I’ve been a gym owner for over 10 years. And NEVER, in my experience in this industry, did I imagine that one day the local gym would be closed down for an entire year nor will it be considered as a “high-risk environment.”
But then, as we all saw, COVID-19 sweeped the world. And as states introduced lockdown orders around the country, I knew I needed to find a way to get out of this time of uncertainty.
After all, health and fitness are more important now than ever, and it’s not likely that this pandemic will last forever.
In all the time I’ve spent at home this year, I’ve found the most surprising gym membership statistics that will boost the industry ten-fold once the pandemic is over.
These surprising gym membership statistics may help the gym members, fitness directors, and health club operators, both in the US and across the world.
So, let’s dive straight into the data!
Table of Contents
- The Top 10 Most Important Gym Membership Statistics
- Who’s Going To Your Gym: The Demographics of a Gym Member
- Why People Go To The Gym: Gym Motivators, Attendances, and Reasons for Quitting
- Is It Worth It To Go To The Gym? Statistics on Gym Costs for Membership
- The Gym Industry: Statistics of Gyms In the USA and Around The World
- What’s On Trend: Home Workouts, Group Classes, and Gyms After Covid 19
- FAQ: Let’s Answer Some Frequently Asked Questions
- The Bottomline
The Top 10 Most Important Gym Membership Statistics
1. 12% of Gym Membership Sign-Ups Happen in January
According to IHRSA 2018 Global Report, 12% of gym membership sign-ups occur in January. This doesn’t come as a surprise as many people have “working out more” or “joining a gym” on their New Year Resolutions.
For gym owners, personal trainers, club operators, and supplement companies, this basically means you have to be prepared for the influx of gym members in January than any other month.
So, value your operations correctly. Make sure that the machines or equipment are working and that the computer system will not crash.
2. Over Half of the Current Gym Members Don’t Like the Influx of New Members
While January is notoriously the busiest time of the year, 56% of current gym members don’t like the influx of New Year’s “resolutioners.” This is based on the data from CouponCabin.
This is not because they don’t want to socialize, but they have to suddenly wait in lines for machines, or they are left wondering where all the clean towels went.
To reduce friction between the “veteran” gym members and the new recruits, gym owners can introduce classes to encourage mutual support or break down the barriers.
If you are a gym member, you can go to the gym not during peak hours instead. Peak hours are often earlier in the day or before closing.
3. More People Use the Internet To Search for Gym Facilities, Services
The IHRSA 2019 report details that more people are actively browsing online to search for gym facilities and services.
What’s more, about 80% of new gym members are millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) and Gen Zers (born between 1997 and 2012). These are the generations that use social media.
Google Trends 2020 likewise show that searches for gym membership spike right around January and drops between April 5 and 11, 2020. The District of Columbia had the highest interest in a gym membership, followed by Hawaii and Maryland.
Gym and health clubs should take advantage of this data. Give your potential clients a way to connect to your brand by improving your website as it is a representation of your business. Social media should also be a part of your fitness club marketing strategy.
4. It Costs More To Acquire a New Member Than Retain an Existing One
Acquiring a new gym member is about 5 to 25 times more costly than retaining an existing one, states Harvard Business Review. So, yes, customer retention is really important.
A study done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company emphasized the value of loyal relationships in business. It details how increasing the member retention rate by 5% will potentially increase profits between 25 and 95%.
5. Group Fitness Drives Higher Retention Rate
People around you influence your attitude, feelings, and thoughts about exercise. Not to mention that working out with friends is motivating.
This is why group fitness drives a higher retention rate (73%), according to the Fitness Business Association (FBA).
6. Risk of Cancellation Is Lower Among Members Who Exercise in Groups vs. Those Who Only Use Gym Equipment
IHRSA gym member retention statistics states that the risk of gym membership cancellation was 44% lower among health club members who exercise in groups compared to those who only use gym equipment.
Apparently, social interaction in the gym industry affects renewals.
7. An Average Gym Member Goes to the Gym Twice a Week
An average gym member goes to the gym at least twice a week and about 82% of gym or fitness facility members go to the gym less than once a week, based on the IHRSA annual attrition rate.
8. Healthy Behaviors Begin To Trend Back to Average by February
Two years of Facebook data shows that check-ins to facilities with “fitness” and “gyms” begin to drop by 10% in February.
Americans refer to this phenomenon as the “Fall of the Wagon.” Foursquare data also shows February 9 is the day that healthy behaviors begin to trend back to average and a larger drop in gym visits by April.
9. Use of Mobile App for Members Increases Likelihood of Retention
The use of mobile fitness apps with various health monitoring areas will help gym members track their goals and will help increase the club’s likelihood of retention.
When mobile app analytics platform Flurry reviewed over 1,000,000 apps across all application categories and involving 2.1 billion devices, it found that health and fitness apps showed the highest user retention rates.
10. Social Interaction Is Important to Members
Combining socialization with physical activity leads to positive physical and mental well-being.
IHRSA even included “clubs as social hubs” as among the top fitness industry trends of 2019.
Who’s Going To Your Gym: The Demographics of a Gym Member
The fitness industry is poised for growth even after the pandemic. Knowing the demographics of gym members is important to introduce the right workout based on age group and interest.
Gym membership by generation
Gym membership statistics show that millennials represent 33% of fitness studio membership, while General X only represents about 24%.
The generation that had the lowest representation in gym memberships is the Silent Generation (7%) or people born from 1928 to 1945, followed by Generation Z (14%).
But the fitness industry also welcomes the young at heart. Baby boomers are the most active gym members pre-pandemic based on Nuffield Health’s findings.
Gym membership by age
The IHRSA 2020 report shows that 60.60% of gym members belong to the two largest age groups: those 18 to 34 years of age and 35 to 54 years of age. These age groups make up 30.90% members and 30.70% members respectively.
Health club memberships income statistics
A majority (58.84%) of all US gym members have an average household income of $75,000, based on PAC 2019 data.
Fitness club members with the highest household income bracket (earning $100,000 or more) make up 38.98% of gym memberships.
Statistics on income and age also appear to coincide. Perhaps, it’s because as an individual grows older, they also gain more experience in their career and tend to have more income opportunities.
Gym gender statistics
More than 50% of all gym members in the US were female, the IHRSA 2020 report states. And exercises women were more inclined to participate in over the decade are yoga, pilates, and barre.
While there may be more women in the gym, men still workout more. In fact, the Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that men double the amount of physical activity that women do.
In the same IHRA report, women health club-goers increased by 32.2% from 2010 to 2019. Men gym users grew by 23.2%.
While the health club market or the fitness industry was among the most affected sectors when the pandemic forced businesses to shut down, at-home and virtual workouts still took over.
Gym motivations by gender
Another gym gender statistic published in the International Journal of Arts and Social Science shows that women have higher workouts and quality of life levels than men. Women said they exercise to tone their body or loss weight, whereas men exercise for enjoyment.
According to RunRepeat, about 20% to 40% of men consider body image as their main motivator for gym attendance. They work out in the gym because of their feelings of shame and guilt than a desire to build muscle.
Such statistics relate to a study published in the American Journal of Men’s Health about the body-related shame people experience when they don’t meet internalized social standards.
“I am a fat person” or “I didn’t exercise for three months. That’s why I gained weight,” some respondents say.
But both gender shares a common goal in working out. That is, to lose belly fat. This is according to the new figures shown by Nuffield Health.
Regarding the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week, only 23% of the US population meets such guidelines. This percentage is slightly lower compared to European countries, with about 50% of the population engaging in exercise. Data is provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
In Norway, for instance, women often participated in resistance exercises and group lessons. Men more often jog as their form of workout from 2019-2020. This yearly survey involved 11,724 people.
Men vs. women’s New Year’s fitness resolution
With the clean slate of a new year, both men and women have New Year’s resolutions that are fitness related. In the US alone, 50% of the population wants to improve their fitness, 48% want to lose weight, and 39% want to improve their diet.
Different stats revealed that men (51.5%) were better at sticking to their New Year goals than women (42.6%).
Female gym-goers (14%) are also more likely than men (8%) to quit one year after membership. This statistics is according to SaaS/B2B software platform Finances Online. But women are twice more likely to use gym workout videos/ programs to work out at home than men.
Even though using a smartphone while in the gym reduces workout intensity and affects balance, 46% of men and 43% of women still use their devices while working out at the gym.
Why People Go To The Gym: Gym Motivators, Attendances, and Reasons for Quitting
How Often People Use Their Gym Membership
About 1 in 5 Americans are a member of at least one US fitness club or studio, the IHRSA 2019 gym attendance report highlights. In 2018 alone, there were over 6 billion visits to 39,570 workout clubs or gyms.
The least busy and quietest times at the gyms are 4 AM-5 AM (early mornings), 9 AM-11 AM (late morning), 3 PM-4 PM (afternoon), and 8 PM-9 PM (evening). This gym attendance data is from Classpass 2019 and IHRSA – 2020.
Gym Motivations: Common Reasons Why People Join the Gym
Statista gym membership statistics surveyed gym members in the US. Their common reasons why they work out at a gym are:
- Stay healthy (54%),
- Gain strength and endurance (42%),
- Lose weight (41%),
- Fight stress in their everyday life (39%),
- Get a better-looking body (38%), optimize their appearance (37%), and
- Meet friends at the gym (25%).
People also go to gyms or fitness clubs to pick up dates or meet friends, a Kettler study found. Said research involved 2,000 participants.
Kettler’s study also found that 30% of gym-goers spend more time socializing with other members than exercising or working out.
Why Do People Exercise Together? Benefits of Group Exercises
Exercising in a motivational pack has become a preferred form of gym activity or workout. It carries many intertwined physical, mental, and social benefits.
For one, having people who share the same fitness goals as you make the weight loss journey or workout more enjoyable and fun.
Cancellations and “no shows” that are noticed by others create a positive pressure, which consequently curtails the urge to skip a gym workout.
There is also strength in numbers when it comes to group workouts because you tend to push yourself harder. The want of not being the weakest link in a group is called the Köhler effect.
Moreover, having a plus one during gym workouts diversifies the exercises. For instance, you would do exercises that you could not do alone, like assisted pull-ups.
Since first-workout-fears and low self-esteem can be obstacles in developing a fitness routine, attending gym classes or having an instructor keeps you on track and makes exercise less intimidating.
Working out with a more-capable partner
People who workout with a more-capable buddy increased their plank time by 24% and it improved their persistence in aerobic exercise by 125%, a study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found.
Top Excuses People Use for Not Going to the Gym
A survey commissioned by Better the top excuses that people use for not going to the gym.
- Lack of time (39.46%),
- Lack of confidence (16.55%),
- The gym is too crowded (14.28%),
- Childcare (10.11%),
- Just done my hair (7.09%), and
- Phobia of lycra or of wearing stretchy, skin-tight gym clothing (4.9%).
Percentage of Gym Membership That Go Unused
Gym attendance statistics from Compare Camp also show that 82% of gym memberships are used less than once a week, 63% are completely unused, and 22% of members completely stopped going to a health and fitness club after six months.
Gym Membership Attrition Rates
- 50% of all new gym members quit within six months of membership
- 8% of men quit within a year of membership
- 14% of women quit with a year of membership (IHRSA 2018).
Top Reasons for Quitting the Gym
Fitness industry data from IHRSA 2018 further shows that 38% of members cancel their gym memberships because they find it expensive, while 23% is due to non-use.
Another survey conducted by Statista on 1,000 US respondents showed other reasons why they quit their former health or gym club memberships.
These reasons include:
- Moving to a new place or their location was no longer convenient (20%),
- They could exercise somewhere else for free (19%),
- The gym got too crowded (17%),
- They developed an injury, other condition, or underwent surgery (11%),
- They felt out of place (9%),
- They lost their job (8%), and
- They no longer like to exercise (7%).
Is It Worth It To Go To The Gym? Statistics on Gym Costs for Membership
Statistics on Gym Costs for Membership
The US fitness industry is worth more than $38 billion in 2019. The average cost of the membership fees at popular gyms in the US amounts to:
- $100 (Lifetime Fitness)
- $50 (Snap Fitness)
- $47 (24-Hour Fitness)
- $39 (Anytime Fitness)
- $40 (Gold’s Gym).
Traditional Health Clubs vs. Private Fitness Studios
Traditional health clubs often have visitors and members waiting to get into machines, like treadmills, aerobic steppers, stationary bikes, and weight machines. Yet, it is more affordable than private fitness studios.
Traditional gyms cost $58 per month while private training sessions in fitness centers cost between $250 and $400 per month.
Personal Trainer Cost
On average, a personal trainer charges $25 to $50 per half an hour session or $40 to $70 hour per hour session.
If you prefer to extend your workout hour, then the charge would normally be $60 to $100 per 90-minute session, based on the Lessons.com estimate.
Fitness Purchases/ Amount Gym-Goers Are Spending on Fitness
Americans spend an average of $56 on health supplements, $17 on healthy meal plans, and $35 on fitness clothing and accessories per month.
These fitness club industry and gym statistics are provided by My Protein. Meanwhile, Market Research World found that gym-goers are more likely to eat chocolate bars than those who don’t go to the gym.
Nevertheless, nearly 50% of gym-goers are willing to give up pizza and alcohol forever to maintain weight loss.
The Gym Industry: Statistics of Gyms In the USA and Around The World
Gym Membership by State
The fitness club industry in the US is flourishing. As of August 2020, Minnesota is the state with the most gym (571).
The top states with the highest number of gyms include Connecticut (272), Wisconsin (431), Iowa (232), and New Hampshire (97). Data is from Exercise.com.
Health club memberships vs. highest exercise rates
While it may seem a contradiction, the high number of fitness centers in the US does not automatically mean a high exercise rate.
The National Center for Health Statistics shared that Colorado (32.5%) is the state with the highest percentage of adults who met both aerobic and muscle-strengthening federal guidelines, followed by Idaho (31.4%), New Hampshire (30.7%), Washington D.C. (30.7%), and Vermont (29.5%).
What Is the Most Popular Gym in America?
Some of the most well-known and successful gyms in the US include Planet Fitness ($10-$20 monthly membership cost), and Crunch Fitness ($9.95/month base or $21.95/month for peak), YouFit ($10-$20).
Planet Fitness gathers members quickly because they offer low-cost service and plenty of amenities. Planet Fitness likewise has a “Judgement Free Zone.”
But if you prefer specialized fitness clubs or boutiques, other big names in the industry are Cross Fit (membership cost of $75-$225 monthly), Orangetheory Fitness (Basic to Premier classes range between $59/month to $169/month), and Pure Barre ($185-$225/month).
Countries With the Highest Gym Member Penetration Rate
IHRSA 2020 listed the countries with the highest gym member penetration rates. These are Sweden (22.00%), Norway (22.00%), United States (21.20%), and Denmark (18.90%).
If you’re wondering what percentage of the global population has a gym membership, the IHRSA 2020 detailed that it’s 2.36%.
Top Countries With the Most Members per Gym
Meanwhile, China is the country with the most members (2,558.01) per gym. Other countries in the IHRSA 2020 list are Hong Kong (2,388.89 members per gym), Taiwan (2,366.67), South Africa (2,072.50), and Singapore (1,600.00).
What Gym Chain Has the Most Locations Globally?
Anytime Fitness is one of the biggest chains with 4,520 gyms globally. [IHRSA 2020, gym membership statistics].
Most Expensive Gym Memberships in the World
Athletes Performance Gym in Arizona and Wellness Sky in Serbia are two of the most expensive gyms in the world with $ 30,000 annual charges.
Other most expensive gyms and fitness studios in the world are The Madison Square Club ($26,000), The Houstonian Club in Houston, Texas ($24,000), E at Equinox in New York ($21,000).
ExpertFitness.org based it on the annual charges that these gyms and fitness centers charge plus the facilities they provide.
Price Rankings By Country of Fitness Club Based on Members’ Monthly Fee
But if we based on general price rankings, countries with the most expensive fitness club membership fee are found in Qatar (US$110.08/month), Kuwait ($107.74), Singapore ($105.10), Switzerland ($91.83), and Saudi Arabia ($86.99).
This health club industry data is from Numbeo.
What’s On Trend: Home Workouts, Group Classes, and Gyms After Covid 19
US Fitness Industry (Pre-Pandemic)
Yoga (25%) is the most popular fitness in America pre-pandemic, according to software-as-a-service company MINDBODY’s Wellness Index Report in 2019.
Other types of routine group exercises that Americans participate in include weight/strength training (17%), Zumba or similar dance fitness (15%), dance (12%), spinning or cycling (12%), and aerobics (12%).
US Gym Memberships During the Covid-19 Pandemic
Although gym attendance in the first half of 2020 was wiped out, the purchase of home gyms or fitness gear increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. Peloton, recognized for its Wifi-enabled stationary bikes, even saw a 55% growth in its stock price during the pandemic.
There has also been a 25% increase in meditation classes and virtual workouts since the start of the pandemic.
TD Ameritrade’s survey on American’s finances and lifestyle further shows that 65% of US gym-goers plan to return to the club once it’s reopened or post-pandemic.
However, the Millennials, which comprise the largest membership base in gyms, may be faced with financial constraints.
FAQ: Let’s Answer Some Frequently Asked Questions
What drives people into gyms or fitness clubs?
The top drivers why people sign up for gym memberships are convenient location (50%), great atmosphere (26%), great equipment (31%), great fitness classes to music (29%), and their friends go there (28%).
Data is provided by Nielsen Global Consumer Exercise Trends.
How many calories does a person burn at the gym in a day?
Harvard Health’s data showed that running: 5 mph (12 min/mile) on a treadmill burns 240 – 355 calories per 30 minutes. The amount of calories burned varies based on the person’s weight too.
Weightlifting burns 90-133 in 30 minutes, yoga (120-178 calories), low impact aerobics (165-244), and elliptical trainer exercise (270-400).
How often should I workout to see results?
Three to five workouts in one week or three to five hours of physical activity produce good results. But take note that it is also important to schedule a rest day, for a healthy balance.
When is the best time to go to the gym?
For morning and evening fitness fanatics out there, do know that the peak time at the gym is associated with how normal working hours are broken up. Meaning, it gets busier after work, before work, or during lunch. [IHRSA 2020]
Are gyms on the rise or decline?
There has been a 12% increase in home gyms or at-home fitness, according to consulting company McKinsey.
While the industry has been hit hard by global events, there remain positive signals that gyms will continue to rise. The US fitness industry is expected to reach $33.3bn this year, according to the IBIS World 2020 report.
Cloud access control platform Kisi also found that 73% of Americans are currently not engaging in out-of-home activities and are still waiting for indicators before engaging.
The Covid-19 pandemic may have changed the way workouts are done, but gyms will continue to exist. Many people will gradually be comfortable returning to fitness centers and gyms.
More so that gyms not only help people’s physical health but also their mental health. Some of our members even shared that it helps relieve their pressure and it’s a nice feeling to just see another person after months of lockdown.
It is therefore imperative for us as gym owners to keep our members safe and operate responsibly.
We can use the statistics above to find unique solutions and better prepare as fitness will surely come back stronger, post-pandemic.
If you like this article, you might want to read our other reviews at ExpertFitness.org.
Nathan Lloyd, MSc
LICENSED PERSONAL TRAINER
I’m a personal trainer, based in Boulder, Colorado.
I service clients physically in the Boulder area, mainly in the ONE Boulder Fitness Gym, but am also available for online consulting and coaching.
If you’re interested in my personal coaching programs, please contact me via the contact page.