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More Americans Planning to Join or Rejoin Health Clubs

Consumers are ready to invest in their fitness again, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association’s (SGMA) State of the Industry Report for 2011.

In an online survey of more than 38,000 people conducted for SGMA by Sports Marketing Surveys, 36 percent of respondents said they planned to spend more in joining or rejoining health clubs over the next 12 months. The figure is up 23 percent from last year.

The authors of the SGMA report conjectured that the expected boost could be the result of pent-up demand due to reduced spending on sports, fitness and recreation in 2010. Twenty-two percent of survey respondents said they had reduced their expenditures on things such as health club memberships and fitness or sports instruction in the previous year. Another 15 percent said they had delayed spending in those areas altogether.

The report also gave some insight to what fitness activities could be most popular as more people join and rejoin health clubs. Using a variety of market data, SGMA researchers predicted the growth potential for 20 sports and fitness activities. Of traditional club-centered activities, squash and yoga showed the greatest potential for growth, with projected rises of 52 percent and 42 percent, respectively, by 2015. High impact (35 percent) and step (33 percent) aerobics, running (31 percent), cardio kickboxing (26 percent) and group stationary cycling (22 percent) rounded out the list.

Clubs that want to attract members that are new to exercise may want to invest in their aquatic facilities and programming, according to the report. Responding to a question about what activities in which they would be most likely to participate, swimming ranked in the top three for all age groups of those who described themselves as currently inactive. Other top “aspirational activities” included weight training, working out using machines and cycling.

Sales of fitness equipment show that facilities are preparing for their new and returning members. After a dip from $1.041 billion in 2008 to $970 million in 2009, institutional fitness equipment sales rose to $1.023 billion in 2010.

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