Since 2016, we’ve conducted our annual State of Fitness survey, asking you to share every facet of your workout routine—what apps you use, how much you spend, what workouts you love, who you work out with, what motivates you, and what keeps you coming back to your favorite studios over and over again.
With three years of survey data under our belt, we decided to take a look at how the trends had changed over time, and how your answers give us a bigger glimpse into the state of fitness as a way of life and as a business.
Ready for a deep dive into everything fitness? Buckle up— this is a marathon, not a sprint. Let’s go!
First, here’s who YOU are and how you work out
Let’s start with the simple stuff: who you are and how you sweat. Of the 500+ people who took this survey in at the end of 2018 (and thank you, by the way!), a little over half of you rate yourselves as “intermediate” level fitness-ers, while nearly 40 percent know you’re at the advanced level. You tend to work out anywhere from 4 to 6 times a week, which is right in line with the American Heart Association’s recommendation that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.
For nearly two-thirds of you, your average monthly spend on fitness options (like classes or gym memberships) is between $26-175, with a quarter of you spending $75-125 each month.
Interestingly, our year-over-year data shows average fitness spend is down; you spent an average of $112.47 per month on fitness in 2018, while in 2017 you spent $123.37 and in 2016 you spent $125.50. (For comparison, other research has shown that the average American spends around $155 a month on health in fitness; however, the number found in that study includes health supplements, clothing/accessories, and meal plans, while our survey simply asked about gym memberships, studio classes, trainers, coaches, and app subscriptions.)
Makes sense—millennials (who made up over 84 percent of our respondent pool) are less financially well-off than previous generations, so they simply may be budgeting their wellness funds a little differently.
Your favorite workouts? Strength, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and yoga round out your workout schedule, all of which rose in popularity from last year. Yoga, which is up from 61 percent last year in our survey, shows other signs of trending up (like this research showing yoga and meditation are increasing in popularity), maybe as recovery in general becomes more popular (we’ll get into that later).
Running, interestingly, was a little less popular than it has been in previous years: in 2018, only 60 percent of you made running a part of your workout routine, compared to about 70 percent in 2017.
Why is running slowing down, so to speak? We have a couple of theories. First, the cost of entering a race has increased consistently since 2006, and according to a 2017 Running USA survey, 20 percent of runners expected to decrease their race participation in the coming year (maybe because half of them thought races were too expensive).
Another guess—the high-impact nature of running is leading athletes to turn to other, lower-impact aerobic exercises (like rowing) or to prevent injury via strength training and yoga.
Got an opinion on why running has decreased in popularity? Let us know in the comments or @asweatlife!
Everything is better with friends (and now we have proof)
We’ve been saying “everything is better with friends” for literal years now (since 2014, to be exact)—and this year, you showed us that you agreed. In addition to working out by yourself and in group fitness classes, 48 percent of you said you worked out with friends last year. Having a buddy by your side makes 78 percent of you a little bit braver when it comes to trying a new workout.
Even more exciting, 56 percent of you worked out at fitness events (like #Sweatworking or other fitness festivals)—which is a major increase from last year’s response of 46 percent. Plus, over 80 percent of respondents said they wanted to work out more with their friends at fitness events or special classes (so maybe this is the year you host a workout for your favorite charity or gather a crew together to hit up your local fitness festival).
In fact, a Thursday night work happy hour at the bar might be replaced by a team workout at a nearby studio: when we asked you to name the workout trends you were most excited about, one survey respondent said specifically that she enjoyed working out with co-workers as an alternative to the usual happy hour.
Do you work out with your friends? Why or why not? What are your favorite ways to workout with a friend? Let us know in the comments or @asweatlife!
I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it: on-demand fitness is trending
We’ve come a long way from the days of a hand-written workout plan or a torn-out magazine page guiding you through the gym. Now, you can tune in to a personal trainer on your phone, or cast a workout to your smart TV, or use a specific workout app to build your own programming to reach your fitness goals.
One of our biggest takeaways from this year’s survey was that people are way more open to using digital tools than they ever have been before (a takeaway that’s reflected in similar industry research, too). In each survey, we’ve asked participants whether they’d use any of the listed tools to work out: mobile apps, social media, blogs, YouTube, magazines, DVDs, on-demand videos, or none of the above. In previous years, “none of the above” has gotten the highest response rate out of all options. This year, however, only 17 percent said they’ve opted out of the listed digital workout tools, while over half of them said “yes” to working out via mobile apps.
Mobile apps, blogs and websites (like this one, for example), social media, and YouTube are your favorite digital workout options. While most of you still use digital fitness options for free (which makes sense, since there’s a ton of free content out there), you’re willing to devote a little bit of your budget to digital fitness, too: around 20 percent of you indicated that you spend $25 or less per month on your apps, videos, and fitness subscriptions (a huge increase from 2017, when only 8 percent of you spent that amount on digital fitness).
What technology do you use to work out? Or are you old school in your gym habits? Tell us in the comments or @asweatlife!
Best in class: group fitness and boutiques continue to dominate
But even though on-demand is trending, there’s nothing that can exactly replace the camaraderie, energy, and social nature of group fitness classes—and you guys agree. Around 88 percent of our respondents said they take AT LEAST one group fitness class a month, while one-fourth of you are what we’d call “super-users,” sweating in group fitness classes 16 or more times each month. That’s four or more classes a week!
More and more people are heading into the studio for their workouts, too. In 2017, 21 percent of respondents “never” went to class-based gyms. That number dropped to 19 percent in 2018 and 12 percent in 2019.
There are a lot of possible reasons you’re getting your butts to class: free or cheap intro classes for first-timers, finding instructors or studios you <3, charity-based classes, fitness events, or just trying something new with a friend (like we discussed above!). Or, maybe you’ve realized that working out in a group comes with a few added health benefits, like releasing endorphins through smiling or getting a little competitive with your neighbor. Plus, platforms like ClassPass and Mindbody make it easier than ever to book classes now, and ClassPass alone has completed 55 million reservations and has more than 10,000 partners.
While anecdotal complaints about the new ClassPass credit system led us to predict you’d spend less on ClassPass memberships, your average spending on group fitness was about the same as in previous years (around 85 percent of you said you spend at least $25 a month on some form of group fitness, either via ClassPass, a class-based studio membership, or drop-ins).
Are you a group fitness fanatic or a lone wolf in the gym? Tell us @asweatlife or in the comments!
Your favorite fitness trend: women in the weight room
Now, for the REALLY fun part—the trends you’re excited about this year and the instructors you love. We included this section as a way for you to recognize what keeps you coming back to fitness every day, whether that’s a specific instructor, a cult-favorite studio, a particularly awesome playlist, or a new-to-you way to sweat that you’re falling in love with.
By FAR the most common response to our question of “What workout trends are you excited to see more of in 2019?” was women in the weight room. You told us that “strong is the new skinny,” and you love that some instructors (hi, Ladies Who Lift!) are creating a community where women feel safe and free of judgment when strength training. As a team of four strong women here at aSweatLife (with two strong women and three supportive men on our tech side of the business), we were so incredibly excited to see this; we’ll take it as a sign that women are getting more comfortable taking up space (in the weight room and in life), and striving to become more instead of less than. Keep picking up those heavy dumbbells, ladies.
Along those same lines, you recognized that body inclusivity and positivity are having a moment. You told us, “classes are more fun when striving toward the next goal instead of feeling guilty about what you did or didn’t do” (or, ahem, when you’re not using physical activity as a means to punish yourself from eating).
You also spoke to the rise in recovery, through actually taking days off from the gym (gasp!), attending recovery classes like Kinstretch, or making yoga more of a priority. The industry has recognized this in research and trend-watching, too; a ClassPass study found that the number of people booking restorative classes grew 16 percent in 2017. In fact, if we look at the sheer number of you who told us you do yoga (yes, we know that yoga isn’t just recovery) in 2016 that number was 59 percent, in 2017 it was 61 percent and in 2018 it was 69 percent.
And finally, we loved reading all about the instructors that keep you coming to class time after time. There are way too many to name, but you gave a lot of props to Kate LeMere of Barry’s Bootcamp in Chicago; Will Haley of Flywheel Chicago; Betina Gozo of Nike; the crew at Studio Three in Chicago; and many more instructors around the country. (Did you nominate an instructor in this part of the survey? Tag them in the comments or on our IG with your shoutout!)
So, what did we learn?
In a word: TONS.
We learned that while you’re spending less on fitness (and you love affordable fitness options), you’re also viewing fitness as a social activity that’s better with your friends.
You’re more on board with on-demand fitness options (like apps, YouTube channels, and more) than you were even just a year ago.
Your running shoes *might* be collecting a little more dust than they used to, but you’re making up for it with more strength, HIIT, and yoga (and ladies, you’re getting stronger than ever).
An overwhelming majority of you turn to group fitness for at least one workout a month, and you’re WAY more likely to take on that new group studio with a friend at your side.
Want to know more about our survey and the trends we discovered? Let us know in the comments or @asweatlife and we’ll get nerdy with you.
Thanks to all of you who took the survey!