Despite the doom and gloom of the current shopping season for fitness, sales of home exercise equipment jumped again in 2006, reaching $3.54 billion in wholesale dollars or up about 5 percent over the previous year.
The numbers are part of the latest annual fitness market study, "Tracking the Fitness Movement," done by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association. Sales in the previous year were up about 6 percent, showing two years of the strongest gains in the last decade.
According to the SGMA report, treadmills still top the list in categories in home use sales with $1.0 billion in wholesale sales. Ellipticals are next with $725 million and all exercise bikes are next with $400 million.
Institutional sales still are only less than a third of all home sales -- accounting for $1.12 billion in 2006, with treadmills at the top with $250 million in sales and ellipticals sneaking in behind with $212 million. In addition, club membership has grown regularly, hitting 42.7 million in 2006, up from 32.8 million in 2000.
Women are still leading the charge when it comes to working out: Of the 21 activities surveyed, women account for half or more of total participants in 15 of them.
When it comes to level of commitment, the frequent user, someone who exercises at least 100 times a year, is 49 percent female with the average age among all being 43. Although women stay just ahead of men among both regular participants (50-99 days a year) and casual participants (one to 49 days a year), the average age overall drops -- regulars average 37, while casual participants are 34.
Turns out aging baby boomers aren't the only fitness walkers and treadmill users out there either: The report found the three top fitness activities for those age 25 to 34 were walking for fitness, free weights and treadmills. Among the 40-plus set, the most popular activities were treadmill exercise (average age 40.7), water exercise (41.6), stationary cycling (42.7) and fitness walking (42.8).
Research for the report was done for SGMA's Sports Research Partnership by Sports Marketing Surveys. This year the survey was done online for the first time to improve accuracy. It surveyed more than 60,000 people who are members of a survey panel maintained by Synovate. Surveys were done in late January and early February 2007. A new weighting technique was also used to balance the data to better reflect the total U.S. population.
The SGMA's annual report is free to association members. The report or information about getting the report is at www.sgma.com.