Innovation & Growth Define Fitness Industry in 2018

    With another strong year in the books, we’re looking back on the fitness industry’s 2018 achievements, big and small.

    Now that 2018 has come to an end, another strong year for the fitness industry is in the books. Over the past 12 months, we learned that the global health club industry generated $87.2 billion, we made history when the PHIT Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, and we were flattered when Arnold Schwarzenegger touted the industry (and IHRSA) in an op/ed.

    But none of those impressive milestones could’ve happened without the work IHRSA member health clubs and suppliers are putting in each and every day. So we’re looking back on the year to highlight the wins—big and small—that have the fitness industry poised for an even better 2019.

    Fitness Industry Growth in 2018

    Clubs and suppliers of all sizes experienced growth in 2018, particularly by expanding their brands. In the Midwest, Genesis Health Clubs added to their 45-club business by embarking on a multimillion-dollar project that included a world-class aquatic center, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, a pre-school, and a brand-new luxury health club. And in St. Louis, Wellbridge Athletic Club & Spa opened a new $10 million, 40,000-square-foot facility to meet consumers’ evolving needs. Several global brands expanded their footprints, including Megatlon, which opened a new low-cost club concept in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    We also saw a number of acquisitions over the past year. Anytime Fitness' parent company Self Esteem Brands purchased Basecamp Fitness, a new high-energy fitness concept developed by the founder of Zappos. And in October, Xponential Fitness acquired Pure Barre, becoming the largest provider of boutique fitness in the world, according to a press release.

    More examples of fitness industry growth in 2018:

    Industry News Life Time Column

    A rendering of Life Time's $42 million club in Houston, TX.

    Fitness Industry Innovation in 2018

    Advances in technology and innovation continue to change consumer habits and business models, the fitness industry is no exception. Last year, several leading suppliers and clubs forged ahead with emerging technology.

    At IHRSA 2018, Les Mills International launched LES MILLS Virtual—an app that provides cinematic-quality content led by world-leading presenters, with scientifically proven fitness choreography and great music. In May, Life Fitness partnered with Equinox Fitness to bring the first Apple GymKit-enabled health club to Canada. And this summer, FitnessOnDemand (FOD) and STRONG by Zumba announced a partnership to bring the world favorite, high-intensity beat-synced workout to thousands of facilities worldwide through FOD’s virtual fitness platform.

    More evidence of tech innovation in 2018:

    Fitness Industry Generosity in 2018

    The fitness industry is often described as one big family, and 2018 proved once again that we have our members’, communities’, and each other’s backs.

    Clubs stepped up to help others affected by several natural disasters. After Hurricane Florence, Planet Fitness locations in eastern North Carolina kept their doors open to anyone in need of the facilities, and O2 Fitness in Wilmington, NC, hosted a benefit concert to raise money for those affected by the storm. As wildfires raged in Southern California, Stevenson Fitness welcomed firefighters to use their locker rooms and showers. Once mandatory evacuations lifted and the club reopened, it offered a free six-month membership to community members who lost their homes.

    Industry News Fitness Industry 2018 Stevenson Fitness Column

    Stevenson Fitness Owner Chris Stevenson and General Manager Marisa Hoff welcome firefighters. (Photo: Stevenson Fitness Facebook)

    Industry News Jim Worthington Un Column

    Jim Worthington at the United Nations Headquarters, where he spoke about inclusive fitness.

    Want to hear even more good news? The stories listed above hardly scratch the surface of the fitness industry’s accomplishments in the last year. The successes, partnerships, and good deeds of IHRSA club and supplier members are too many to count, but they each play a part in moving the industry forward.

    So, thank you for all that you do. Here’s to a successful 2019! We can’t wait to see what’s in store.

    Author avatar

    Marianne Aiello

    Marianne Aiello previously served as IHRSA's Senior Digital Content Manager—a position focused on crafting and monitoring IHRSA’s digital strategy and covering IHRSA events.