Gen Z will have a bigger impact on the fitness market than any generation before, presenting a transformative opportunity for clubs to drive record growth.
That’s according to “Gen Z Fitness: Cracking the Code” – a new global report examining Gen Z fitness habits, motivations to work out, and the barriers holding them back. The Les Mills report is the biggest-ever study into Gen Z fitness, combining insights from more than 4,000 young people aged 16 to 26 across North America, Europe and Asia.
Having helped shape a culture where fitness is a social media mainstay, Gen Z are frequently dubbed ‘Generation Active’ – 36% are already exercising regularly. But that’s the tip of the iceberg. A further 50% of Gen Z want to work out regularly but need help getting started. Nurturing this untapped market requires an understanding of the challenges they face. Among non-exercisers, 68% want to start working out at home, so being able to provide high-quality digital options is essential for clubs.
Often caricatured as smartphone-obsessed social media addicts, Gen Z are not to be underestimated. While it’s true they spend more time swiping than their elders (55% use phones 5+ hours per day), they’re also more socially conscious and health-focused than any generation before, with an enlightened view of fitness. This is a generation working out for mental wellness, intrinsic motivation and the chance to be part of a community.
Four of Gen Z’s top five reasons to exercise are linked to health and happiness, demonstrating a strong appreciation for the holistic benefits of activity. But they still want to look good, with 47% listing ‘improving their appearance’ as a key reason to work out. For club operators, providing choice for Gen Z is key to getting them through the front door. Of those working out regularly, 64% strongly agree they like to choose different workouts as well as discover new ones.
Understanding Gen Z’s motivations, goals and values is key to earning their loyalty in their 20s, when most people decide whether to join a gym. 30% of Gen Z are already regularly working out in fitness facilities – a far higher figure than the total adult population, which typically ranges between 15-25%, depending on the market. And with 50% of Gen Z yet to start regularly exercising, there’s a golden opportunity to engage more young people with club offerings that promote flexibility and choice.
With 72% of regular exercisers training both in and out of the gym, providing an Omnifitness experience (comprising both live and digital workouts) which suits their lifestyle is a must. And when clubs strike the right balance right, Gen Z will stick around. Hybrid trainers are 40% more likely to have been a gym member for 3+ years compared to gym-only exercisers. They also manage to do 67% more workouts than gym-only exercisers (5.5 per week on average vs. 3.3).
Despite digital fitness options being more prevalent than ever, the report finds strong Gen Z demand for working out with others. Of all regular exercisers, 82% are getting their sweat on in the gym (up from 64% in 2021).
Given their appetite for connection, it’s no surprise Gen Z are drawn to the supportive environment of the studio. 81% of Gen Z gym-goers take part in group workouts, citing the energy of the group, fast results and the guidance of an instructor as motivators.
Gen Z pay close attention to their wider wellness, with recovery and mindfulness group workouts featuring highly. Among Gen Z doing group workouts:
- 50% are doing strength training
- 35% are doing stretch / mobility
- 33% are doing yoga
When it comes to fitness apps, influencers are living up to their name. 71% of Gen Z use a fitness influencer’s free digital platform inside the club, while 76% look to influencers for guidance at home. Gen Z consider an influencer to be anyone who represents a brand they’re interested in – offering gyms significant opportunity to amplify their own star instructors. Shining a spotlight on the rockstars in your club’s team is a recipe for creating authentic content that showcases the connection Gen Z are looking for.
For more, access the free report to uncover the must-have numbers, insights, and recommendations for achieving sustained success by winning with Gen Z.