Frequently Asked Questions: Research


Do You Know the Answers?

General FAQs 

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, 43% of health club consumers participate in Group Exercise. This translates to about 22.1 million Americans. Seven out of 10 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 on aerobics floor.

    For Example: 1 member per every cardio unit, one member per every aerobics space, one member per every two pieces of strength training equipment
  2. The sum of those three 'fractions of usage' is the maximum number of members 'in usage' that the fitness center can serve at one time. Keeping in mind that usage of locker rooms also needs to be accounted for.
  3. Add in usage and locker room figures to determine the total number of members the club can accommodate at one time.
  4. Divide hours of operation by the length of the average visit to determine the number of membership cycles per day. Multiply that number by the total number of members the club can accommodate at one time to determine base membership capacity

    NOTE: One needs to account for low use members as well as seasonal members
  5. The final represents the club's capacity.

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)


Consumer FAQs

1.     How many personal trainer users are there in the U.S.?

Based on the IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report, there are 6.4 million personal trainer users in the U.S.

2.     How many health club members are there in the U.S.?

According to IHRSA’s annual health club consumer study, 51.4 million Americans six and older are health clubs members.

3.     How many “core” health club members are there in the U.S.?

“Core” health club members visit the health club clubs at least 100 times a year. In 2011, 24.1 million of the 51.4 million members were core health club members. This represents the 47% of total membership (Source: IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report).

4.     What percent of U.S. health club members use group exercise?

More than 2 out of five (43%) health club members participate in group exercise, according to the IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report. This amounts to roughly 22.1 million members.

5.     What percent of health club members use personal training?

Among health club members, roughly 12% use personal trainers. Most personal training users are between the ages of 18 and 44 (Source: IHRSA Health Club Consumer Report).

6.     Why do members join health clubs?

People more frequently cite the following two reasons for joining a health club: to stay healthy and stay in shape. Approximately half (49%) join to lose weight. (Source: IHRSA Trend Report)

7.     Why do members quit health clubs?

In quitting health clubs the economic aspect plays a relevant role: 44% of former members think it is too expensive to keep training in health clubs. Other factors include: location/convenience (people usually choose the closest club available), actual usage of membership (some members just do not show up enough and are no longer interested in membership) and other alternatives (exercising elsewhere for free). (Source: IHRSA Trend Report)

8.     Why do members stay at their health clubs?

According to the IHRSA Trend Report, apart from reaching personal fitness goals and a healthy status, members also continue using their health clubs for the variety of equipment and convenient location. Nearly half cite “the variety of equipment: both strength and cardiovascular (49%),” while a significant segment also cites a convenient location for continued usage (25%). 

9.     Why don’t people join health clubs?

The IHRSA Trend Report highlights cost as the number one barrier to joining: 58% of non-members cited this reason. More than one out of four (30%) of non-members select “I exercise somewhere else for free.” Nearly one out of five participate in an activity outside of the health club (19%).