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Gym Memberships Continue to Rise, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), 55.3 million Americans had health club memberships as of 2015, representing an annual growth rate of 3.3% since 2012.  In addition, 9.1 million non-members exercised at health clubs, bringing total health club usage to a record 64.4 million.

Competition among fitness clubs of all types is fierce.  The IHRSA reported that one in six members quit their clubs looking for cheaper fitness alternatives.  24 Hour Fitness is one of the largest fitness chains, with almost 4 million members in more than 400 clubs in 13 U.S. states as of 2017.  LA Fitness (Fitness International LLC) had more than 800 locations in 2017 in the U.S. and Canada.  Life Time Fitness, Inc., which has 137 centers in the U.S. and Canada (many open 24 hours per day), was acquired by private equity firms Leonard Green & Partners LP and TPG Capital in 2015.

The big fitness chains compete with smaller niche exercise options, including SoulCycle LLC, CrossFit, Barry’s Bootcamp and any number of yoga studios such as YogaWorks and CorePower Yoga.  These businesses typically have more expensive monthly fees than traditional gyms, while offering a high level of specialty classes such as indoor cycling, yoga and pilates, and personal attention.  Members enjoy fitness experiences tailored to their interests an appreciate being part of a community of like-minded athletes.

Another alternative to traditional gyms is Planet Fitness, a chain of gyms targeting first-time and occasional users with its branded Judgement Free Zone workout areas.  The firm opened its 1,000th club in June 2015.  Then there’s ClassPass, which offers unlimited fitness classes at a variety of different clubs and studios.  Many cities offer municipal recreation centers with low-cost fitness activities.  Nonprofit YMCAs and YWCAs are other competitors.

Paid internet exercise programs have proved challenging for producers and investors.  Several highly-touted sites which offered streaming workouts shut down in 2015-16.  These include,, and  Popular at-home DVD workout producer BeachBody still offered streaming access to all of its programs for a monthly fee as of mid-2076.  Meanwhile, YouTube offers countless exercise videos free of charge. 



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