A treadmill ($900), bench gear ($150), free weight set ($1,000), squat rack ($300), and
gym selfie mirrors ($100) turn a home gym into a once-in-a-lifetime investment.
A fully-stocked garage gym could register a $2,000+ price tag.
That $10-$20 monthly gym membership certainly sounds like a steal right about now.
But scoping out that 20,000 sq. ft. Planet Fitness — fitted with three rows of cardio machines and dozens of resistance training equipment — makes you wonder.
This place must cost millions to fully stock and maintain.
So, just how much are health centers shelling out on fitness equipment each year? And where’s the industry headed now that the obesity and inactivity epidemics are at record highs?
To learn more about this billion-dollar industry, take a look at these 15 statistical trends.
Table of Contents
Fitness Equipment Market & Growth
- The global sports equipment market is worth over $126.23 billion.
- The U.S. fitness equipment industry boasts an $11.5 billion value and is expected to climb to $15.2 billion in the next seven years (2027 estimate).
- By 2024, cardio equipment like treadmills, ellipticals, and recumbent bikes will make up 65% of the total fitness market.
- Of the 287 American-based equipment manufacturers, there are 6,559 employees.
- The ongoing push for home gyms is dominating today’s market (50% share).
This data is surprising for just one reason: Besides purchasing your own gym gear, when was the last time you thought about the global — or even national — fitness market?
So, let’s digest what these statistics mean for the rest of us and why some seem so surprising.
What’s Driving Growth?
Siphoning an extra $3.7 billion over eight years leaves us with just one nagging question: Why? Well, it’s the perfect storm of financial, health, and societal factors that’s bolstering it, like:
- The COVID-19 pandemic, overbearing boredom, and shuttered gym doors
- The fact that 95.7% of us have at least one underlying health condition
- Greater availability of fitness resources (clubs, trainers, apps, and wearable tech)
- Many health insurers offer steep discounts for gym memberships
- Gym memberships are no longer luxuries (some are $10/month for 24/7 access)
- Fitness options beyond standard split routines (spin, “the Mirror,” and CrossFit)
Although a bummer for modern society, we didn’t miraculously discover the health incentives behind exercise. We merely found new, cheaper, and more convenient fitness options.
And as digitized fitness alternatives become the unspoken norm, thanks to mainstream innovations like Peloton and FitBit, the industry will continue to grow.
The Mysterious Push For Cardio
The industry’s cardio arm sits comfortably at around 55% of the total market share. But the anticipated 10% increase (amounting to billions) in the next half-decade might seem baffling.
Why is cardio gear dominating the industry? (Hint: It’s not because gains are overrated.)
Controversial opinion: For the average American, aerobic training poses a laundry list of health benefits where powerlifting and weightlifting typically fail.
Obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes can be “lifestyle diseases” and could all be more manageable with 150+ minutes of moderate cardio a week.
After a blistering health diagnosis or disappointment on the scale, enthusiastic new gym-goers rarely make a bee-line to the bench press or wait in line at the squat rack.
Instead, they enroll in group cycling classes or hop on the treadmill.
- Of all fitness studios, about 65% set a $5,000 equipment budget, with 30% spending no more than $1,000/year on flashier gear.
- Strength equipment carries just 38% of the total market share.
- Cardio gear holds a firm grip on a staggering 55% of the market revenue.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only 12.7% of those aged 15 and older rely on cardio equipment during aerobic activity.
- The home fitness market is hardly slowing down, expected to jump from $6.76 billion (2019) to a whopping $8.62 billion by 2023.
Further dissecting the ever-growing fitness industry, it’s clear that we’ve been on a steady path for the last few years — at least in terms of where we do our spending.
So, if you raised a brow, shook your head, or sat in silence as you read these stats, let’s wade through a few possible explanations.
Strength vs. Cardio Spending: What’s the Deal?
In the last section, we talked about cardio equipment’s health incentives and why that edge of the market is seemingly thriving. Yet, now we see that strength gear trails by upwards of 20%.
When fitness studios (and even homebodies) spend <$5,000 on equipment a year, why does cardio gear eat so deeply into the budget?
The answers: Workmanship and modern trends.
Weight plates, barbells, and dumbbells can last a lifetime. That’s especially true if you unload the bar between workouts, shield it from excess moisture, and wipe it down with oil.
And aside from perhaps grippier knurlings or black oxide coating, they rarely need updating.
Cardio gear sits on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
Treadmills, stepping machines, and ellipticals hardly survive beyond ten years. And each year, the latest launches are game-changing — like personalized workouts and on-screen courses.
Top-of-the-line gyms will replace cardio equipment more often, even if only to stay up-to-date. The costlier market share is more an ode to equipment longevity.
Why Home Workouts are the “Norm”
2020 tested our patience and left dedicated fitness junkies to their own devices. But long before at-home workouts became the only option, the home fitness market was booming.
Thanks to foldable equipment (like benches and exercise bikes), no intimidating public crowds, and flat-out laziness (can attest), working out in the basement became the easy option.
Do you want to do a dumbbell workout in your pajamas in the living room? Go for it!
Is your $20/month monthly gym membership going to waste? Bodyweight home workout, it is!
Do you have bizarre exercise rituals? Well, in your home gym, you can blast those 90s hits, slap on your Crocs, and curl in the squat rack all you want.
Even though it could take ten years to begin saving cash, home gyms deliver convenience and comfort that standard clubs cannot. This $6.76 billion industry is well on its way to the top.
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Biggest Companies in Fitness Equipment
- The top names in the fitness equipment world include Amer Sports Corporation, Icon Health & Fitness, Torque Fitness, Brunswick Corporation, and Nautilus Inc.
- Amer Sports’ Precor division secured a two-year deal with Planet Fitness, home to over 15 million members and 2,000 clubs.
- Nautilus Inc. boasted more than $309.29 million in global net sales in 2019.
- With COVID-19 cases on the rise, Peloton’s sales skyrocketed by an astounding 172%, widening its market share by 270%.
- In just 12 months, the fitness enterprise harboring iFit and NordicTrack posted more than $1 billion in revenue.
Lifters dead set on going pro might only buy Rogue gear, and committed runners may be unrelenting Schwinn snobs. But for the rest of us, a brand name is the final determining factor.
Looking at the hottest names in fitness, there’s one undeniable trend: Popularity.
Anyone who’s channel-surfed in the last year has seen the tech-savvy NordicTrack, Peloton, and maybe even Nautilus gear grace the airwaves.
So, what is it about these companies that’s getting gym chains and Americans spending billions — and at much quicker rates than ever before? Well:
- As our screen time obsession grows, watching television, or following a scenic route on a gym machine is almost a no-brainer.
- The on-screen instructors (and competition aspect) provide a sense of encouragement when rookie motivation commonly dwindles.
- Not having to buy an entire 5-50-pound dumbbell set, getting more bang for your buck with multi-purpose fitness gear, and high-quality technology is undoubtedly alluring.
- The hive mentality is more vital than ever — once a friend or family member joins the club, even the priciest gear seems far more enticing.
But even more likely, we never want to be the last to hop on a trend. Remember when Livestrong bracelets, Myspace, and water bottle flipping were all the rage?
And then — poof.
Will these top brands continue developing cutting-edge fitness equipment five or even ten years from now? That’s unclear for now, but the potential is certainly there.
Visit the gym during peak hours (approx. 5-8 p.m.), and you’ll quickly discover the most popular gym equipment: Treadmills, free weights, and elliptical trainers. And for a good reason, too.
On top of breaking a sweat (cardio) and building a more muscular physique (resistance training), regular exercise can help with things like:
Weight loss (over 70 million Americans are obese or overweight) Heart health (nearly 48% of adults carry a heart disease diagnosis) Blood sugar control (34+ million Americans have diabetes, some without knowing it) Muscle maintenance (after hitting 30, muscle mass declines by up to 8% a decade)
The global fitness industry is only growing with each passing year. And in 2019, the market surpassed a massive $96 billion, with Life Time Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness leading the way.
Any market boasting billions (or even millions) in market share could be challenging to fathom. So, here’s how the fitness industry compares to other well-known market giants:
Tech: $3,212 billion
Fast food: $647.7 billion
Pet food: $87.08 billion
Sneakers: $62.5 billion
Music: $53.77 billion
The global fitness industry shows no signs of slowing down, clinching 8.7% growth in just one year — from $87.2 billion to $94 billion. By 2020, it reached the $106 billion threshold.
And yet, the global fitness industry goes well-beyond commercial health centers and standard at-home fitness gear. This industry growth is, at least in part, due to more:
Wearable technology (FitBits, Woop Bands, and Oura Rings)
Health & fitness apps (MyFitnessPal and MapMyWalk)
Boutique studios (Orangetheory, CrossFit, and Zumba)
Fitness professionals (one-on-one trainers and group fitness instructors)
The statistics above are eye-opening, staggering, and every other “that’s crazy” descriptor.
For us average Joes and plain Janes, it’s hard to imagine spending $120+ billion/year on everything from StairMasters and cable machines to resistance bands and dumbbells.
But here’s the thing:
These lofty expenditures often go to waste.
Hardly 24% of people make weekly gym visits, 80% are sedentary, 90% call off their gym endeavors within three months, and gyms are practically empty during off-times.
This rampant spending isn’t the “cure” to our growing health concerns. And a $500 bench or a $99/month luxury gym membership won’t make your goals that much more achievable.
It’s finding motivation (whether that’s bulking up or reversing high blood pressure), creating a routine that meshes with your lifestyle, and adopting an unrelenting attitude amidst plateaus.
Don’t succumb to market pressure!
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