Feature Article - June 2017
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Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs

A Look at Trends in Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs

According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), there were 36,180 health clubs in the United States as of Jan. 1, 2016, up 4.8 percent from 2015, and 55.3 million Americans belong to at least one of them. Total industry revenues in the United States grew 6.1 percent in 2015 to reach $25.8 billion, and more than 64 million Americans used a club at least once in 2015.

The health club market continues to evolve and grow, and it's no surprise, given that Americans rely on these spaces to connect them with effective and engaging fitness offerings, whether it happens on the cardio floor or in one of the group exercise studios. Equipment manufacturers continue to up their game, bringing innovative new ways to work out to the market, and health club operators continue to find new ways to engage members and boost fitness for all.

This section of the report will cover our health club respondents, which includes health clubs, sports clubs and fitness clubs, as well as medical fitness facilities. These respondents made up 4.4 percent of the survey population.

While the general survey population was more likely to be from the Midwest than from other regions, health club respondents were most heavily concentrated in the West. Some 26.7 percent of health club respondents said they were located in the West. They were followed by the Midwest (21.3 percent), the South Atlantic (18.7 percent), the South Central region (18.7 percent), and the Northeast (14.7 percent). No health club respondents were located outside of the United States.

More than half (54.7 percent) of health club respondents said they were located in suburban communities. Another 30.7 percent were from rural areas, and 14.7 percent were from urban communities.

On average, health club respondents said they serve a population of 63,200 people. A majority of health club respondents, 63.2 percent, said they reach a population of 20,000 or fewer people, compared with 46.7 percent of non-health-club respondents. Conversely, while 15.8 percent of health club respondents said they reach a population of 100,000 or more, 22.3 percent of non-health-club respondents reach a population of at least 100,000.

Health club respondents were most likely to report from private, for-profit organizations. Some 53.3 percent said they were for-profit. Another 26.7 percent worked for private, nonprofit organizations, and 20 percent said they were with public organizations.

Respondents from health clubs managed an average of 3.5 facilities. They were far more likely than non-health-club respondents to report that they managed a smaller number of facilities. Some 61.8 percent of health club respondents said they manage just a single facility, compared with 34.7 percent of non-health-club respondents. And while 26.3 percent of health club respondents manage two to three facilities, 23.5 percent of non-health-club respondents have two to three facilities to manage.

Health club respondents were among the least likely to report that they form partnerships with other organizations, though a majority do so. While 71.6 percent of health club respondents said they partner with outside organizations, 87.5 percent of non-health-club respondents do so. The most common partners for health club respondents include: local schools (39.2 percent of health club respondents partner with them), health care or medical facilities (36.5 percent), corporate or local businesses (31.1 percent), nonprofit organizations (23 percent), and colleges and universities (23 percent).

Respondents from health clubs were much more likely than others to report that their primary audience was made up of adults ages 19 to 64. Some 57.9 percent of health club respondents said this was their primary audience, compared with 15.3 percent of non-health-club respondents. Health club respondents were also more likely than others to serve seniors 65 and older, with 9.2 percent naming this as their primary audience. This compares with just 2.5 percent of non-health-club respondents. The remainder of health club respondents said their audience was all ages (27.6 percent), college students (3.9 percent) or teens ages 13 to 18 (1.3 percent).