Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

November 2018

Report: One in Four Americans Use a Health Club

By Chandler Garland

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association recently released “The 2018 Health Club Consumer Report,” which provides demographics and data on the health, sports and fitness participation of America’s health club consumers. The report is designed to guide club operators by increasing their understanding consumer behavior as well as leverage demographic trends in efforts to stand out from the competition. Each chapter is on a specific area or application of the data collected for the study, including such topics as membership and consumer growth trends, member behavior, tenure and attendance, and overarching recommendations.

Using more than 30,000 online interviews from a nationwide sample of individuals and households in early 2018, the report shows how consumers use health clubs to engage in regular activity and pursue fitness goals, whether they are members of the club or not.

“U.S. health club membership reached an all-time high in 2017, attracting 60.9 million members, an increase of 6.3 percent from 2016,” said Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global products. “Another 9.1 million non-members exercised at clubs. In all, nearly one in four Americans use a health club to pursue fitness and wellness goals.”

Furthermore, the report shows that 23 percent of health club members belonged to more than one club or studio in 2017. Consumers who primarily used a specialized studio, such as a martial arts studio or facility for specific sports training, were more likely to be members of multiple facilities. For example, as many as nine out of 10 members of combat-focused studios belong to more than one facility. However, the data shows that only one in four members of full-service clubs such as fitness-only and multipurpose sport facilities belonged to more than one club or studio.

“Nearly half of members are core health club users, meaning they visit the club for at least 100 days a year,” said Melissa Rodriguez, IHRSA’s senior research manager. “Considering the variety of programs and services as well as relatively affordable membership fees, full-service health clubs tend to attract a greater share of core members than boutique studios.”

In addition to the study of consumer activity, the report provides an analysis of how membership and consumer fees affect consumer activity at health clubs and studios, and there is a section on the activity of private and small group training clients. Overall, the report covers every facet of health club consumption to assist operators in the creation of new plans for the growing interest of consumers in health clubs and facilities, as well as refine their practices to meet the specific needs of their patrons.

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