Industry Figures Remained Steady in 2009

BOSTON -- Revenue and membership numbers in the U.S. health club industry remained about the same in 2009 as they were in 2008 while the number of clubs decreased slightly, according to statistics released today by the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA).

Total industry revenues increased by 2 percent to $19.5 billion in 2009 compared to $19.1 billion in 2008, according to the association. IHRSA annually compiles industry revenues, taking into account the total number of members, total club revenues, and average membership and non-dues fees.

In 2009, the industry had 45.3 million members, down slightly from the 45.5 million members in 2008. The decrease is “statistically insignificant,” IHRSA says, because the survey margin of error is 4 percent. Compared to previous years, membership has remained statistically the same since 2004, IHRSA says. Club attendance, however, increased to an average of 102 days in 2009. The average was 89 visits in 2008.

The number of health clubs decreased by less than 1 percent from 30,022 in 2008 to 29,750 in 2009, according to InfoUSA Inc. and IHRSA estimates. InfoUSA Inc. provides data related to the total number of club units using the industry’s SIC code of 7991.

IHRSA says the recession caused consolidation of club locations and the closure of weaker performing clubs while new club locations emerged in underserved markets. The rise of niche and theme-oriented facilities impacted 2009 survey results as well, according to the association.

The increase in revenues was due to increases in health club usage and non-dues spending, according to IHRSA.

“Increased usage is typically associated with increased spending in non-dues related items, such as personal training, lessons, juice bars and other services,” says Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global products. “In spite of the tough economy, consumers visited their health clubs more often, not only to improve their health but to relieve stress. The 2009 numbers demonstrate, once again, the important role the health club industry plays in society.”

Of the 45.3 million health club members, about 23 percent, or 10.4 million members, were new. In addition, 7.2 million consumers used a health club as nonmembers in 2009.

“Consistently attracting new consumers and serving nonmembers expands the industry’s reach, which contributes to the growing market size and capacity of the industry,” says Melissa Rodriguez, IHRSA’s research manager. All told, members frequented U.S. health clubs for a total of 4.6 billion visits.

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