitness options for every budget," said Jay Ablondi, IHRSA's executive vice president of global products. "Among the many choices available are full-service centers providing a resort-like experience, family-friendly centers, small studios with expert trainers, convenient 24-hour gyms, women-only clubs and sport-specific facilities."

What's more, IHRSA found that in 2013, health club industry revenue in the United States increased to $22.4 billion, up from $21.8 billion in 2012.

"All metrics show an industry that is clearly growing and meeting the needs of consumers," said Melissa Rodriguez, senior research manager for IHRSA. "Total number of members, non-members, visits and revenue all reached historic highs in the United States."

Health club respondents to the survey were more evenly spread through the regions of the United States. The largest percentage, 24.1 percent, came from the West. They were closely followed by the Midwest, with 22.4 percent, and the South Central states, with 20.7 percent of health club respondents. Some 19 percent of health club respondents were from the South Atlantic and 12.1 percent were from the Northeast.

Health club respondents were most likely to be located in suburban communities, though the percentage in suburban areas fell from 2013. In 2013, 56.3 percent of health club respondents were in suburban communities, and in 2014, 45.6 percent reported in from the suburbs. Another 28.1 percent of health club respondents were from urban communities, and 26.3 percent were from rural areas.

Some 60.3 percent of health club respondents indicated that they worked for private, for-profit organizations. Another 27.6 percent said they worked for nonprofits, and 12.1 percent reported from public organizations.

On average, health club respondents manage 3.3 facilities, down from 4.6 in 2013. They were much more likely than others to report that they managed just a single facility. Some 68.4 percent of health club respondents managed just one facility, compared with 33.8 percent of non-health-club respondents.

Health club respondents were far less likely to report that they had formed partnerships with other organizations. While 84.1 percent of non-health-club respondents had formed such partnerships, just 73.7 percent of health club respondents had done so. Their most common partners were corporate or local businesses (47.4 percent of health club respondents partner with them); local schools (43.9 percent); nonprofit organizations (31.6 percent); health care or medical facilities (29.8 percent); and colleges and universities (22.8 percent).

When it comes to the primary audience for their main facility, health club respondents are much more likely than others to report that they serve an audience of adults ages 19 and up. While 16.3 percent of non-health-club respondents said adults were their main audience, 70.7 percent of health club respondents said they primarily serve adults. Another 22.4 percent said they served all ages. And 3.4 percent served seniors as their primary audience.