Frequently Asked Questions: Research


Do You Know the Answers?

1. What is the methodology for calculating membership attrition?

IHRSA's Uniform System of Accounts for the Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Industry discusses how to calculate membership attrition. Membership attrition is measured on an annual basis. Since memberships are added and dropped each month, the attrition formula is best calculated using the average opening monthly membership for a rolling twelve-month period.

FORMULA: Membership Attrition = (Aggregate Dropped Memberships for 12 months) / 12-month average beginning memberships

For more from the Uniform System of Accounts for the Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Industry, visit the IHRSA store.


2. How many health club consumers utilize group exercise?

Based on the IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, 40% of health club consumers participate in Group Exercise. This translates to 21.1 million Americans. Three out of five group exercise participants are women.


3. How many parking spaces should a club have to accommodate the members?

According to architect Hervey Lavoie of the Ohlson Lavoie Corporation in Denver, you should plan on one parking space for every 12-15 members in a suburban club. (This accounts for the impact of public transportation and multiple passengers per car.)

Note: In urban clubs, the number may be significantly less because of the large number of members arriving by foot or public transportation. This may not suffice during periods of peak usage, and you may want to set up parking overflow parking arrangements to handle excessive demand.

According to Donald DeMars of Donald DeMars International suggests that a club should plan for 5 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet. In a club's peak hours you can expect 10-12% of membership using the club during those hours (example before work, after work).

4. How many lockers should a club have to accommodate its members?

According to Hervey Lavoie of the Ohlson Lavoie Corporation in Denver, a generous ratio for suburban clubs is one locker per every 10 memberships.

5. What's a healthy ratio for club membership dues collected via EFT versus cash accounts?

A healthy ratio for automatic collections whether through EFT, credit card, or other systems is 60% of total monthly membership revenues. Recommended that a club attempt to collect approximately 40% of its membership revenues in the form of 'cash income' from three, six, or 12-month contracts. (Michael Scott Scudder, owner of the Fitness Advantage fitness center in Saugerties, New York, and head of the Fitness Company)

6. CALCULATION: How can a club calculate the membership capacity of it's fitness center?

  1. Determine the total number of members the club can accommodate at one time by counting all strength training equipment, cardiovascular equipment, number of spaces in the group exercise room(s), and other fitness floor space (i.e. areas for flexibility, core, bodyweight training, etc.).

    For Example: 1 member per every cardio unit, one member per every aerobics space, one member per every two pieces of strength training equipment (keep in mind larger functional training apparatus with several strength stations may be able to accommodate a few members), one member per every unit of other fitness floor space.
  2. The sum of those four componenets of usage is the maximum number of members that the fitness center floor can serve at one time. 
  3. Usage of locker rooms also needs to be accounted for. Add in usage and locker room figures to determine the total number of members the total club can accommodate at one time.
  4. Divide hours of operation by the length of the average visit to determine the total number of visits per day. 
  5. Multiply the number obtained in step 4 by the total number of members the club can accommodate at one time to determine base individual member capacity. This final figure represents the club's capacity.

    NOTE: One needs to account for low use members as well as seasonal members.

7. In regards to travel time, how long will a person travel to commute to a club?

In suburban markets, in which the automobile is the primary means of commuting to a club, the primary trading area for clubs in competitive markets extends no more than 10-12 minutes travel time from the club, which translates into no more than five miles from the club site. (IHRSA's Guide to the Health Club Industry for Lenders & Investors)