Tapping into Millennial Fitness Needs and Desires

A 2019 nationwide study evaluating fitness programs and features of interest to those aged 20-39 in the United States.

Prepared by: Joanne Vega, MBA and Tyler Jackson, Strategic Research Associates, Spokane, WA

July 15, 2019

Methodology in fielding

From May 10th through the 12th Strategic Research Associates designed a cross-sectional survey to be administered through a third-party email list to collect responses examining millennial fitness habits.

The survey collected eight demographic questions and seven screening questions that were aimed at understanding which millennials paid for fitness centers, how they viewed their current fitness levels, how they achieved their fitness goals, what they wanted a fitness center to provide to achieve their fitness goals and their personal preferences in fitness centers.

The average time it took to finish the survey was 4 minutes via our online screener.

The third-party email list used to administer the millennial fitness survey is made up of 50 million registered users. The registered users of our third-party source are gathered through multiple panels and recruitment methods to eliminate any panel bias. Respondents are also randomly selected for participation, as well as actively monitored to remove any individuals who rapidly finish surveys or take as many surveys as then can leaving us with respondents who carefully considered each question and how it pertains to themselves. 

With the knowledge of how the survey was administered, we are confident the random sample of 1500 emails, that fits our demographic criteria, is as diverse and robust as a random sample could be. The size and diversity of the random population sample used to field the survey allows the data collected and analyzed to be externally valid when making statistically backed assumptions about the target demographic.

The survey was administered to 1500 respondents between the ages of 20 and 39 split up between the four time zones in the continental US. The demographic and preference data would then be collected and analyzed alongside secondary census data to define favorable and unfavorable markets and help better understand and define the underlying themes that are shown in the survey results.

Due to the rules of statistical reliability and the size of subsamples we can achieve with each question, we can state the findings in this report are statistically valid to +/- 5% at 95% confidence.

Executive summary; key findings

The survey was fielded to examine millennial fitness habits in the United States and to discern and define their preferences in a paid health club, also referred to as fitness centers in this report,  membership programs. 

The report also uses primary data collected from the survey and secondary data collected from census sources matched to respondents ZIP codes to define favorable markets for millennial paid health club membership. Cross tabulations and regression analysis were used to make our assumptions. All the cross-tabulation and regression results were tested to a p-value of .05.

The analysis displayed to us that 28.2% of our sample currently have paid gym memberships. The survey also showed that millennials are utilizing free or cheaper versions of exercising at around double the rate of paying for a gym membership (Go for walks hikes and runs: 65.2%, Workout at home: 48.6%, Do outdoor activities: 47.4% vs. Go to gym using paid membership: 28.2%) .

We also discovered that millennials were purchasing health club memberships at a higher rate in ZIP codes with larger median incomes around a 5% increase for every 10K increase in ZIP median income¹.

The results indicate that millennials get their exercise from free or cheaper avenues rather than getting health club memberships or participating in work out classes. They are also more willing to try free or cheaper avenues of getting physical activity in the future rather than paying for a health club membership or participating in fitness classes.

Respondents indicated that millennials prefer their health club memberships at an affordable price with their ideal health clubs having warm water pools, cardio equipment, and strength training equipment at a location that is in a convenient location to their home. Millennials did not care for specialized training equipment or spaces.

Bottom line, Millennials wish for a cheap gym with the normal lifting equipment, cardio equipment and a few amenities like a warm water pool but are willing to trade those amenities for a lower health club membership price.

Millennials are also interested in trying group exercise classes, as indicated by 63.9% of the sample, with women being the statically more likely than men to say they are interested. Yoga was the top choice with healthy cooking and nutrition and meal planning classes rounding out the top 3. There is also a large market for millennials that are interested in trying fitness classes but don’t partciapte in any at the moment (46.6% according to our study).

Nutrition classes were also a popular choice when the respondents were asked about what fitness activities and classes with about half our sample, indicating they would be interested in those classes.

Descriptive Sample Demographics: Primary demographic data descriptions

The target of the survey was to reach 1500 Millennials across the country. We were able to field 1500 surveys that included 631 males and 825 females. Also, to make sure our data was externally valid and robust, we fielded survey respondents from all around the country.

After completion, we saw 514 respondents from the Eastern time zone, 432 from the Central time zone, 161 from the Mountain time zone and 393 from the Pacific time zone to make up our 1500 respondent sample. The proportion of respondents in our survey in each time zone roughly followed the proportion of the population of each time zone compared to the total US population. We did not see any statistical variance in any of our seven screening questions when tested against time zone; thus we can say, according to our research, there were no statistically significant changes in preferences of respondents by time zone or home region.

The next demo info that was collected was the age of our respondents. Since this is a millennial-focused survey and our age window was between the 20–39. Our goal was to collect an even distribution of ages within that window, and we were able to do so with 49.8% of our respondent’s ages 20-29 and 50.2% being 30-39 years old.

Next, we wanted to know how many of our respondents lived with other adults 19 years and older and how many adults 19 an older they lived with in the same household. This variable is important in understanding the preferences when it comes to those without others in their household and those that live with adults in their household.

We would like to know if those that live alone will gravitate towards certain activities or have different preferences compared to those that live with another person. This screening question showed us that 315 (21%) of our respondents lived as the only adult in their household and 1,171 (78%) saying that they lived with one or more adults, and 14 refused to answer. We also discovered that males were statistically more likely to live alone compared to females; 26% for males vs. 17% for females. The data we gathered from this demographic sample will show us if there is a correlation between living with another adult and fitness habits and preferences.

The proceeding question asked, “How many CHILDREN aged 18 and younger live in your household. In fielding this question, we saw that 684 (45.6%) of our sample lived with no children. When testing for age group differences, the data showed us that those ages 20-29 (51.7% had no children at home) were statistically less likely to have kids at home compared to our 30-39-year-old group (39.6% had no children at home.

Also, men were statistically more likely to not live with a child at home with 54% of our sample saying they didn’t live with a child at home vs. 39.1% of women who said they didn’t live with a child. Again, this demo information collected will be very important in judging if there is a correlation between certain fitness needs/ habits and preferences and millennials having children at home.

At the end of the survey, we were able to collect more demographic info.

First, we collected their ZIP code so we could gather secondary data on the ZIP they were in to discern if there was a correlation between the ZIP demographics and their fitness habits needs and preferences.

The second question was,” And how long have you lived in the town you currently reside in?”. We had all 1500 respondents answer this question. This question gave respondents one of these five options; “Less than a year, 1 to 5 years, 6 to 9 years, 10 years or more or Don’t know/ Refused”. In our sample were able to indicate that 156 (10.4%) of them had lived in their current town for less than a year. 35.7% indicated that they have lived in their current town for 1 to 5 years, 16.5% indicated that they have lived in their current town for 6 to 9 years and 36% of our sample indicated that they have lived in their current town for ten years or more.

You are statistically more likely to see females live in their current town for 1 to 5 years compared to males, and you are statistically more likely to see males live in their current town ten years or longer compared to females. Overall this demographic statistic could be very helpful when we look at the preferences of millennials and their fitness needs and habits.

The final piece of demo information we collected was from those that said they had children living with them at home; we wanted to know the different age ranges their kids fell into to see if any patterns emerged. Again, this is vital information in making correct assumptions in the millennial fitness market. In the table below, you can see the whole break down of the percentages respondents with kids that had children in that age range.

Our top 3 categories were 8 to 12 years, with 28.9% of the sample with children under 18, indicating they had children between those ages. 35.3% of respondents with kids under 18 said that they had children ages 1 to 4 and lastly 38.7% said they had children ages 4 to 8.

Sample Descriptions: Secondary demographic data descriptions

To further understand the needs, habits, and preferences of millennials and how it correlates to the fitness market we collected our respondent’s ZIP codes and used Census Bureau information to tie secondary demographic data to the area of where each respondent was from to help define favorable and unfavorable markets. We collected 1456 ZIP codes of a possible 1500. Of the 1456 ZIP codes, we were able to match those with demographic information collected from the Census Bureau to get 1395 data points for each secondary demographic variable except for the variable “concentration of fitness centers in ZIP” which only had 1129 data points. These data points allow for our secondary data to be robust.

The first data reviewed was the median income of the counties; we saw the average ZIP Median Income of our respondents was $59,588 ± 11,333.  The average population of the ZIP codes our respondents resided in was 32,387 ± 10,197 with the average age of the ZIP codes they resided in being 38 years old ± 2.28 years.

We then were able to collect the average number of fitness centers per ZIP and the size of in square miles per ZIP code to use in our analysis and use as proportions with the population of ZIP to see how the concentration of people and fitness centers differ between the different demographics and screening data we collected. 

The average fitness center per ZIP code was 4.16 ± 1.80 w/ n=1129, with an average of 14,380 ± 6936 people per fitness center. We Also saw an average of 4940 ± 5849 people per square mile of land in each ZIP code.  All the secondary data was collected to help set a target market in millennial wants and needs in fitness centers memberships.

Primary data Screening Question descriptions

Q1: “This brief study is about your personal fitness habits, regardless of if you go to a gym or not. We want to better understand what you are doing! First, how would you classify your current fitness level?”

We wanted to look at how the overall sample rated their current fitness level on a scale of 1-5 and see how the different fitness ratings differed between our other primary data and our secondary data sources. The goal is to see if there is an underlying theme that could lead to better understanding the wants and needs of millennials when it comes to fitness.

We saw 1471 people answer this question with a number to represent their fitness level. The average fitness level was 3.14 ± .56. An interesting development we saw was that males are statistically more likely to rate themselves a higher fitness level than women with a mean rating of 3.35 for males VS a mean rating of 2.97 for females. The fitness ratings will help us define the fitness habits and preferences of millennials if there is any that correlate with how millennials view their fitness.

Q2: “Do you CURRENTLY do any of the following activities in order to improve your personal health and wellbeing?” With the options being: EAT HEALTHY MEAL, DO MEAL PLANNING, ON A SPECIFIC DIET, GO FOR WALKS, HIKES OR RUNS, WORKOUT AT HOME, DO OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES, GO TO THE GYM USING A PAID MEMBERSHIP, PARTICIPATE IN FITNESS CLASSES, NONE OF THE ABOVE.

We saw the most popular answer was “GO FOR WALKS, HIKES OR RUNS” with 978, around 65.2 % of our respondents picking that option. Eat healthy meals (n=812, 54.1%), and workout at home (n=729, 48.6%) rounded out the top 3. A surprising development we saw was that 423 (28.2% of the sample) went to the gym using a paid membership. And only 259 (17.3% of the sample) said they participate in fitness classes.

Obviously, since we are trying to understand the fitness habits, it is interesting to see that so few millennials own a gym membership or go to fitness classes compared to the other workout options that were available to pick in this question.

Q3: “Are any of these activities something you want to do or try in the FUTURE to improve your personal health and wellbeing?” With the options being:  EAT HEALTHY MEALS, DO MEAL PLANNING, ON A SPECIFIC DIET, GO FOR WALKS, HIKES OR RUNS, WORKOUT AT HOME, DO OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES, GO TO THE GYM USING A PAID MEMBERSHIP, PARTICIPATE IN FITNESS CLASSES, NONE OF THE ABOVE.

The results showed us that “EAT HEALTHY MEALS, GO FOR WALKS, HIKES OR RUNS and WORKOUT AT HOME” were the top 3 selections N= 725, 716 and 652 respectively.

Digging deeper into the data we see that 581 respondents, 38.7%, of the sample said they would try going to a gym with a paid membership and 517 respondents, 34.5%, would participate in a fitness class. Both responses (going to a gym with a paid membership and participate in fitness classes) gained from their percentages from Q2 indicating there is a market for millennials who want to join a gym/ participate in fitness classes but they have not followed through on their “interest’.

We also can see that most millennials in our survey do NOT directly pay for the “fitness activities” they take part of.

Q4: “If an organization was to provide your new favorite gym, in a location that is convenient for you, with membership pricing that you felt was acceptable, what features would this gym have?”

This question was asked to understand the preferences of the respondents in their gym amenities/ equipment in ideal circumstances.

Weight and strength training equipment, cardiovascular equipment, and a warm water pool were the top choices among respondents. The overall theme we see from this question was that the standard gym equipment was the main draw for millennials while specialized spaces like sports courts and specialized workout equipment are not ad desired as much, as other options in this question according to our survey results.

Q5: “Are fitness classes, like yoga, spinning, barre, etc., of interest to you personally? YES, NO OR DON’T KNOW.”

1332 of our 1500 respondents answered yes or no to this question. Of the 1332 yes or no’s 959 said they were interested in those classes. Of the respondents that said yes 614 were female, so 72.7% of the female population are interested in participating in fitness classes, which is a statistically significant difference than men.

Only 52.7 of the men in the sample responded with a yes to this question. The data from this question reveals that there is a lot of interest in workout classes and a topic that should be analyzed further.

Q6: “What types of classes or group exercise activities would you enjoy”?

We then took the Yes’s form Q5 and asked them this question to see what other group exercise classes our respondents would enjoy. There was a mix of physical activities and nutritional classes. Yoga was the most popular with healthy cooking and nutrition and meal planning rounding out the top 3.

The data from this question signals to us that millennials have a desire to learn about the nutritional side of health and wellbeing, so sit down classes about nutrition is an avenue that can be popular in the millennial if fitness centers ever decided to implement them.

Q7: “Thinking about reasons that would inspire you personally to go to the gym or join a group exercise class or program, which of the following reasons apply to you?”

To dig deeper into the barriers and preferences of what millennials want in a gym or personal exercise class, we evaluated what differences were evident among current reasons to join and looked at them through the lens of possible non-membership.

The results state that “LOCATED CONVENIENT TO MY HOME” and “PRICE IS A GOOD VALUE” were the top response to this question, but the top 6 responses each had over 40% of the respondents select them as a reason why they would choose a gym.

The survey results signal that millennials are overall concerned with the total cost of the gym and the convenience, but as a group, they want a variety of options with no clear-cut favorite when it comes to their single preference in gyms/ group activities.

Millennial Fitness Habits

Most millennials are not acquiring memberships at fitness centers with only 28.2% from our sample stating that they have a gym membership. The survey results indicate that millennials are using lower-cost or free alternatives to get their exercise with “GO FOR WALKS, HIKES OR RUNS, WORKOUT AT HOME, DO OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES” all being selected more often than “GO TO THE GYM USING A PAID  MEMBERSHIP” by a substantial margin (28.2% VS 65.2% for walks hikes or runs, 48.6% for workout at home and 47.4% for outdoor activities).

When asked what they would like to try in the future to help themselves improve their health and wellbeing the free and cheaper options of obtaining exercise were picked at lower rates from Q2-Q3, which means that many people are participating in these activities but would rather not participate in them in the future. Looking at the differences in the percentage change in how many respondents picked each response from Q2 to Q3 the results state that; “GO FOR WALKS HIKES OR RUNS” fell 17.5%, “WORKOUT AT HOME” fell 5.1% and “DO OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES FELL 5.9%.

When we compare the difference to Q2 – Q3 for the “paid” forms of obtaining physical exercise “GO TO THE GYM USING A PAID MEMBERSHIP” and “PARTICIPATE IN FITNESS CLASSES” were picked at increasing rates between the two question. The difference for “GO TO THE GYM USING A PAID MEMBERSHIP” had a 10.5% increase between the two questions and  “PARTICIPATE IN FITNESS CLASSES”  had a 17.2% increase between the two questions. It is indicating that millennials are wanting to work out at gyms in different capacities but have barriers that stop them from getting paid memberships.

What seems to be the main culprit in slowing millennials from getting paid gym memberships/ participating in group exercise classes would be the price of the gym vs. the value it offers with its different amenities and services.  We can confirm this by looking at Q7 when asking our respondents what their preferences are gym or group exercise programs the most picked option was ‘Price is a good value”. Also, when we look at our research, we see that those that live in higher median income ZIP codes have higher paid gym membership rates compared to those ZIP codes with smaller median incomes.

An interesting development we saw was that millennials were the most interested in eating healthy in future meals as an activity they would try in the future to improve their health and wellbeing. It is very interesting as it was the most selected response of all the other options, with 48.3% of our respondents selecting this option.

The main takeaway from millennial fitness habits would be that millennials are choosing the cheaper options to workout instead of getting a paid membership to a gym or group fitness activity. Millennials also choose the cheaper forms of physical activity alternatives at a higher rate than, again, getting a paid membership to a gym or fitness class.

The data shows us that millennials workout outside the gym and would rather workout outside the gym in the future to meet their fitness goals. But they do want to pay to use a gym or participate in fitness classes they have barriers that are preventing them from doing so. Millennials also want to eat healthier in the future.  

There was no statistical leaning when the different time zones were cross-tabulated, indicating that regionally there are no significant leanings in millennial fitness habits.

Fitness Class Popularity

According to the results from Q5 there is a majority interest in group classes (63.9% of respondents say that fitness classes are of interest to them), but when the question was asked in Q2 “Do you CURRENTLY do any of the following activities in order to improve your personal health and wellbeing?” we saw only 17.3% of our respondents actively participated in “fitness classes”. The gap between interest and participation is a big signal that there is a market for fitness classes once the barriers to entry have been located and knocked down.

From our screening question results (Q7) we see that the number one reason a respondent would choose a gym or fitness class was because the price was a good value, so one can assume that the price of the fitness center vs. the amenities, equipment, and services that are offered would be the most significant barrier to entry for most.

The price and value response will be used to as a measuring stick against our other responses because it is the least subjective variable; meaning that the price per month vs. the amenities and services offered at a fitness center is a numerical value that compare to other fitness centers. So, this preference from Q7 will be used in the following section to analyze how the addition of fitness classes and which once would benefit fitness centers.

Since there is a large market (46.6% of our millennial respondents are interested, and DON’T participate in fitness classes) it is worth it to take a look at what fitness classes were the most popular from Q6 (What types of classes or group exercise activities would you enjoy”?) and categorize which type of classes or group exercise activities would the most popular.

Yoga was by far the most popular class with 63.6% of the sample (71.3% of women) indicating that if fitness centers wanted to add the most value to their price the addition of yoga classes, if not done already, would be the best avenue of doing so. The next exercise-related activity that had the most responses from Q6 was a spinning or cycling class that had 41.9% of our respondents say they were interested.

Digging deeper, we saw two of the top 3 more popular selections were healthy cooking classes and nutrition and meal planning classes. It indicates that there is a demand out there for knowledge about how to improve one’s health and wellbeing through nutrition. Adding nutritional knowledge to consumers can be done tough group classes or one on one consultation, but that main point is that, if not done already, there is a large market for potential gym customers that would find a lot of value in the addition of nutritional knowledge classes of any type to fitness center services.

The responses “YOGA, HEALTHY COOKING, NUTRITION AND MEAL PLANNING, and SPINNING or CYCLING” were selected to analyze in this section because they were the most chosen responses form Q6 and would be the most functional and efficient response to that could be incorporated into a fitness center. The responses “OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES, AT HOME / VIDEO CLASSES, PILATES, OUTDOOR SPORTS, OUTDOOR JOGGING GROUPS, BOOTCAMP, AERIAL FITNESS, BARRE, and INTRAMURAL SPORTS” were not chosen because they are not feasible in a fitness center environment, or did not show enough popularity to be selected form Q6 for further analysis.

Another common theme that appeared when analyzing those who said they are interested in joining fitness classes is that women are statistically more likely to say that they would want to join with 72% of the females indicating fitness classes would be of interest to them. Also, when the males were analyzed, 52.7% of our male respondents indicated that they would find interest in fitness classes. With this information, we know that women are more likely to be interested when they see that a fitness center has group exercise activities or classes.

As mentioned earlier yoga was the number one response to those that said they are interested in fitness classes and asked what kind of group activity they would enjoy. Looking further into this showed us that 71.3% of our females who said they enjoyed fitness classes would enjoy yoga classes compared to 49.9% of the male respondents. Fitness centers that have a high incidence of females would benefit more by adding in yoga classes compared to those with a male-dominant population.

Again, to break down the most popular reason why a millennial would go to a gym or group exercise class, according to our survey, was if that the price was a good value. If a fitness center wanted to increase the value of their gym membership, adding in yoga, cycling classes, or nutrition-based classes would give the fitness center the best chance at adding more value to their bottom line.

Because we discovered a large market of millennials (46.6% of our respondents) that are interested in fitness group activities and nutritional classes, but currently don’t participate in group exercise activities or nutritional classes we can assume that there is a great opportunity in offering classes of this nature. Also, fitness centers that are more female membership would see the most bang for their buck by implementing yoga classes.

Fitness Center Preferences

From our seven-screening questions, an understanding of millennial fitness habits and preferences was able to be built, but now a more in-depth examination can be looked at to see what demographics correlation, or lack thereof, can help define what millennials want and don’t want in their fitness centers.

Millennial fitness center preference boils down to the fact that millennials are most concerned about the price vs. value of their membership and want their fitness center located in a convenient location to their home. Millennials have little opinion on the need for specialized equipment or spaces and are willing to sacrifice those amenities for a lower price.

Also, there are not many dividing lines when it comes to the demographic layout of each different group of respondents. The wants and needs of millennials in their gyms is comprehensive. When analyzing the different primary demographic data collected, factors like having children, their age, or their gender do not influence their preferences when it comes to the popular items they want in a gym. There are a few trends that could be taken advantage of in the correct market, but when it comes to what millennials want in their ideal gym it is consistent across the board

The ideal gym would be priced well, in a convenient location (convenient to housing type areas and not dense business locations), and have a selection of weight training equipment, cardio equipment with a comfortable atmosphere that lets them efficiently get through their work out.

The gym model that would fit these preferences would be one that has a lot of fitness options but trading the expensive fitness-specific equipment for areas with multipurpose fitness equipment and areas that allow for different uses and options for exercise like fitness group activities.

The data also showed us that there was interest for amenities like a warm water pool (43.7% of the sample), sauna or steam room (41.9% of the sample) and a lap pool (40.5% of the sample).

These preferences would best be taken advantage of by offering variable pricing that increases the price as the prospective members choose which extra amenities they want. This will allow the price to stay lower, and more importantly, in most millennials eyes meet the cost preference range for those that just want to use the more popular items (weightlifting equipment and cardio equipment), while allowing those who like using the extra amenities (lap pool, sauna, warm water pool) an extra charge to use.

Without diving too far into the specific financials of adding extra amenities, our data shows that there is enough interest in a warm water pool, sauna or steam room, and a lap pool to start the conversation to evaluate if a variable pricing membership model may generate enough revenue to cover the upfront cost of adding these amenities in and the fixed cost of maintaining them.

With the lower number of millennials with fitness memberships (Q2=28.2%) and their measured preference when it comes to pricing (Q7 PRICE IS A GOOD VALUE = 54.2%), we also observe that price elasticity is most likely very elastic among this population, which means that a lower base cost for fitness membership will drive the number of fitness memberships up. In theory, the greater amount of memberships at lower pricing could generate more revenue than having fewer memberships with a higher base price for cardio and general weightlifting equipment, among the millennial market segment.

There were no other correlations that we saw in our primary or secondary demographic data that would help define what millennials want in a fitness center.

The final takeaway from this section would be that our millennial respondents want their fitness centers to have basic workout equipment, but a large portion also wants the ability to use extra amenities, and a variable pricing model would capture both of these groups allowing for larger margins and happier customers.

Here are some demographic dividing lines that can be taken advantage of at a community level.

  • As median income increases, the population is more likely to want cardiovascular equipment, functional training spaces, indoor sports courts. No option increases in popularity as the median income decreases.
  • As the population density increases, the population is more likely to want outdoor sports fields.
  • Those that live with another adult in their house old are more likely to want group exercise classes and a steam room.
The Millennial Fitness Market

Thanks to Q2 and Q3, we know who uses paid gym memberships and attends exercise classes. Within our data, we can dig deeper and see if there is a common underlying theme that is different in those that have gym memberships or participate in fitness classes and those that do not.

First, when looking through the data, it’s good to note that the fitness center per person ratio of the ZIP our respondents live in does not differ between those that have gym memberships and those that do not. Also having a child at home, age, or gender does not statistically affect if someone does or does not have a gym membership/ fitness class participation.

We see those that live in more population-dense ZIP codes are statistically more likely to have a paid gym membership and participate in fitness classes. Also, we see that those that have a paid gym membership or participate in fitness classes are more likely to live in a ZIP code with a higher median income. And we see that those that have a paid gym membership/ Participate in fitness classes are more likely to rate themselves as more fit.

These findings tell us important information on the ideal millennial target market for those who have gym memberships and participate in fitness classes. We can say that those in higher-income ZIPS and those that live in increasing population densities will see more gym memberships/ fitness class participants.

There was an extremely strong relationship between increasing ZIP median income and increasing gym membership rates.  It can be demonstrated by a regression analysis looking at two different median incomes. A ZIP code with a median income of 40,000 had a 24% ± 0.43% chance of owning a gym membership while those in a ZIP with a 70k median income had a 41% ± 0.75% chance of owning a gym membership. The assumption that an increased income of the surrounding area equals more gym memberships can be made because when we controlled for our other secondary and primary demographic data, there was no other correlation that could be uncovered.

Final Takeaway

As has been said before millennials would choose to workout outside of a gym rather than in a gym. And they would rather try free or cheaper physical activities in the future rather than get a health club membership or participate in fitness classes. Millennials also don’t participate in fitness classes; there is a large market of those that indicated that they are interested in group fitness classes or nutrition classes.

The ideal gym for millennials, according to our research, would be a health club with a cheap base membership fee that offered cardio equipment, general weightlifting equipment, and group exercise classes in a comfortable space. 

But to meet the needs of the other amenities an add on monthly fee for the use of a warm water pool, sauna or steam room, and lap pool would be the ideal way to capture the most millennials.

The location of this gym would be in a higher income ZIP code with residential neighborhoods with high-density housing close.

The market concentration of other gyms is another story. We see that higher concentrations of fitness centers in ZIP codes do not affect the gym membership rate. A millennial dense ZIP code that has a larger than average Median income (in our study that would be around 70k) would stand a better chance at yielding memberships, even if there was more competition nearby, than that same type of fitness center in a ZIP with a lower than average median income (48K according to our study).

Capturing the millennial population as part of any fitness center membership base is not about offering the newest equipment and remodeled facilities, but instead giving them the opportunity to choose and have control of their fitness future through education, and low entry activities that inspire daily fitness habits and create a lifelong relationship with fitness and personal wellbeing.

Appendix
1)
Median Income vs. gym membership Regression output
Equation: Y = 5.89E-06x
Assumed Percentage of millennial gym memberships in the ZIP code is figured out by median ZIP income and multiplying it by the coefficient.

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