Gym Utilization Rates Crush Pre-Pandemic Levels, Data Shows

Q1 check-ins have nearly doubled from pre-pandemic levels while demand for personal training soars, according to a report from ABC Fitness
If the gym seems more crowded this year, it’s not your imagination. A new report from fit tech giant ABC Fitness shows that gym check-ins are up 60% in the first quarter of 2024 compared to 2023, and clients using personal trainers have increased 78% compared to last year.
ABC Fitness‘ Q1 Wellness Watch report, which compiled findings from 40 million members across 100 countries and over 30,000 studios and gyms, also found that boutique studios have seen a 22% spike in check-ins.
The results are in line with similar findings reported by Placer.ai, which found increased year-over-year visitation rates nearly every week from January to April this year at leading big-box gyms such as Planet Fitness and Crunch Fitness.
While the U.S. saw the highest increase in check-ins (totaling 184 million visits), ABC Fitness CEO Bill Davis noted that people around the world are recognizing the importance of fitness for their physical and mental well-being, as well as their social benefits.
“The fitness industry is poised to help more people in more ways than ever before as fitness businesses emerge as a strong driver of community,” Davis said.
Here are some key findings from the Q1 Wellness Watch report.
In-Person Fitness Is Booming
Q1 check-ins have nearly doubled from pre-pandemic levels, according to ABC Fitness, and paying membership accounts increased 8% when compared to 2023.
As consumers begin to adopt health and fitness regimens, as seen by the increased check-ins at gyms and boutique studios, more people are identifying as “Fitness Explorers” (4%) and ‘Wellness Lovers” (6% and comprised mostly of older Gen Z members and Millennials) when compared to last year.
“Fitness enthusiasts and gym goers have a high ‘Wellness IQ’ and are prioritizing physical health because they understand the mental and physical health benefits,” ABC Fitness chief marketing officer Cristine Kao said. “Retention of current members is a key growth area for fitness businesses in 2024.”
Young Consumers Prioritize Wellness
According to ABC Fitness, Gen Z consumers are more invested in their physical and mental health than any other generation and spend between $21-$69 a month on average on monthly dues. They also represent the generation with the highest increase of new joins year-over-year.
While 38% of this cohort tend to frequent traditional health clubs, they are also avid fans of community recreational centers, YMCAs and fitness training studios. 
They also seek the guidance of personal trainers more than other populations, as well as recreational sports and small group training, and most monitor their workouts with wearable tech (56%).
Big box gyms like Crunch Fitness have seen traffic grow in 2024 (credit: Crunch Fitness)

Personal Training in High Demand
Overall, consumer interest in personal training has grown in the first quarter of 2024.
See Also

While men may currently have a slight lead in personal trainer usage (totaling 3.6 million clients), women aren’t that far behind at 3.5 million.
Year over year, ABC Fitness finds that the number of clients using personal trainers is 78% higher, with women comprising over 50% of new clients.
As ABC Fitness points out, the majority of Gen Z (68%) work out on their own, suggesting that gyms and coaches should specifically target this demographic. 
“Gen Z is more digitally connected than almost any other generation,” fitness coach Kai Karttunen said. “App-based workouts, gamified challenges and personalized data are all going to help connect to this audience.”
Gyms & Studios as a “Third Place”
As gyms and studios have become a healthy respite from school/work and home, the need for socialization and meaningful connections (especially in the post-pandemic era) have become a priority for wellness seekers — with both men and women nearly equal in terms of new join demographics.
Socialization and meaningful connections, especially in the post-pandemic era, have become a priority for wellness seekers. According to ABC’s data, 58% of members and users say it’s important for their fitness club to embrace social causes.
The ABC Fitness Wellness Watch Report Q1 can be found here.

Courtney Rehfeldt
Courtney Rehfeldt has worked in the broadcasting media industry since 2007 and has freelanced since 2012. Her work has been featured in Age of Awareness, Times Beacon Record, The New York Times, and she has an upcoming piece in Slate. She studied yoga & meditation under Beryl Bender Birch at The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute. She enjoys hiking, being outdoors, and is an avid reader. Courtney has a BA in Media & Communications studies.

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