India's Health Club Industry: 3 Key Challenges & Opportunities

India ranks fifth in market size among Asia-Pacific health club markets, leaving considerable space for opportunities to increase memberships and accessibility to more fitness clubs.

Home to one of the global economic powers, the health club market in India is among the largest in the Asia-Pacific region. India ranks fifth in market size among Asia-Pacific health club markets at $821 billion in annual revenue (USD). The number of health club locations ranks third in the region at 3,813 sites, while the country’s 2 million members ranks fifth among observed markets.

Although the health club market in India is robust compared to other Asia-Pacific markets, the club industry in India lags behind that of other developed economies. In terms of industry revenue, number of members, and number of clubs, India ranks outside of the top 10, according to the 2018 IHRSA Global Report. Considering this, India has at least three key areas to grow as a global health club market leader.

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1. Improve penetration rate.

Only 0.15% of the Indian population between the ages of 15 and 64 belongs to a health club. The penetration rate for India is the lowest in the world among markets observed, behind Thailand (0.50%), Honduras (0.36%), El Salvador (0.31%), and the Philippines (0.18%).

One of the reasons India has the lowest penetration rate mainly has to do with the large population of India and the supply of clubs mostly concentrated in larger urban areas and top-tier cities. As leading club operators expand into tier-two and tier-three cities, access to health clubs should increase for Indians across the country. Increased accessibility should help move the needle on India’s penetration rate.

2. Attract consumers of all ages.

According to The IHRSA Asia-Pacific Health Club Report (Second Edition), approximately 70% of health club consumers in India are between the ages of 20 and 40. As a comparison, IHRSA’s Health Club Consumer Report shows that approximately half of health club consumers in the U.S. are between the ages of 18 to 44. Attracting older members and children into utilizing health clubs and fitness centers may help the industry in India grow, along with the penetration rate.

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Due to the transient lifestyle of most young adults, they are more likely to have higher attrition rates than older members. Industry experts estimate India’s member attrition rate to be as high as 80%, which is possibly impacted by the younger adult makeup of membership. Older adults, on the other hand, tend to remain members longer than younger adults.

3. Address lifestyle-related conditions.

Increasing incidence rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other lifestyle-related conditions have raised awareness of health and fitness among Indian consumers. Over 20% of all adults and over 14.4 million children and adolescents are considered obese. Unhealthy lifestyles—such as the consumption of junk food, sedentary work environments, and increased mobility automation—have significantly contributed to lifestyle-related diseases.

Health club operators are uniquely positioned to help Indians exercise regularly and engage in healthy behavior. In efforts to increase physical activity and improve the health of Indians, the United Health & Fitness Forum (UHFF) was formed in 2016. Led by top club operators in India, UHFF and its members organize events such as training workshops, boot camps, walkathons, and group exercise classes, along with other health and fitness initiatives.

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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.