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Fitness: A Strong Start to 2024

by 
Lila Margalit
 on 
February 21, 2024
Fitness: A Strong Start to 2024

January is a time for new beginnings – and nearly half of Americans vowed to improve their fitness in the new year. So with 2024 picking up steam, we dove into the data to explore the current state of fitness. How did leading fitness chains perform last month? And what’s in store for the industry as a whole? 

‘Tis the Season to be Healthy

The first month of the year is a time for gyms to shine. Analyzing month-over-month changes in the average number of daily gym visits reveals that the biggest visit spike of the year takes place between December and January, when people double down on their motivation to make a change.

This year was no exception. In January 2024, visits to gyms nationwide jumped by 22.1% relative to December 2023 and were up 1.7% year-over-year (YoY) – despite lapping a very strong January 2023 – indicating that the post-COVID obsession with health and wellness is showing staying power.

Drilling down into the data for the nation’s five most-visited fitness chains shows that there’s plenty of room at the top. Value gym Crunch Fitness led the pack with a 21.1% YoY foot traffic increase, partly fueled by the brand’s continued expansion. Next in line was 24 Hour Fitness, where YoY visit gains highlighted the chain’s recovery from its pandemic-induced troubles. Planet Fitness outpaced its own outstanding 2023 performance with a 1.7% YoY foot traffic increase. And LA Fitness and Anytime Fitness also held their own – with visits just 2.0% and 4.4% under January 2023’s already-impressive levels. 

A Regional Story

But the state of fitness isn’t only a national story – it’s also a regional one. Looking at January 2024 YoY fitness visits by state shows significant variations, with some areas seeing strong industry-wide growth, and some seeing YoY visit gaps. Major markets like California, Texas, Florida, and New York all saw visit increases – despite the unusually cold weather in some of these areas, including New York and Texas. Several states, including South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, and South Carolina, even saw visits to fitness centers skyrocket by more than 10.0%. At the same time, parts of the Midwest and South Central regions saw foot traffic dips.

Planet Fitness Dives into Multi-Channel Advertising 

Planet Fitness remains America's most-frequented gym, drawing millions of customers each year with low prices and a quality Judgement Free Zone. In January 2024, a whopping 59.3% of total visits to Crunch Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness, Anytime Fitness, and Planet Fitness – went to Planet Fitness’s vast club fleet. And in 2023, the category leader added 1.7 million new members to its rosters.

Given Planet Fitness’s incredible reach, it may come as no surprise that the chain has jumped on the media advertising bandwagon, announcing last month the launch of its own media network. The network will connect advertising partners with Planet Fitness’s growing audience, leveraging multiple channels – including in-club TV screens and other on-site promotional solutions. 

And a look at the demographic characteristics of Planet Fitness’s trade areas across major markets shows just how varied a customer base the fitness leader attracts – with clubs in different areas of the country drawing very different audiences. 

In California, for example, the median household income (HHI) of Planet Fitness’s captured market stood at $71.9K in 2023, 16.1% below the statewide baseline of $85.7K. But in New York, the median HHI of the brand’s captured market was $79.9% – 2.7% above the statewide baseline. And though Planet Fitness is squarely positioned as a bargain gym, a significant share of its captured market consisted last year of wealthy households earning more than $150K a year. This metric also varied across regions, as did the household composition of the chain’s customer base – with New York attracting customers from areas with disproportionately high shares of singles, and California drawing visitors from places with outsize shares of large households.  

Given the variation in its captured markets, Planet Fitness’s media network offers potential advertisers not just the ability to reach millions of customers – but also the possibility of creating targeted campaigns aimed at different locations’ specific audiences.

Key Takeaways

Gyms have flourished in recent years, buoyed by consumers’ growing emphasis on health, wellness, and affordable experiences. But will newly-committed gym rats tire as the power of their new year’s resolutions wanes? How will the sector continue to fare as 2024 wears on? 

Follow Placer.ai’s data driven analyses to find out.

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