Feature Article - June 2021
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Trends in Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs

A Look at Trends in Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs


In these pages, 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 2.6% of the survey population in 2021.

Respondents from health clubs were not concentrated in any specific region. More than half were from either the Midwest (27%) or the West (27%), and another 24.3% were from the Northeast. Smaller numbers were from the South Atlantic (16.2%) and South Central (5.4%) regions.

Respondents from health clubs were most likely to be located in suburban communities. Nearly half (48.6%) said they were located in the suburbs. Another 27% were located in rural communities, while 24.3% said they made their home in an urban community.

On average, health club respondents said they reach a population of 54,070 people, up from 42,970 in 2020. More than seven out of 10 (70.3%) health club respondents said they reach a population of 20,000 or fewer, compared with 47.1% of non-health-club respondents. And, while 21% of non-health-club respondents said they reach a population of 100,000 or more, just 16.2% of health club respondents reach an audience that size.

More than half (56.8%) of health club respondents said they were with private, for-profit organizations. Another 37.8% were with private nonprofit organizations, and just 5.4% said they were with public or governmental organizations.

Health club respondents in 2021 manage an average of 2.9 facilities, up from 2 in 2020. They were far more likely than non-health-club respondents to report that they manage just a single facility. Some 78.4% of health club respondents said they manage just one facility, compared with 33.5% of non-health-club respondents. Conversely, while just 5.4% of health club respondents said they manage 10 or more facilities, some 15.9% of non-health-club respondents said they have at least 10 facilities to manage.

Health club respondents were much less likely than others to report that they form partnerships with other organizations, though a majority of them do. Some 78.4% of health club respondents said they partner with outside organizations (up from 70.3% in 2020). This compares with 88.2% of non-health-club respondents. The most common partner for health club respondents was health care and medical facilities. In fact, they were nearly twice as likely as non-health-club respondents to partner with this type of organization. Some 45.9% of health club respondents said they partner with health care and medical facilities, compared with 23.1% of non-health-club respondents. Other common partners for health club respondents include: local government (37.8%); local schools (32.8%); corporate and local businesses (29.7%); and nonprofit organizations (24.3%).

Respondents from health clubs were far more likely than others to report that their primary audience is made up of adults or seniors. Some 62.2% of health club respondents said adults were their primary audience, compared with just 14.8% of non-health-club respondents. And while 8.1% said they primarily reach seniors, just 3.3% of non-health-club respondents named seniors as their primary audience. Another 27% of health club respondents said their primary audience is made up of all ages, and 2.7% said they reach children ages 4 to 12.

Revenues & Expenditures

Health club respondents tend to report more volatility when it comes to revenues than other types of respondents to the Industry Report survey. In most years, health clubs are more likely to report decreases to revenues than others, but they also tend to be far more optimistic about future revenues. In 2020, nearly three-quarters (73%) of health club respondents said their revenues had decreased, while 18.9% reported no change and 8.1% said their revenues had increased. (See Figure 57.)

Health club respondents were slightly more optimistic about 2021, with 41.7% expecting revenues to increase this year. Only camp respondents were more likely to be expecting revenue increases in 2021. Another 27.8% of health club respondents said they expect their revenues to remain unchanged in 2021, while 30.6% expect a decrease.

Looking forward, health clubs are, as usual, far more optimistic. More than two-thirds (69.7%) said they expect their revenues to increase in 2022. Another 21.2% expect no change in 2022, while just 9.1% are expecting revenues to decline next year.