Survey: One in Four Gym Members Are Dissatisfied with Their Health Clubs

Twenty-five percent of gym members are not happy with their health clubs, according to a recent survey. The happiest members, however, belong to YMCAs, which scored the highest in loyalty and the lowest in churn. 

Colorado-based research firm Market Force Information recently surveyed 4,129 American consumers who reported having a health club membership for its study, “US Health & Beauty: Consumer Experiences & Competitive Benchmarks.” Of respondents, 63 percent were members of a national chain (which includes YMCAs), 8.4 percent were members of a city parks and rec center while 22.2 percent were members of a local, non-branded gym.  

The data showed that 24 percent of respondents were dissatisfied with their gym and 25 percent would not recommend their club. Members who were "very satisfied" (meaning they gave it a five-star rating) with their health club were 2.7 times more likely to recommend their gym than those who were "satisfied" with their club (meaning they gave it a four-star rating).

YMCAs had the highest composite loyalty index at 51 percent. Planet Fitness was second with 47 percent.

One in 10 respondents said they were likely to cancel their membership in the next 90 days. However, YMCA members were least likely to cancel their memberships within the next 90 days (with a 6.8 percent "churn" rate). Gold's Gym members came in second for least likely to cancel (8.3 percent). Even though Planet Fitness had the second highest loyalty rate, its members were the most likely to cancel (12.8 percent) of the national chains noted.  

Planet Fitness had the least problems experienced by members at 2 percent, but it had the second lowest problems resolved-to satisfaction rate at 27 percent. YMCAs had the second lowest problems experienced rate (2.4 percent), but they had the highest problems resolved-to-satisfaction rate at 54 percent.

The researchers said that the satisfaction of health club members is primarily determined by overall value received for money paid; the quality of weightlifting equipment; the quality of racquetball courts; the instruction and overall workout quality in a fitness class; and the instruction and overall workout quality in yoga sessions.

The report also noted the following findings:

Membership Type

  • 63.1 percent belong to a national chain.
  • 22.2 percent belong to a local, non-branded gym.
  • 8.4 percent belong to a city parks and recreation center.

Market Share

Payment Plans

Club Attendance

  • 29 percent visit three to four times a week.
  • 20 percent visit a few times a month.
  • 19 percent visit twice a week.
  • 13 percent visit a few times a year.
  • 10 percent visit more than four times a week.
  • 7 percent visit once a week.

Exercise Preferences

  • 81 percent use aerobic equipment.
  • 76 percent use weightlifting equipment.
  • 60 percent attend fitness classes.
  • 58 percent use swimming pools.
  • 45 percent participate in yoga.

Personal Training

Client Satisfaction

  • 76 percent were satisfied with their health club.
  • 75 percent would recommend their health club.
    • “Delighted” clients proved 2.7 times more likely to recommend a brand.

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