More than one in five Americans belonged to a health club or studio in 2021, totaling 66.5 million consumers aged six and older, according to IHRSA. The latest data shows growth of 3.8% over the past two years, with growth exceeding pre-pandemic levels. Visits have dropped sharply.
“It is a clear indication of the importance of the physical component of the fitness industry that growth has returned despite club lockdowns, severe government restrictions imposed and surging digital offerings,” said Liz Clark, President and Director of IHRSA. CEO. “It’s a strong testament to the value of clubs and studios, the importance of community, the quality of in-person instruction, and the expansive offerings of the onsite experience.”
The IHRSA said a comparison to a year ago is irrelevant, given the number of health clubs mandated to close and the need for consumers to stay home. A growing overall percentage have used at least one health club or studio, reaching 27% of consumers, the highest total ever.
Although average attendance has decreased, this could be due to limited facility access, mandatory temporary government closures, lack of return to work, availability of COVID vaccine, capacity restrictions of usage and full club offering, according to the IHRSA.
The IHRSA said: “Despite the challenges related to COVID, recent data indicates that the industry’s overall participation rate reached 21.8%, the highest in its history. The trend in total number of visits over this period has decreased significantly, from 6.7 billion in 2019 to 4.5 billion in 2021. Similarly, the average number of annual club visits per individual has decreased by 109 at 72. Any conclusions may be premature, as this may directly correlate with the factors highlighted previously. Next year, an appropriate conclusion will bring more clarity.
IHRSA conducted this study as part of the Physical Activity Council. He determined that the total number of consumers, members and non-members, increased by 2.1% during COVID; however, the total number of visits has fallen by almost a third over the past two years.
A more comprehensive IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report will be released in the fall, and the IHRSA will release its 2022 Global Report this summer.