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3 Key Stats Show Role Health Clubs Play in Safeguarding Health

Did health club members stay active while the club was closed? Are they ready to return? Insights from four key global fitness markets provide some answers.

Will they return? Will they use a health club, gym or studio to exercise? Have they adapted to exercising outside of a fitness facility? These are some of the questions every health club, gym, or studio operator asks themselves as they strive towards business as usual.

Insights from four key global fitness markets provide some answers. Three takeaways attest to the critical role health clubs play in making the world a healthier and more active place. The markets—the U.S., Spain, Poland, and India—combined account for 74.8 million members, representing 41% of total members across the globe.

Here are the three takeaways, based on reports done on each region.

1. A large majority of health club members plan to return.

In all four countries, the majority of health club-goers plan to return once their clubs reopen. Although the percentage varies across countries, collectively, nearly seven out of 10 club users in the U.S., Spain, Poland, and India plan to return to their health and fitness centers.

65% of members in the U.S. plan to rejoin their health clubs.

As many as 91% of health clubs and studios were closed over the course of statewide shutdowns in the U.S., according to ABC Financial data. After a long layoff from working out at a health club, nearly two-thirds of members plan to rejoin their clubs in the U.S. Based on an MXM shutdown survey of nearly 150,000 members, 65.7% indicated that they would likely rejoin their health & fitness facility.

65 percent Graphics COVID 19 Impact Research

60% of health club-goers in India plan to return to their fitness facilities post-lockdown.

In India, countrywide shutdowns from the pandemic have lasted for weeks, preventing 2 million health club members from accessing their health and fitness centers. Based on an India Active survey of 12,205 consumers, 60% of health club-goers in India reported that they would return post-lockdown. Slightly more than half of members (52%) indicated that they would return as soon as their health club, gym or studio reopened, while 8% planned to return after one month.

66% of health club consumers in Poland plan to use their clubs when they reopen.

In Poland, where businesses are starting to reopen after weeks of pandemic-related restrictions, 3 million health club users were limited in engaging in physical activity. Based on a survey of 800 fitness consumers conducted by the Polish Fitness Federation, two-thirds of gym-goers indicated an intention to return within a month after clubs have met safety standards for reopening.

88% of members in Spain plan to rejoin their health clubs.

Members in Spain place a high value on exercising at their health clubs. Management Around Sports (MAS) conducted a COVID-19 survey of more than 8,000 Spanish health club members. An overwhelming majority (88%) of members in Spain reported an intention to return when their clubs reopened.

2. Members were less active whilst clubs were closed.

57 percent Graphics COVID 19 Impact Research

Across all countries, health club members reported decreased levels of physical activity while their health and fitness facilities were closed. According to the Physical Activity Council, 57% of health club users in the United States reported a decline in exercise and physical activity over March and April as clubs were shut down. Prior to the lockdown in India, 78% of health club-goers exercised at least four days a week; during the lockdown, that number shrank to 44% of consumers.

In Europe, physical activity among health club users also declined while clubs were shut down. Seven out of 10 gym-goers in Poland reported decreased physical activity while facilities were closed. In Spain, only 42% of health club members reported engaging in moderate physical activity at least four days a week during shutdowns.

3. Health club members depend on their fitness facilities for better health and well-being.

Now, more than ever, healthy habits, including regular exercise, are critical for overall well-being and heightened immunity. Health club members are aware of the benefits of regular activity along with the vital role their fitness centers play in safeguarding health. In the U.S., only 35% of health club members were confident that they could maintain exercise while their clubs were closed, barring them from engaging in regular activity for better health and immunity. In India, 91% of health club members believe that fitness plays a vital role in boosting immunity and protection against infectious diseases. Virtually all health club members in India (96%) indicate missing their workouts at the gym.

96 percent Graphics COVID 19 Impact Research

In Spain and Poland, members indicate the importance of their health clubs, gyms, and studios in maintaining better health. Physical appearance ranks behind the benefits of overall well-being as a motivation for exercising at a fitness center. In both countries, the number reason for using their health and fitness facilities is to improve fitness and health.

Reports from these four key global fitness markets are clear: a majority of health club users intend to return to their health and fitness facilities when they reopen. Physical activity declined while fitness centers were closed, and consumers rely on their clubs, gyms, and studios to engage in regular exercise.

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Melissa Rodriguez

As IHRSA's Senior Research Manager, Melissa Rodriguez oversees research initiatives for the health club consumer, club operations, and international markets. The best part of her job is helping members better understand how IHRSA research can help them improve and expand their business. When she's not analyzing data and statistics, Melissa enjoys spending time with family, watching superhero series, poring over NBA and NFL box scores, and reading a good book.