Club market primed, Americans more interested in getting fit, IHRSA survey says

Fitness is increasingly more essential to the public, a survey commissioned by IHRSA has found. Every three years, the non-profit club association IHRSA conducts the survey to gauge the U.S. health club market. Based on this year's results, it said the market is primed as never before.
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Fitness is increasingly more essential to the public, a survey commissioned by IHRSA has found. Every three years, the non-profit club association IHRSA conducts the survey to gauge the U.S. health club market. Based on this year's results, it said the market is primed as never before.

The results show that 89 percent of Americans say that "becoming more physically fit" is either essential or important to them, up from 81 percent in the 2001 survey, and 86 percent say "getting enough exercise" is essential or important, up from 83 percent in the 2001 survey. Also, 85 percent say "maintaining their weight" is essential or important, and 73 percent say "losing weight" is essential or important.

The survey also found that women are more likely than men to say that "fitness is essential." Sixty-two percent of women, compared to 56 percent of men, say that maintaining good physical health is essential. Thirty-seven percent of women, versus 34 percent of men, say that getting enough exercise is essential. Also, 36 percent of women versus 24 percent of men say losing weight is essential, while 42 percent of women compared to 24 percent of men say "maintaining my weight is essential."

Conversely, men are more satisfied than women with the physical aspects of their lives -- 72 percent say "I am completely or somewhat satisfied with my appearance" compared to 60 percent of women. IHRSA concluded that "women continue to be a more ripe target for membership than men."

The research also found that 87 percent of Americans say that regular exercise plays a "major role" in keeping Americans healthy. Sixty percent say that regular exercise is more important than regular doctor visits. Also, a sedentary lifestyle is now considered to be "unhealthy" by 70 percent of Americans, as compared with 62 percent of Americans who consider 3 or more alcoholic drinks per day unhealthy, 72 percent that consider smoking everyday unhealthy, and 74 percent who consider being overweight unhealthy.

More than 400 of the total 1,415 randomly selected Americans who responded say they were health club members. When asked why they first joined, 63 percent (of the 400) say they needed a place to exercise, 79 percent say they needed to get in shape, 74 percent say they needed to stay in shape, and 54 percent say they needed to lose weight. The study also found that they tend to be more proactive in all aspects of their lives than the general population: 60 percent work overtime, 55 percent do volunteer work, 41 percent take educational classes, 65 percent attend religious services and 94 percent read books. IHRSA said that health club members comprise an American "elite."

Relative to 2001, IHRSA said that there was a significant jump in the percentage of health club members who said that working out regularly is "important to their emotional well-being" -- 25 percent in 2001 compared to 45 percent in 2004.

When asked how regular exercise effects them psychologically, health club members differ significantly from non-members (numbers of non-members in parentheses): regular exercise gives me more energy, 57 percent (37 percent); regular exercise increases my self-confidence, 61 percent (35 percent); regular exercise enhances my overall outlook on life, 55 percent (36 percent); regular exercise helps me feel more in control of my life, 52 percent (37 percent); regular exercise reduces my stress levels, 51 percent (29 percent); and regular exercise enhances my physical appearance, 63 percent (38 percent).

The survey was conducted by Ketchum Worldwide for IHRSA between Sept. 21-24, 2004. Ketchum interviewed 1,415 randomly selected American citizens, 18 years of age and older.

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