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Press Releases

U.S. Fitness Industry: Treadmills are #1 Attraction

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association’s Tracking the Fitness Movement (2008 edition),participation in ellipticals is up 220% since 2000.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – August 21, 2008 – While the fitness category in the U.S. is showing signs of maturity, there remains potential for significant growth.

According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association’s Tracking the Fitness Movement (2008 edition), the fitness category has more participants than any other sport or athletic category, but it’s been a stagnant market in recent years. Right now, 34% of Americans exercise on a ‘frequent’ basis (100+ days a year); 10% exercise on a ‘regular’ basis (50-99 days a year); and 15% of the adult population is opposed to the concept of regular exercise. That means roughly 40% of the U.S. population is a target of opportunity for the fitness industry.

“While the listless economy, slowdown in home sales, and weakening consumer confidence are affecting sales of exercise equipment, health club memberships, and the additions of home gyms, the importance of getting and staying healthy has never been more important,” said SGMA Vice President Gregg Hartley. “Quite frankly, investing time and money into a regular exercise routine will decrease sick days, reduce visits to the doctor, and cut down on spending at the pharmacy. You’ll also feel better and be more productive. So, buying fitness equipment and joining a health club should be considered investments and not expenses.”

According to SGMA, the wholesale size of the fitness industry was $4.7 billion in 2007 – which represents gear and equipment sold for use in the home, clubs, and institutions, such as schools, colleges, hospitals, and hotels. Industry sales were $4.2 billion in 2004 and $3.9 billion in 2000.

Listed below are some of the highlights of SGMA’s Tracking the Fitness Movement (2008 edition):

Aging Gracefully. Among ‘core’ participants (50 days or more a year), there are more Americans over the age of 35 (19.1 million) using resistance machines and home gyms than those under the age of 35 (14.8 million).

Fantastic Five. The five most popular fitness-machine activities in the U.S. are treadmills, resistance machines, stationary cycling, home gyms, and elliptical motion trainers.

Inside the Numbers. Within this report, there’s a Data Bank which provides demographic details on 21 fitness activities ranging from abdominal machines to yoga/tai chi. Within each activity, there are charts and graphs which list total participants; participation by gender; participation by age group; the average age of the participant; the participant’s average household income; the participant’s average number of days of play in any given activity; and an analysis of the participation based on ‘frequent,’ ‘regular,’ and ‘casual’ play.

Home Sweet Home. According to SGMA, people who like treadmills, dumbbells, stationary bikes (upright bikes), and low-impact aerobics prefer the home environment to working out in a health club/gym.

SGMA’s Tracking the Fitness Movement (2008 edition) also contains three Special Reports:

Segmenting the Exercise Equipment Market: This is a survey of cardio and strength training participants. The figures are broken down by household income, age, and education. These statistics give you a better idea of the kind of people who are engaged in cardio and strength training routines.

PRIZM Finds Boomers Who Use Fitness Equipment: The PRIZM technology allows you to pinpoint neighborhoods where people live who are most likely to use and buy sports and fitness equipment. Access to this ‘intelligence’ allows manufacturers to better identify their target markets so they can maximize their advertising and promotional campaigns.

Americans Say They Are in Pretty Good Shape: More than 1,000 Americans (age 18 and older) were asked the following questions: (1) How would you rate your physical condition for your age? (2) Did you participate in any of the following (sports or activities) in 2007? (3) How much did you enjoy P.E. at school? and (4) Why do you encourage your children to participate? Those responded by saying they were (1) in average, good, or excellent shape or (2) in below average condition or (3) in poor condition.

Members of the editorial media are encouraged to reproduce and reprint any portion of Tracking the Fitness Movement, as long as SGMA is listed as the source.

This report is available free of charge to full and associate members of SGMA. To order a copy of SGMA’s Tracking the Fitness Movement (2008 edition), access

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, the owner of the Sports Research Partnership, is the global business trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry. SGMA enhances industry vitality and fosters sports, fitness, and active lifestyle participation. SGMA can be found at