Club Membership Exceeds 50 Million in 2010


Health club membership in the United States jumped 10.8 percent to 50.2 million in 2010 from 45.3 million in 2009, the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) said today.

The results, which Rick Caro alluded to in the annual financial panel at last month’s IHRSA show in San Francisco, are from IHRSA’s annual health club membership survey, which was conducted this past January.

IHRSA also reports that total industry revenues were $20.3 billion in 2010, up 4 percent from 2009, and that the number of health clubs increased slightly from 29,750 in 2009 to 29,890 in 2010. The total number of health club consumers (a combination of members and nonmember users and visitors) were 58 million in 2010, a 10.4 percent increase from 52.6 million in 2009.

This is the first significant increase in membership IHRSA has reported in five years. From 2006 to 2009, membership was between 45 million and 46 million each year.

“One year does not constitute a trend, but it is certainly a positive sign that 2010 saw real membership growth after four years of treading water,” says Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global products. “The health club industry has weathered the economic storm of the past few years better than many other industries.”

The number of nonmembers who visited health clubs was 7.8 million in 2010, an increase of 8.2 percent from 7.2 million nonmembers in 2009, IHRSA says.

“Economic indicators show that consumers were very price-sensitive with respect to health club membership dues,” says Melissa Rodriguez, IHRSA’s research manager. “With increased traffic, clubs added value to memberships and offered quality ancillary services, for which consumers were more willing to pay premium dollars.”

Member usage declined from 102.4 days in 2009 to 97.5 visits in 2010, according to the IHRSA survey. Overall average attendance for both members and nonmembers also dropped from 90.9 visits in 2009 to 87.2 visits in 2010. (IHRSA says the decline in average usage can be attributed to new members who typically are young and casual users.) On average, nonmembers used health clubs for 28.3 visits in 2010 compared with an average of 26.3 visits in 2009.

According to IHRSA, a total of 38,742 online interviews were conducted for the survey with a nationwide sample of individuals and households from the U.S. Online Panel, operated by Synovate. A total of 15,086 individual and 23,656 household surveys were completed. IHRSA arrived at the total number of health clubs through the use of InfoUSA Inc., which provides data related to the total number of club units using the industry’s SIC code of 7991, as listed under the Yellow Pages.

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