Feature Article - June 2020
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Trends in Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs

A Look at Trends in Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs


In this section, we'll take a closer look at trends reported by health club respondents, which includes health clubs, sports clubs, fitness clubs and medical fitness facilities. These respondents made up 2.8% of the survey population in 2020.

Respondents from health clubs were fairly spread out across the country, with nearly one-quarter (24.3%) reporting from the Western region. More than one-fifth were from the Northeast (21.6%), and the same number (21.6%) were from the Midwest. Fewer health club respondents were located in either the South Atlantic (18.9%) and South Central (13.5%) regions.

Respondents from health clubs were most likely to be located in suburban communities. More than four in 10 (45.9%) said they were in the suburbs. Another 29.7% were located in urban communities, and 24.3% were found in rural areas.

On average, health club respondents said they reach a population of 42,970 people. Nearly six in 10 (59.5%) health club respondents said they reach a population of 20,000 or fewer, compared with 43.4% of non-health-club respondents. On the other end of the spectrum, 18.9% of health club respondents reach a population of 100,000 or more, compared with 23.9% of non-health-club respondents.

More than half (51.4%) of health club respondents said they were with private, for-profit organizations. Nearly another quarter (24.3%) were with private nonprofit organizations. Some 21.6% said they were with public organizations, and 2.7% were with "other" types of organizations.

Health club respondents in 2020 manage an average of 2 facilities, down from 4.7 in 2019. They were much more likely than non-health-club respondents to report that they manage just a single facility. Some 69.4% of health club respondents said they manage just one facility, compared with 30.5% of non-health-club respondents. Conversely, while 2.8% of health club respondents said they manage 10 or more facilities, nearly one-fifth (19.9%) of non-health-club respondents said they have 10 or more facilities to manage.

Health club respondents were the least likely to report that they form partnerships with other organizations, though a majority of them do so. Some 70.3% of health club respondents said they partner with outside organizations (down from 77.1% in 2019). This compares with 97.2% of non-health-club respondents. The most common partners for health club respondents include: health care and medical facilities (32.4% of health club respondents had partnered with them); corporate and local businesses (29.7%); colleges and universities (29.7%); local schools (27%); and local government (27%).

Respondents from health clubs were far more likely than others to report that their primary audience is made up of adults. Some 72.2% of health club respondents said adults were their primary audience, compared with just 16.7% of non-health-club respondents. Another 16.7% of health club respondents said they reach all ages, while 8.3% primarily serve seniors, and 2.8% primarily serve college students.

Revenues & Expenditures

Over the past several years, health club respondents have seen more volatility in their revenues than other respondents to the Industry Report Survey, and this year was no exception. After reporting steady or increasing revenues from 2017 to 2018, respondents in 2020 were more likely to report that revenues had fallen again in 2019. From 2018 to 2019, nearly half (48.6%) of health club respondents said revenues had increased, while 27% said there had been no change, and nearly a quarter (24.3%) said revenues had fallen. (See Figure 53.)

In January 2020, health club respondents were relatively optimistic about their prospects for the year, with 58.3% projecting revenues to increase, 30.6% expecting no change, and 11.1% expecting a decrease.

The COVID-19 Update Survey taken in May paints a stark picture for these respondents, with 100% indicating that they now expect 2020 revenues to drop from 2019. More than half (56.5%) of health club respondents expect their revenues to drop by 30 to 40% in 2020, while 4.3% expect a smaller decline of 10 to 20%. Nearly four in 10 (39.1%) health club respondents said they expect revenues to decline by at least 50% in 2020.

From 2019 to 2020, health club respondents reported a 20.8% decrease to their average operating costs, from $1,680,000 in 2018 to $1,330,000 in 2019. Looking forward, health club respondents projected a further decrease of 3.8%, falling to an average of $1,250,000 in 2020 before increasing again in 2021 to an average of $1,280,000.