Feature Article - June 2022
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Trends in Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs

A Look at Trends in Health, Fitness & Sports Clubs

By Emily Tipping


Over the next few pages, we'll dig into the trends reported by health club respondents to the Industry Report survey, which includes not just health clubs, but also sports clubs, fitness clubs and medical fitness facilities. These respondents made up 5.7% of the survey population in 2022.

Health club respondents were most likely to be located in the West and Midwest regions of the United States. Some 37.9% said they were in the Western states, and 29% were located in the Midwest. Another 12.9% were from the Northeast, and 12.9% were from the South Central region, while 9.7% of health club respondents made their home in the South Atlantic region.

Nearly half (48.4%) of health club respondents were in suburban communities, while nearly one-third (32.3%) were found in urban areas, and nearly a fifth (19.4%) were in rural areas.

On average, health club respondents said they reach a population of 57,560 people, up from 54,070 in 2021. More than two-thirds (68.8%) of health club respondents said they reach a population of 20,000 or fewer people, compared with 52.1% of non-health-club respondents. And while just 9.4% of health club respondents said they reach a population of 100,000 or more, 17.4% of non-health-club respondents reach an audience that size.

A full 96.9% of health club respondents said they were with private organizations. Three-quarters (75%) were with for-profit facilities, while 21.9% said they were with private, nonprofit facilities. Another 3.1% were with an "other" type of organization, not public or governmental.

In 2022, health club respondents said they manage an average of 1.7 individual facilities, down from 2.9 in 2021. Health club respondents were highly likely to report that they manage just a single facility. More than three-quarters (78.1%) of health club respondents said they manage just one facility, compared with 42.6% of non-health-club respondents. On the other hand, while 15% of non-health-club respondents said they manage 10 or more facilities, just 3.1% of health club respondents have 10 or more facilities to manage.

Respondents from health clubs were much less likely in 2022 than in 2021 to report that they form partnerships with other organizations. Some 62.5% of health club respondents in 2022 said they form such partnerships, down from 78.4% in 2021. This compares with 83.5% of non-health-club respondents and 88.2% of non-health-club respondents, respectively. The most common partners for health clubs were health care and medical facilities. More than one-third (34.4%) of health club respondents said they had partnered with health care facilities, compared with 15.9% of non-health-club respondents. Other common partners for health clubs were corporate and local businesses (28.1%), local schools (25%), nonprofit organizations (18.8%), and colleges and universities (15.6%).

Health club respondents were far more likely than others to report that their primary audience is made up of adults and seniors. Some 68.8% of health club respondents said adults were their primary audience, compared with 16.3% of non-health-club respondents. And while 6.3% of health club respondents said they primarily reach seniors, just 2.7% of non-health-club respondents named seniors as their primary audience. Another 25% of health club respondents said they primarily reach all ages.

Revenues & Expenditures

Revenues for health club respondents tend to be more volatile than others, which makes sense given their mostly-for-profit nature. In typical years, around half of health club respondents will report that their revenues had increased in the preceding year, with between one-fifth and one-quarter reporting decreases. The pandemic obviously shook this pattern up significantly, and in 2020 nearly three-quarters (73%) of health club respondents saw their revenues decline. Like many businesses, they continued to struggle in 2021, with 41.9% reporting a decrease in revenues, 19.4% indicating that revenues had held steady, and 38.7% reporting an increase. (See Figure 58.)

Health club respondents tend to be optimistic about future revenue prospects, and this year's report supports that trend, with 58.1% expecting revenues to increase in 2022 and 67.9% expecting an increase in 2023. Still, nearly one-fifth (19.4%) of health club respondents are expecting their revenues to fall this year, and 7.1% expect a decrease in 2023.

Health club respondents in 2022 reported a dramatically lower average operating cost than the average for 2021. In 2022, health club respondents had an average operating cost of $490,000, 62.9% lower than the average of $1,320,000 reported in 2021. Looking forward, they expect their costs to grow 26.5% between 2021 and 2023, to an average of $620,000.