- Only around 6.3% of Americans reported not using their gym memberships.
- Barring the fiasco of 2020, gym memberships have increased steadily for the last couple of years.
- While Millennials are most likely to purchase a gym membership, Baby Boomers are more likely to actually use them.
We all know those people that buy things willy-nilly and never end up using them — white elephants. But what about gym memberships?
We can also all probably recall a guy or gal that just skips session after session. In reality, only 6.3% of Americans with a gym membership let them go unused.
But why even still pay then?
Do People Still Buy Gym Memberships?
Let’s face it. 2020 was disastrous for pretty much every single part of the economy. Except for streaming services… sourdough companies… and toilet paper manufacturers.
But it was especially bad for the health and fitness industry, and we saw some pretty severe changes:
- The fitness industry revenue declined by 58% compared to the year prior.
- When gyms did reopen, only 28% of the regulars actually came back.
- 59% of gym members just completely canceled their memberships because they felt they didn’t really need them, with even more people considering it.
- Nearly 75% of the members who returned to the gym in 2021 said they found they actually preferred outside exercise over the gym.
Yeah, the fitness industry really took a hit from COVID. But it’s been a long time since the early days of the pandemic, and gyms have had the opportunity to reopen and grow once again.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that gyms have grown since, so let’s look at one of the most popular gyms and their membership numbers:
|Gym||Members End 2020||Members End 2021||Change|
|Planet Fitness||14.4 million||15.2 million||6%|
* Finding accurate results for other gyms is quite hard, and sources are split. Thus, we can only accurately look at one.
So, by looking at this figure and the increase in revenue at most other gyms, we can see that there has been an increase in memberships sold from the end of 2020 to today. That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean people use them.
Get the FREE Shredded Body Checklist!
The 4 Steps to Build Noticeable Muscle Definition (without Turning Your Life into a Dumpster Fire!)
By entering your email address you agree to receive emails from Noob Gains. We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time.
How Many People Don’t Use Their Gym Memberships?
It’s estimated that each member makes their respective gym around $545 per year, according to RunRepeat. That’s quite a large number, especially when you look at how many people actually have memberships — but more on that later.
First, we want to discuss how many people actually go to the gym, how often they go, and how many people don’t go – ever.
- 6.3% of members don’t use their memberships at all.
- 43.8% of members go once or twice per week.
- 50% of members go more than twice per week.
That may sound good, but the same source also claims that while most people aim to go to the gym 9 times per month, they usually end up going 4 – 5 times. As you can see, most people do make use of their memberships but not nearly as much as they’d probably hope to.
As mentioned, the average gym goer creates $545 of revenue per gym per year, so if you only gym 4.5 times per month, you would end up paying $10.09 per session. For comparison, the cheapest gym in the U.S., Planet Fitness, charges $10 per month.
Why do members just not go to the gym, you may ask? Well, according to Better:
- 39% claim they don’t have the time.
- 16.5% say they lack confidence.
- 14% say the gym is too busy.
- Other reasons include childcare and “just had my hair done.”
These all seem like reasonable excuses. However, how much time does the average American spend doing other things?
- Netflix alone accounts for 25.7% — or 30 minutes — of total viewing time per day.
- This means the average American watches 120 minutes of videos per day. (Hey, if you’re already a fan of watching videos, there’s no excuse not to try online fitness!)
- Americans spend another 150 minutes on social media daily, and some of these two probably coincide.
- This means that most Americans spend at least 150 minutes per day doing something that isn’t a necessity. That 39% claim of not having the time is beginning to look like hogwash…
What Percentage of the Population Has a Gym Membership?
We hear stories about the gym being packed to the brim in the morning with fit moms, spilling over with teens in the afternoon, and jam-packed with bootie-program-selling influencers at night.
But is that really true?
As the popularity of social media has increased, so has the notion of fitness. Being “sold” under hashtags like fitstagram and motivationmonday, fitness has gained immense popularity in the past few years.
We’ve seen pages on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube also promoting a healthier lifestyle with fitness advice and motivational content. There are even apps with this sole purpose as well.
We see influencers like Logan Paul and KSI using fitness as a means to increase their popularity (clout) and even make some money from it. Fitness-based sports like CrossFit and bodybuilding are also on the rise. In fact, 2022’s Mr. Olympia had the biggest winning prize ever — $400,000.
But how has that impacted the general public?
- Currently, around 73.6 million people go to a health-gym-club in America
- Worldwide, there are about 184 million people going to gyms (specifically).
- The total number of gyms in the world is 210,000, and the U.S. has 41,370 fitness facilities in total.
* Note: There’s a clear distinction between what a gym and a fitness center are. Gyms function as places where you do resistance and aerobic training.
These stats indicate that only 2.3% of the world population actually makes use of health and fitness facilities. With the average gym fees sitting at $40 – $60 per month and an average world salary of $1,400 – $1,600 per month, that would mean you could spend 2.8% – 4.2% of your monthly salary on a membership.
But that doesn’t even tell the real story. When looking at places like South Africa, a yearly gym membership is $1,200, but the average salary per month is only $1000. This means that you could end up spending 10% on your gym membership!
The U.S. gets off pretty easily, seeing as gyms are reasonably affordable, great quality, and hygienic — something other countries can’t all say.
Is It Cheaper To Make Your Own Gym?
We’ve all fantasized about the situation.
You wake up with a kiss from the missus, you make your coffee (or pre-workout — or both), you head on down to the garage, turn Duality by Slipknot to “MAX” on the speakers, and you just start pounding away the weights in your home gym.
Sounds like heaven. Except for the caffeine-induced poop! (Fun little fact: caffeine makes you poop!)
Having your own gym was never something most of us really thought about a few years ago. And then, the world went upside down over a pandemic, the Suez Canal got blocked, we had riot after riot, and Russia wanted to be the big baddie of Europe.
Yeah, it’s been a rough couple of months and years. Safe to say that the lockdown made us all wish we had weights at home.
Jokes aside, home equipment sales have been booming since the onslaught of COVID and continued to do so in early 2023. With companies like Rogue leading the charge, we see more and more creative methods and mechanisms to train at home.
“I want something cheap, reliable, heavy, and doesn’t take a lot of room”.
– Me, talking about both home gym equipment and which kind of dog I want.
Jokes really aside, the idea of building your own gym is seen as normal now. But is it actually going to save you cash in the long run? Let’s do some “math,” shall we:
- Gym membership per year: $30 x 12 = $360
- Gas to and from gym [24 mpg average, 5 miles to the gym average, $3.2 per gallon average, 450 sessions per year]: ($0.64 x 2) x 450 = $576 per year
And then the amount of time you spend driving there in the first place adds up to 9,000 minutes — or 150 hours or 6.25 days — per year.
Damn! That’s a lot. I didn’t even realize it was going to be that bad. (This is based on the “general notion” that most folk usually drive 10 – 15 minutes to and from the gym.)
So, realistically speaking, you’re looking at a yearly investment of +- $1,000 per year only to attend a gym. Plus, the 150 hours spent driving there.
According to Garage Gym Reviews, a home gym could run you anywhere from $1,000 – $2,000. You would need to purchase the specific tools you need, so depending on how advanced you are, you might end up paying more or less than that.
That said, it makes sense that you’d be better off building your own gym. Especially if you plan to use it for multiple years. When looking at the amount of time lost (10-minute drives) to and from the gym, you could also just be saving a lot of… life.
Spend that time stretching.
… ew, no, that last one doesn’t sound good.
So, What Percentage of Gym Memberships Go Unused?
Overall, fewer than you might think. Only around 6.3% of members don’t use their gym membership, but still, most people don’t go as often as they would like to.
Most people aim to go around twice or three times per week, but they end up only going 4 times per month. The reasons for this are plenty, but the reason most people miss out on the gym is time.
Most folks claim they don’t have enough time, yet when looking at the average time spent watching videos and movies, this becomes hard to believe.
Other reasons include:
- Feeling embarrassed in the gym. A lot of overweight people feel like they’re being judged in the gym when in reality, most gym people don’t actually give a damn.
- Gyms can get quite busy, especially during “rush hours,” and people wish to avoid this… so they just don’t go at all.
- Other excuses seem half-hearted, such as having a “fear of lycra” or “just had their hair done.”
There are plenty of people who definitely don’t have the time — single mothers, folks who work multiple jobs, etc. That said, most people spend quite a lot of time on their phones or watching Netflix.
Even considering this, gyms are doing better than ever.
Yes, the market is oversaturated. However, this is most likely due to franchise-owned gyms. Smaller gyms don’t really stand a chance against them, so they end up being based in extreme niches. Thus, you get powerlifting gyms, CrossFit gyms, etc.
This is actually a good thing.
More jobs, happier clientele, and a better fitness environment. The U.S. gym industry reported revenue upwards of $35 billion in 2020 — and worldwide, $96.7 billion. America is far above other countries in revenue, clientele, and the number of gyms.
Gyms are doing quite fine. Even if there are a couple of people who don’t use their memberships, in the end, that’s their problem. The gym can only do so much.
Might come off as tough love, but it’s about discipline. If you really want to see a change in your physique or mental health due to fitness, it’s up to you to make the change.
Build a Superhero Body Without Training Like One
Getting in shape isn't easy. But this program gives you a real-life approach to building a leaner, more muscular body without obsessing over fitness 24/7.