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Consumers Plan to Spend More on Fitness in 2011

If your club is considering making changes to its pricing structure this year, you might want to read this article first.

Consumers plan to spend an average of $131 per month in 2011 for a gym membership; most (94 percent) say this is the same or more than they spent last year, according to a survey by American Express. Likewise, the majority intend to spend the same or more on personal trainers (73 percent) and specialty fitness programs, such as Pilates or boot camp classes (71 percent).

The annual American Express survey, the American Express Spending and Saving Tracker, details consumer spending expectations.

The online survey was based on a random sampling of more than 2,000 adults, and the results were assessed according to total respondents as well as two subgroups: the affluent (those with a minimum annual household income of $100,000) and young professionals (defined as under 30 years of age with a college degree and a minimum annual household income of $50,000).

In terms of general spending on fitness and health products and services, 70 percent of the respondents said that they expected to spend more or the same in 2011 compared to 2010. The young professionals say they are the most likely to open their wallets—nearly four in 10 of them have plans to spend more on health and fitness this year than last year.

Although the young professionals group was more likely to increase spending on fitness this year than the affluent group or the general population, the amount they expect to pay for gym memberships is significantly lower than for either of these populations at an average of $85 per month.

Although the vast majority of respondents said that they did not plan to cut back on health and fitness spending, only the young professionals group said that exercising more and losing weight were as big a priority for them this year as last year. Among the general population, 35 percent said they intended to exercise more (down from 40 percent last year) and 28 percent said they planned to lose weight (down 7 percent from 2010).

Healthy pursuits have become even less of a priority for the affluent group—last year 48 percent of them planned to exercise more and 39 percent wanted to lose weight, but those numbers dropped to 37 percent and 32 percent, respectively, in 2011.

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