It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s a new gym being built. They seem to be almost as ubiquitous as banks. But why? And is there really that many people exercising?
According to the IHRSA (International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association), the $30 billion health and fitness industry in the U.S. has been growing by at least three to four percent annually for the last ten years and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. If anything, it’s accelerating. Currently about 20 percent of American adults have a fitness club membership, a number which could double in the next ten years.
WHAT IS FUELING THE GROWTH IN THE FITNESS INDUSTRY?
The cost of healthcare. As the cost of healthcare continues to rise, people (and employers) are realizing the value of a healthy lifestyle. Many employers and insurers now cover the costs of a health club membership or studio classes.
The growth in organic foods. Gone are the days when McDonald’s was the go-to for dinner. As more people care about what they put into their bodies in terms of food, there is a trickle down effect in terms of what else they can do to be healthy.
Fitbits. Who would have thought that the idea of tracking your step, your heart rate while working out, and the number of calories burned while exercising would fuel a growth in exercise? It has. Having your Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin, and even many of the smartphones at your fingertips has raised awareness of your health and gotten more people to realize health is important in their lives.
Streaming exercises. Many people don’t exercise because it’s just one more thing to add to their already busy lives. Getting to the gym can take valuable time. Hence, the growth in the idea of attending a class at home at your convenience has taken root and, surprisingly, had not caused a dip in gym memberships. Research has shown most of these people do maintain a gym membership, but also utilize streaming as well.
Two segments of the fitness industry have been responsible for the majority of its recent growth in members and number of facilities: Boutique fitness studios and “high-value, low-price” (HVLP) health clubs. Inexpensive gyms with great equipment has exploded as gym owners utilize the fact that 150 people who can pay $30 is more revenue that 30 who can pay $130 dollars. Plus, by stripping out the amenities (like towels) provided by traditional gyms, HVLPs save money, which they pass on to their clients. Less impactful, but still important, are boutique studios, which have also been growing very quickly all over the country. These studios are usually small and specialized. Spinning, high-intensity interval training classes, circuit training, barre, and Pilates are examples. They are also generally on the higher end price-wise, ranging from $20 – $50 a class, or $150 – $200 month. Selling points for these are the central locations (since they can fit almost anywhere), the specialization, and the camaraderie fostered by the smaller, more quaint environment. For the time being, consumers certainly don’t seem to mind the prices, but time will tell – especially if the economy changes.
Outdoor obstacle races. The Tough Mudder and The Spartan events usually draw huge crowds, mainly from the sense of teamwork and personal accomplishment that comes with completing one — not to mention they are a blast. These races have been growing in popularity for many years and with the races now broken down by skill level, the appeal of them has only grown. But what makes these one-off events have such a major impact on the fitness industry’s growth? You have to train for them —hard – and many times people do it in a health club.
According to Forbes Magazine, “all these factors have combined to create a fitness industry that is growing faster than it ever has before. The current U.S. health and fitness facility count is approximately 32,000, though there are likely thousands of boutique studios that remain uncounted. Look for that number to go way up – and potentially double – in the next decade or two.”
I just did a HIIT (high-intensity, interval training) workout for 90 minutes today at Orange Theory Fitness and got my butt kicked. I ran almost 5 miles at different intensities, and then had to row and do dumbbell moves afterwards. By 1 hour and 20 minutes, I was done. I was barely moving. I’m pretty sore now already.
WHAT’S A HIIT WORKOUT?
HIIT workouts are high-intensity interval training workouts designed to increase the
body’s need for oxygen and create an oxygen shortage, causing your body to ask for more oxygen during recovery. This afterburn effect is referred to as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) and is the reason why intense exercise will help burn more fat and calories than regular aerobic and steady-state workouts.
Over time, high-intensity workouts can increase your VO2 max, or your body’s ability to use oxygen for energy. This translates to better endurance, which leads to more energy and the ability to sustain more work for a longer period of time.
Working different aerobic systems improves endurance while building stronger fast-twitch muscle fibers, which can help deliver that final kick needed to finish strong. Working out at 70 percent to 80 percent of your maximum heart rate will deliver the greatest EPOC effect.
However, recovery is important. We only get stronger when we recover, and it can take 24 to 48 hours to fully recover from a high intensity interval training workout.
WHY YOU SHOULD TRY HIIT WORKOUTS
Increase your metabolism to burn more calories faster and longer
Increase your VO2 max to increase endurance
Force yourself outside your comfort zone to do things you otherwise wouldn’t
Increase performance across all sports
I can tell you right now I would never have done this on my own. The advantages to working out in a class setting is you do do things you otherwise wouldn’t. It was fun. I got an amazing workout. I burned 741 calories. And I feel great! I can’t wait until my next class!