U.S. Health Club Performance in 2021 Not Back to 2019 Levels, Per IHRSA Report

In 2021, 66.5 million people were members of U.S. health clubs, down 9 million from 2019, according to the 2022 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report from IHRSA, a trade association for commercial clubs.

Member visits totaled 4.5 billion in 2021, which was a 41.6 percent increase from 2020 but just 68 percent of pre-COVID engagement levels.

The market in 2021 also reflected a 36.8 percent smaller presence than in 2019.

However, on the positive side, 76.5 million people were health club consumers in 2021, a record high.

Also, the racial makeup of club members is becoming more diverse: 44.7 million are White (up from 33.9 million in 2010), 8.6 million are Hispanic (up from 4.2 million in 2010), 8 million are Black (up from 6.3 million in 2010) and 4.3 million are Asian/Pacific Islander (down from 4.5 million in 2010). IHRSA did not share the number of members who selected “other” for their race.

“This year’s report paints a stark picture, outlining how the health and fitness industry remains popular, engages customers, and provides demonstrable value and benefits for physical and mental health, but at the same time we also see that our industry has only reached about two-thirds of pre-COVID levels,” IHRSA President & CEO Liz Clark said.

Low-priced clubs appear to be popular, as 41 percent of consumers pay less than $25 per month to access a fitness facility.

The three most popular pieces of equipment at gyms continue to be treadmills, resistance machines, and free weights—just as they were prior to COVID. The top three activities among members are also consistent with 2019 data in ranked order: yoga, high-intensity interval training and swimming.

IHRSA released its report on Nov. 17, citing it as an essential tool to gain a deep and thorough understanding of the current state of the health and fitness industry. The report covers multiple areas of consumer behavior and fitness choices, facility types, exercise choices, location size and performance, program and class trends, consumer demographics and spending, among other areas.

The 2022 IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report was sponsored by Optum, a division of UnitedHealth Group, and was assembled from responses from 18,000 online consumer interviews and proprietary online panels representative of the U.S. population. Data analysis was conducted by L.E.K., a global strategy consulting firm.

The report is available to purchase at ihrsa.org/publications for $199.95. IHRSA members receive a discount.