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New Survey Explores Shift in Fitness Activities, Future Purchase Behaviors

Business • November 5, 2020

By Nick Rigitano
NSGA Director of Insights and Analysis

DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS (November 5, 2020) – According to the latest wave of a survey conducted by Irwin Broh Research exploring the shift in consumers’ fitness habits and future purchase behaviors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both active and on-hold gym memberships declined since May. The number of people without gym memberships grew just over 10 percentage points. Furthermore, the study found that consumers are far less likely to be planning to reinstate an on-hold membership than they were earlier this year.

In terms of exercise habits, the percentage of consumers who indicated they were exercising at home by themselves increased by several points between January and May, but was largely flat from May to September, increasing only a fraction of a percentage point. Consumers reporting they were exercising at the gym by themselves, however, dropped sharply from January/February to May of this year. It dropped further from May to September, such that only around 1-in-5 of those who were doing this activity at the beginning of the year are still doing so currently.

In both May and September, just more than one-third of respondents reported owning a piece of large home fitness equipment. The percentage who plan to buy a large piece of equipment declined from 9 percent in May to 4 percent in September.

The latest wave of the survey was conducted Sept. 8-25, 2020 among 1,514 consumers age 18 or older who are members of a national online consumer panel. In total, 80% (1,212) of these consumers said they are currently participating in fitness activities.

Making the cost of participation more affordable for all is important which is why the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) has been lobbying for the passing of the Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act. This legislation would allow Americans to use Pre-Tax Medical Accounts, such as Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) or Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), to reimburse physical activity expenses, thus helping to alleviate a financial barrier to participation.

For more information about the PHIT Act as well as downloadable resources to use in spreading the word on social media, please click here.

For those interested in additional findings from the study, Irwin Broh will host a webinar Nov. 11, 2020. Registration for the webinar can be completed by clicking here.

For further information regarding the study contact Melissa DeLuca at

To view the initial wave of the Irwin Broh study in June click here