- The average gym has about 1,600 members in the U.S.
- The number of gym-goers per gym depends on various factors, such as gym density.
- China has the highest number of members per gym in the world, north of 2,500 members per gym.
Gyms are increasing in popularity as the world shifts to a healthier and more sustained lookout on life. That said, most gyms are already filled to the brim, so where are these people supposed to go?
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In 2022, around 70 million Americans attended a gym, meaning each gym had around 1,600 members in the USA.
But let’s talk more about gyms and their memberships!
Gyms: Are They Really Growing?
I mentioned earlier (and in other articles) that gyms and the fitness industry — as a whole — are booming. We have more competition than ever before, social media has programmed fitness into us all, and we’re finally seeing science supporting what we’ve said for years: your physical health matters.
But is that really the case when we look at statistics? Are there really more gym members than there were last year? And are people even happy with their current gyms?
What the Statistics Say
- Firstly, the gym industry is one of the largest in the world. A Global Health and Fitness Association’s (IHRSA) report supports this claim, as in 2019, the health and gym industry had a $96.7 billion revenue.
- The country with the most revenue was the USA, gathering a total of $35 billion in revenue in 2019. In second place was a tie between the UK and Germany.
- Even the supplement market seems to be booming, as 77% of all Americans took some sort of supplement, and the whole vitamin and supplement market was worth $35.6 billion in 2022.
- When looking at Google stats, the term “gym membership” had seen progress and an increase in popularity since 2004 and only really dropped when COVID struck. The term “gym near me” has increased in popularity in a similar fashion.
- According to Forbes, there are various reasons why people are actually still eager to work out, chief amongst which being health (I didn’t see that one coming).
- According to IBISWorld, despite the lockdown hitting the industry hard, it’s been increasing in popularity again since.
So, yes, gyms are really still growing. That said, not without their issues.
There are multiple problems gyms face when getting new members, including:
- Streaming services and other leisurely activities — such as gaming — have taken a lot of free time from the average person.
- Membership fees are still too high for some to actually use the facilities.
- The busy lives we live still make it hard for some to find 20 – 30 minutes daily to exercise.
- While certainly not the biggest issue, lots of people have opened their own at-home gyms as a result of COVID.
As you can see, it’s pretty darn apparent that there are multiple reasons why people would not want to be going to the gym, regardless of the benefits. Even taking this into consideration, gym revenue is still growing.
How is that even possible?
How Are Gyms Still Making Money?
While it may seem like there are new gyms opening on every corner, the state of the economy and inflation means people have to be cutting corners somewhere, right? Gyms usually don’t only rely on members to make money.
They can also make money in the following ways:
- Franchising: Branching out and purchasing land that a franchisee then needs to rent from you or simply buying buildings as the base for the gym.
- Other businesses: You may have been to gyms that have smoothie bars or even full-blown restaurants within. Sometimes, there are supplement stores as well. All these companies are paying rent to be able to operate in that gym.
- Others: Parking fees, sponsorships, sports competitions, etc.
So, there are plenty of ways that gyms can continue to make money regardless of how many members they have. That said, members still seem to be the thing that brings in the most amount of revenue.
More About Gym Memberships Per Gym
So, how many members does each gym have? Well, that’s a bit hard to pinpoint exactly, but we can make some assumptions.
By the end of 2019, the states with the most gyms were California (5,123) and Texas (3,285). The state with the least amount of gyms appeared to be Wyoming.
Funnily enough, Wyoming isn’t even in the top 15 most obese states, but Texas sits soundly at number 12, with West Virginia taking first place.
Other things we can extrapolate from the data is that California seems to be one of (if not the) healthiest states in the USA. Low smoking rates and an abundance of healthy restaurants make for a great living environment for those who prefer a healthy lifestyle.
The fact of the matter is — they just have more people who want to gym. But are they willing to pay?
- The most expensive average gym fee in the world is in Qatar, at $110.08 per month.
- The average gym fee in the USA is only $37.71 per month.
- The cheapest gym in the states remains Planet Fitness at around $10 per month.
According to RunRepeat, the average gym makes around $580 dollars per member per year. With an average of 1,600 members per gym, at 42,000 gyms, you can estimate that the money made from membership fees is around $32 billion.
Let’s compare this to some other countries:
|Country||Money made per member per year||Total number of members per gym||Number of gyms||Money made from memberships|
As you can see, American gyms are making a tremendous amount of money from clients. However, per client, they’re making a wee bit less.
Let’s see how profitable some of the most famous American gyms are:
- LA Fitness’s Annual Revenue in 2021 was reported at $2.1 billion.
- Anytime Fitness LLC’s Annual Revenue in 2021 was reported at $644 million.
- Golds Gym reported revenue of $99 million in 2021.
So, the numbers clearly indicate that some gyms are doing far better than others, and as a whole, the US gym market is doing quite well — far better than any other country.
When Are Gyms the Busiest?
When do you prefer training?
At 5 AM with all the people that either has their lives together or are fighting wild demons? At 2 PM when there’s an abundance of teenagers, so you’ll spend most of your time spotting them? Or at 6 PM when you’ll be waiting for every single machine?
This is a question almost everyone asks themselves daily, and for a good reason. Not only does timing affect how busy the gym is, but it could potentially affect your gains as well.
According to Meccamino’s research, the busiest times at the gym are
- Monday – Thursday: 4 pm – 7 pm
- Friday: 4 pm – 5 pm
- Saturday: 10am – 11am
This aligns with what we all know as peak hours. I was surprised to learn that early morning sessions weren’t more populated. However, having worked in gyms my entire life, it does make sense — mornings were never as busy as late afternoons.
Does the timing of training affect your gains? Well, not really.
See, each type of workout has drawbacks and benefits:
|Morning Workouts||Afternoon Workouts||Evening Workouts|
|Can help you fall asleep later during the day, but you’ll wake up earlier||Doesn’t affect sleep at all, but it could still limit time due to work hours||Some people feel evening workouts keep them up at night|
|Higher cortisol in the morning could lead to muscle wastage||Potentially the best for muscle growth||Can raise stress hormones more at a time you’re supposed to be relaxed|
|Traffic (on the road)||Less traffic (in the gym and on the road)||Traffic (in the gym)|
So, it really comes down to when you prefer training. The only rule of thumb that applies is that if you do train fasted, try to get some hydration in you. Preferably, with either a protein shake or EAAs to ensure you don’t push your body into a catabolic state.
* Note: Doing fasted cardio does not burn more fat than regular cardio. The idea stems from bodybuilders who do so, and the reason they do so is that they use illegal pharmacology to increase fat loss. In that specific scenario, fasted cardio does burn more fat.
What Kind of People Gym the Most?
Now that we know how successful gyms are and when they’re the busiest, we might want to look into who is populating the gyms.
- Millennials are the people who occupy gyms the most. These are the folks that are also more willing to train on their own and prefer the free weight section.
- Older generations do the gym, but they do so far less than Millennials. Most prefer lower-impact aerobic work.
- Gen Z’s numbers are increasing in the gym, but most of them seem to prefer group workouts, and they tend to go for “non-stereotypical” gyms, such as outdoor camps.
Another interesting trend we appear to see is that even though Millennials are most likely to purchase a gym membership, Baby Boomers are most likely to actually use their memberships.
That said, there will always be variance between individuals, etc.
This is perhaps why some people prefer niche gyms — or gyms that are built around a particular sport or training style, such as powerlifting or CrossFit gyms.
Not only does this create an environment for healthy competition and companionship, but you get all the equipment you need in one place. Niche gyms are usually quite a lot more expensive than franchise-owned gyms, but they offer a service that is harder to create and find.
Or, if you’re really looking to ball out, make your own at-home gym. Who needs a garage anyways? Pfft. I’ll park my car on the roof as long as I get to do my deadlifts!
So, How Many Members Do Gyms Actually Have?
Well, in the states, they have far less than some other countries.
Because of the size of the population, China and Hong Kong each have more than 2,000 members per gym. Even South Africa has the states beat, as the RSA has around 2,000 members per gym, while the states only have around 1,600.
That’s a good thing, btw!
You wouldn’t want a gym that’s too overpopulated since it makes for a poor gym environment and could result in poor hygiene as well. So, the USA has far fewer members per gym than other countries.
But yet they’re still miles ahead in revenue compared to others:
- The US fitness and gym market had a $35 billion revenue in 2020.
- By comparison, the USA had a bigger revenue than the next two countries put together.
It really is apparent that the US gym market is still booming and will continue to grow. That said, when looking at the most successful gyms, most of them are franchise-owned. This means fewer opportunities for smaller or petite gyms to prosper.
People will always be drawn to a combination of quality and affordability.
For those that perform in high-level sports, quality is more important. For a single mother of three, affordability is key. And for the majority of the population, franchise gyms are good enough.
We will, thus, continue to see a growth of large company-owned gyms. Smaller gyms might pop up here and there, but for the majority of the population, a franchise gym will do.