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Top Three Reasons People Join a Club

Q: "Based on the most up to date research, what are the top three reasons for people joining a health club? Are there differences between age groups and sex?"

A: There are many reasons why people join health clubs. This is evident by the total number of health clubs and different types of clubs out there to join. Some clubs offer any activity and amenity a person could want, while others focus on a few core activities. Whatever the consumer goal, there is a health club out there designed to help meet that goal.

Whatever the consumer goal, there is a health club out there designed to help meet that goal. IHRSA recently (April 2009) conducted a survey of 1,000 Americans and asked them why they are attracted to their health club, what their personal goals were, and if they were not members of a health club, what prevented them from joining. The responses were very interesting. When members were asked what attracted them to their current health club, the top 3 selections were made (multiple selections were allowed):

  • For their overall/health & wellbeing (69% of health club members)
  • For the variety of equipment, strength and cardiovascular equipment (55%)
  • In order to get my work out in, rather than to socialize (48%) When we take a closer look at the responses by analyzing the demographic data we get a better understanding of what motivates people to join clubs and continue to exercise at them:
    • Exercising for overall health/wellbeing was the most frequently selected response by all health club members. However, the most notable demographic consumer group citing this reason were those who have incomes over $80,000. Income appears to play a significant role when working out with friends and family; members with incomes between $41,000 and $80,000 cite this reason more so than those who make less than $40,000.
  • When we take a look at how age/generation factors into selection we see that Generation Y (19-29 year olds) are most likely to cite the following reasons more so than the Eisenhower Generation:
    • The variety of equipment, strength and cardiovascular equipment
    • Access to group exercise classes
    • My friends and family work out at the club While Generation X (20-33 year olds) are most likely, as compared to the Eisenhower Generation, to cite that they use the club because they feel obligated to go because of the money they spend on membership. Baby Boomers are most likely, as compared to the Eisenhower Generation, to cite that they use the club because their friends and family work out there.
  • As for how gender plays into the selection process, it seems that women are most likely to select a health club to gain access to group exercise classes, more so than men. See below for more detailed reasons why members choose their health club, as well as the personal goals that motivate them to exercise there and what prevents others from joining a health club.

An online survey of 1,000 Americans conducted in April 2009, indicated that health club members (14% of the sample), keep going back to their health club for the following reasons:

Additional demographic and statistically significant selections can be found by visiting

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