Latest News

Back to Latest News back


IHRSA survey highlights users’ sentiments on the essential role of fitness clubs

IHRSA survey highlights users’ sentiments on the essential role of fitness clubs
November 22, 2020

A new survey undertaken by the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) – ‘The COVID Era Fitness Consumer’ discusses American health club user sentiment and behaviour prior to, during, and after facility closures due to COVID-19.

The ‘COVID Era Fitness Consumer’ is a report based on a study of 1,171 American health club members aged 18 and over who currently have a gym membership, or recently cancelled their gym membership due to COVID-19. The survey was conducted online during the period of 24th to 28th August 2020, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.9%.

The ‘COVID Era Fitness Consumer’ shows how important health clubs are to the fitness and well-being of their members. Users clearly missed their brick-and-mortar fitness clubs as these hubs for physical activity and community were closed for several weeks, if not months.

During club closures, nearly all (95%) users missed at least one aspect of physically being at their health club. 59% said they missed their gyms and fitness centres a lot and overall, the only activity members indicated missing more than their health clubs was visiting loved ones (65%). As a comparison, fewer Americans indicated missing going to concerts or games (55%), bars or restaurants (51%), or seeing movies in theatres (46%).

As gyms closed due to COVID-19, members were forced to change up their routines. While some became creative with at-home workouts, others continued to struggle, as for them,nothing quite compares to being in the gym. Health club and gym users look forward to returning to their gym—and the routines and friendly faces they associate with it—as they push to reach their personal fitness goals.

While at-home workouts have satisfied some, many feel they’re no match for the health club experience. They’re taking note of and are satisfied with the safety precautions their club is taking, leaving many feeling ready to hit the gym again—if they haven’t done so already.

Over pandemic-related shutdowns, an overwhelming majority of fitness club users admitted their routine had changed (85%). A majority went for outdoor walks or runs more often (53%), while some streamed exercise videos at home (33%), and others purchased fitness equipment (29%).

However, 50% of gym goers are dissatisfied with their new fitness routines with 54% finding them less challenging and 53% - less consistent.

95% of nearly all club users miss at least one aspect of physically being at their gym with three things consumers miss about their club including 42% miss working out with other people; 36% miss the sense of community that comes with belonging to a gym and 26% miss having people at the gym cheering them on through a workout.

The report suggests that while it seems there are stressors everywhere in 2020, COVID-19 has been a dominant source of anxiety and worry for millions of Americans. As a result, many are feeling more stressed now than they did at the start of the year - agonising over the state of the world, their communities, and themselves. Many have found that activities like reading, cooking, and, above all, exercising have offered them a way to cope with such a trying time in their lives.

53% of those who have returned to their gym since it reopened say one of their goals in having a membership is to elevate their mood versus 44% of those who have not returned.

Not only do members feel positively about returning to the gym—many feel ready and motivated to do so. They look forward to the physical and mental benefits of working out at their gym again, from building strength and their immune system, improving their flexibility to releasing mood-boosting endorphins. Another significant segment uses their health clubs to maintain (47%) or lose weight (46%).

88% members who have returned to the gym since it reopened express complete confidence in safety precautions and cleanliness procedures. Consumers trust their health clubs to create a clean and safe environment for members and are satisfied with the measures taken already, allowing many to return to their fitness routine with confidence.

More than two-thirds of gym members are aware of the safety measures their gym is taking as part of their reopening strategies (69%). Just as many (69%) feel confident in protocols their gym is putting into practice than those who feel the same about retailers (67%), coffee shops (67%), and indoor dining (62%).

The COVID Era Fitness Consumer shows how important health clubs are to the fitness and well-being of their members. Users clearly missed their brick-and-mortar fitness clubs as these hubs for physical activity and community were closed for several weeks, if not months. Having a membership is tied to the personal goals consumers aim to achieve in life and they trust in the safety protocols fitness centres have implemented.

Now, more than ever, health clubs play an essential role in promoting physical, mental and emotional wellness.

To download IHRSA's ‘COVID Era Fitness Consumer’ report click here

Related Articles

6th March 2020 - IHRSA publication seeks Fitness Industry support for Global Goals

22nd January 2020 - SportsArt named as IHRSA 2020 Associate Member of the Year

9th January 2020 - IHRSA Passport Program aims to provide easy and affordable access to gyms worldwide

16th August 2019 - IHRSA announces collaboration with World Wellness Weekend third edition

4th July 2019 - IHRSA provides guidance on children in gyms

1st June 2019 - IHRSA reports Health Club Membership to reach 230 million members by 2030

25th April 2019 - IHRSA analysis emphasises why fitness clubs need small group training

31st January 2019 - MINDBODY named 2019 IHRSA Associate Member of the Year

2nd January 2019 - IHRSA highlights role of fitness clubs in supporting all needs and abilities

31st December 2018 - IHRSA resource Gives Clubs Tools to Help Members Lose Weight

30th November 2018 - IHRSA report shows China as the fastest growing fitness market in the Asia-Pacific region

6th June 2018 - IHRSA Report shows 22 million members at fitness clubs across key Asia-Pacific markets

15th May 2017 - IHRSA shows growth in US fitness club memberships and revenues

26th May 2016 - IHRSA reports ongoing growth in global fitness industry

4th February 2016 - IHRSA releases new fitness club resources

2nd February 2015 - IHRSA launches global health club survey

8th August 2013 - IHRSA conducts Asia-Pacific fitness club survey

4th March 2010 - IHRSA Highlights Green Fitness Initiatives

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


ICP is an Australian-based company focused on indoor climbing. ICP will manage your project from initial design to completion and beyond, whether you're building an international-level climbing…

read more

Attractions / Fitness / Recreation



Vticket Pty Ltd is the Australian and New Zealand distributor for Gateway Ticketing Systems Inc., the world leader in high-speed access control, admission control and ticketing software for the…

read more

Attractions / Security / Technology / Ticketing / Venues



AUSTRALIAN MADE. FIT FOR PURPOSE. AlphaFit is a 100% Australian owned family company manufacturing gear specifically for the strength and conditioning, functional fitness and high-performance…

read more

Fitness / Recreation / Sport / Technology / Wellness



SLE Worldwide Australia is a Managing General Underwriter specialising in insuring risks in the world of Sports, Leisure and Entertainment. Be it relaxing, playing, organising or watching sports,…

read more

Insurance / Venues


Centaman Entrance Control

Turnstile Entry Systems and Access Control Centaman Entrance Controls’ Award Winning Range of Access Control Systems includes tripod & triarm turnstiles, speedgates, full height…

read more

Access / Entertainment / Sport / Ticketing / Venues



With its sleek good looks and easy-to-use yet powerful functionality, Envibe is the premium fitness club software for the Australasian leisure, recreation and fitness industry. We are the most…

read more

Aquatics / Fitness / Recreation / Technology



Humanforce is a global provider of workforce management solutions for companies who need flexibility to manage complex workforces. Companies use Humanforce to manage everything from time and…

read more

Hospitality / Retail / Technology / Venues



Technogym is the leading company in the Wellness and Fitness field all over the world. With 2,200 employees, 14 branches in Europe, U.S., South America, Asia  and Australia, Technogym exports its…

read more

Fitness / Technology / Wellness


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business