30 Facts about the gym and fitness industry that will surprise you!

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Over the past few decades, fitness has climbed from a P.E. class and garage weight set afterthought to a multi-billion dollar industry. Getting people to work out and try to be healthier has also never been more necessary, as according to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 70% of Americans over the age of 20 are overweight, including 35% that are considered obese.

But just signing up for a gym membership every January doesn’t ensure that you’ll be fit, or even actually use it, according to research, and many gyms count on you NOT being there in order to make their profits!

Here are 30 facts about the gym and fitness industry that will surprise you!

  1. Last year, more than 54 million Americans had paid gym memberships. (Which means that about 200 million adult Americans don’t go to a gym, although that doesn’t mean they don’t work out, of course.)
  2. For the second year in a row, they collectively went to the gym to work out more than 5 billion times! In fact, the average gym member went to work out there more than 100 times last year – which was an all-time high.
  3. Memberships have grown nearly 20% since 2008, and are expected to grow 23% over the next 10 years.
  4. But 80% of Americans who have a gym membership don’t go to the gym!
  5. Typical turnover is about 30% per year, with almost one-third of members canceling each year.
  6. In the U.S., there are now 34,000 gyms, fitness centers, and health clubs – 6.4% more than only four years ago in 2013. That also means that there are twice as many gyms in the U.S. as McDonald’s fast food chains!
  7. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are more 533,220 people working in the fitness and recreational sports industry, a number that’s expected to grow 8% by 2024.
  8. Together, they brought in $24.2 billion in revenue last year, while around the globe, health clubs make about $75.7 billion in revenue each year.
  9. While there may be a flurry of new memberships every year in January as we rush to manifest our resolutions, only a small portion of them stick with it. In fact, 80% of gym goers who sign up in January make it past 5 months! And 4% of them won’t even make it past January, nor 14% past February!
  10. But about 1 in every 8 gym memberships are initiated during the January New Year’s rush.
  11. In fact, gym owners count on unused memberships to break even and make a profit. They calculate that only about 18% of people who buy memberships will ever use them consistently. (To be profitable, gym owners need about 10x the number of members as people that can fit inside their gym and work out at one time!)
  12. That’s why gym owners try to push membership numbers far past capacity. In fact, Planet Fitness has about 6,500 members per gym but can accommodate only about 300 people exercising at once.
  13. We may have a record number of people that belong to a gym or health club, but they certainly aren’t all going consistently, as less than 50% of all members go to the gym 100 or more times per year.
  14. Colorado is the state with the highest gym participation rates, with 21% of members going to the gym consistently.
  15. Conversely, Alabama (10.2%), Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Louisiana, Indiana and Kentucky, are all under the 15% participation rate.
  16. The average cost of a gym membership in the U.S. is $41 per month, which has actually come down $8 per month since 2009.
  17. 12.5% of gym members use personal trainers. In fact, there’s been a 44% rise in the number of personal trainers over the last ten years.
  18. 30% of gym patrons admit that they usually don’t even break a sweat when they work out because they’re too busy chatting, on their phone, and being social!
  19. Furthermore, a recent study found that 50% of gym members show up not to work out, but to “check out the opposite sex or meet with friends.”
  20. In fact, according to that survey, 13% of American adults confess to telling someone that they were at the gym while they were actually somewhere else.
  21. Gyms also use psychological tactics (and a lot of shady billing practices) to entice new members as well as keep current members on the books and paying.
  22. For that reason, gyms are usually always planned out with the cardio equipment like treadmills, elliptical trainers, etc. right at the front of the building displayed in a window.
  23. They put the heavy lifting equipment and anything that looks difficult or intimidating in the back.
  24. Speaking of those shady billing practices, the Better Business Bureau receives at least 6,000 complaints every year about gyms and health clubs not canceling memberships as they should, overbilling, or utilizing negative option billing and other illicit tactics to keep members paying.
  25. Group classes are also a huge trend in the industry, with 22% of members renewing their membership just to keep attending fitness classes.
  26. Likewise, the buddy system seems to work for achieving fitness goals, as 44% of all gym members work out with a partner.
  27. Why do people cancel their gym membership?
  28. 46% said it’s the cost that’s prohibitive, although financial planners point to the fact that when people finally start budgeting, the first things they often do are cancel cable TV and their gym membership.
  29. The facility being too dirty is also a major concern – particularly for women, and 50% leave because the location isn’t convenient.
  30. What else can we tell you about the gym industry? Studies show that about 90% of people who walk into the gym and sign up say they want to lose belly fat.
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