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Changing look of usage of council-owned fitness facilities

Changing look of usage of council-owned fitness facilities
May 27, 2021

Data analytics company ActiveXchange has released the results of its ongoing research, revealing what it calls the “new normal” for fitness facilities in public sector aquatic and recreation centres.

Advising that “COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we live and work”, ActiveXchange explain “while our earlier studies have shown that total visits are returning to previous levels , further investigation shows how member behaviour is different in 2021”.

Key changes include:

• Visitation patterns are changing.
• Retention indicators are shifting suggesting facilities need to pay closer attention needed to avoid losing members.
• Demographics are flux. The largest age group of participants needs greater attention. Another age group offers an opportunity for growth.

Visit Frequency
This metric offers key insights into member retention and industry health. Here’s how things have changed since 2019 with the impact of COVID-19:

• For Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia, the average attendance per month has decreased.
• Surprisingly - in Victoria, the hardest hit state - monthly visits per member have increased 10%.  
• South Australia has the highest percentage (15.5%) increase of monthly visits per member.

To better understand member behaviour, the reseach also looks at those who cancel. In varying degrees by state, the larger trend is for fewer visits in final month before cancellation.

Day Since Last Visit
Days since last a member last visited is a key indicator of how attractive a facility is, and a strong correlation can be made to facility’s member attrition rate.

In 2019, if on average a member did not visit for 61 days, that behaviour most likely would lead to cancellation. (Similar data trends were evident in previous years.)

• In 2021, member patterns in NSW and Queensland have not changed significantly.
• In South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, members wait longer before they cancel during 2021.
• Of note, in Victoria members cancel more quickly in 2021 than in previous years.

Pursuant to the previous chart, tracking visitation metrics is particularly important after COVID-19, in order to stay out ahead of cancellations and succeed in member retention.


In 2021, a significant trend has emerged in WA and OLD around a dramatic increase in time between visits. While such members have not yet cancelled, they should be considered a high-risk of cancellation as their behaviour is not predictable.

Membership Length 
This metric indicates what type of members are being retained.

While memberships numbers have gone down compared to pre-COVID numbers, average membership length has increased in all states, indicating more loyal members have stayed.

Lengths of cancelled memberships are a key indicator of what types of members are being lost.


• In NSW, membership lengths of cancellations have been remarkably stable.
• Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia show varying increases in length of cancelled memberships.
• Of note, in Victoria and Tasmania membership lengths of cancellations have increased significantly. This indicates a higher portion of loyal members have cancelled in these states.

This metric helps discover successes and deficiencies in marketing and programming operations. 

• Significantly, the 60+ age group growing by 1.92%.
• Of note, the largest member group - ages 20 to 40 - is falling by 0.54%. 
• Pursuant to the above, the median age has increased from 45 in 2019 to 46 in 2021.

The data above indicates opportunities to devise new strategies to engage 60+ age group within your membership … as well as capitalise on that trend to grow overall membership and revenue. 

The challenge indicated lies within retaining and rebuilding amongst the 20 to 40 year-old segment.

Moving forward, ActiveXchange continues to support aquatic and recreation operators across Australia and New Zealand. 

Related Articles

26th May 2021 - New global research highlights role of technology in the fitness industry

26th May 2021 - Les Mills International shares advice on ways clubs can convert digital fitness fans into members

11th May 2021 - ActiveXchange partners with Royal Life Saving to deliver water safety data

29th April 2021 - Australian College of Physical Education and ActiveXchange announce partnership agreement

29th March 2021 - ActiveXchange reveals new initiatives as part of Federal Government-backed scale-up

26th February 2021 - Global Leisure Group teams with ActiveXchange and SportsEye New Zealand

11th February 2021 - ActiveXchange market intelligence shows members quick to cancel unused memberships

14th December 2020 - ActiveXchange puts data analytics at the fingertips of 18 NSW sporting bodies

30th November 2020 - ActiveXchange highlights the need for targeted and collaborative efforts to meet financial challenges

5th November 2020 - ActiveXchange’s data analysis to expand VICSWIM program and help children get back to swimming

7th September 2020 - ActiveXchange and the SportsEye Network’s work to be enhanced by Federal Government funding

20th August 2020 - ActiveXchange leadership appointments look to drive expansion and growth

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