The Fitness Industry Is Growing Faster Than the Overall US Economy

By Adriaan Brits Saturday, August 8, 2020

Over the last couple of years, people worldwide have become more self-aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. Because of this, the fitness industry has blossomed into one of the leading industries in the US. Amid the looming recession, the fitness industry had a remarkable growth since 2019. According to research from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), the global health and fitness industry is predicted to grow to “230 million health club members worldwide by 2030.”

The IHRSA also reports that, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the fitness industry was on a fast track to exceeding future expectations, with the constant growth of 3-4% annually for the last ten years. Their research has shown that over 20% of US adults have a fitness membership, and a further 10% require additional personal trainers, paying for them at extra cost.

While the pandemic has slowed the industry’s unprecedented growth, Executive Vice President of Global Products at IHRSA, Jay Ablondi, states that “the global health and fitness club industry will continue to recover as the industry reopens and is positioned to prosper in the years to come.”

Man working out at home.

What Is Driving This Boom?

It’s not just because new gyms are popping up on every street - several important factors are fueling this dynamic.

Health Insurance

It’s no secret that healthy people cost less to insure; this is why employers have realized that they can cut insurance costs by implementing healthy lifestyles. Many insurance companies have also started a point system, where you can collect a few points if you maintain a healthy lifestyle. This results in a discount on your insurance.

Demand for Healthy Foods

Many grocers have moved away from processed food to more organic/ plant-based foods. The switch is causing people across the country to be more conscious of what they put in their mouths. Healthy foods ultimately cause people to be more fitness-orientated, as well.

Health-Orientated Apps

Devices such as Fitbit, Garmin, and Apple Watch are putting personalized biometric health statistics at everyone’s fingertips.

People’s ability to see how many calories they have burned, how much sleep they’re getting, their heart rate, and their blood pressure are making them much more in sync with their body and what their body needs. Experts speculate that if the fitness industry continues the trajectory of 8.7% in revenue, we should reach $99.9 billion in 2021.

How the Fitness Industry Manages to Stay on Top

Goldman Sachs, an investment banking company, reported how younger generations, more so, millennials are looking to exercise more often, eat smarter and healthier food with the number of smokers decreasing from previous generations. Millennials are looking to spend more money on compelling brands and foodstuff which they can associate their lifestyle with.

Younger generations, especially millennials, are more prone to use fitness apps, and records have shown that women use it twice as much as their male counterparts. Fitness development software companies have noted that around 46% of users want to know as much as possible about their daily health routine, and remarkably, 54% purchasing better and longer-lasting body-analyzing devices.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed in 2015 that nearly 40% of US adults over the age of 20 were obese. These numbers weighed out against the standard weight-to-height measurements or BMI. The research done by the CDC has shed more light on how the fitness industry has managed to quickly gain massive traction in the last decade.

The Future of the Industry in the US

The pendulum swings both ways. With the rise of obesity and cardiovascular disease, the need for healthy living and fitness clubs will continue to become an integral service for many as they seek to change their lifestyle choices. Fitness companies that adapt to consumers’ needs (e.g., personal trainers who will specialize in special populations and more cardio exercises) should find security over the long term.

Although most fitness clubs or gym members are between the ages of 18 and 44, the IHRSA has shown that most active members are those over 35. US adults over the age of 55 only manage to make 25% of the health-club members. American Sports Data has managed to give more understanding about the industry and how it functions, as the company has been one of the fastest-growing segments for U.S. health-clubs since 1998.

Older generations may only make a quarter of active members, the number of yearly visits has increased by 33%, while the same is seen with adults between 18 and 44 as it increased by 13%.

As healthcare costs increase, consumers start to realize that it is more economical to invest time and money into health and fitness, rather than spending money on the aftermath of their unhealthy choices. A healthier economy, rising per capita income, and the over the decline of unemployment has meant great triumphs for the industry. People have more disposable income and are rapidly seeking ways to change their lifestyles.

In a 2015 revenue review, IBISWorld reported that the U.S. gym and fitness franchise industry had annual revenue of $3 billion. The current figure shows some promising prospects, and many have already shared how the fitness industry is growing faster than the economy it is thriving in.

About the Author


Headshot of author Adriaan Brits

As an analyst of global affairs, Adriaan has an MSC from Oxford, with diverse interests in the digital economy, entertainment, and business. He is a specialist trainer in Advanced Analytics & Media.

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