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9th Annual 2004 IDEA Fitness Programs & Equipment Survey

Survey Respondents

The demographics of the businesses where the respondents work.

  • According to industry definitions, “multipurpose” health clubs have fitness facilities and racquet courts. “Fitness-only” health clubs have fitness (group exercise and/or fitness center with equipment), but no racquet courts. Either type of club may have a swimming pool or gymnasium
  • Respondents were 47% owners, 8% general managers, 16% fitness directors, 10% program directors, 3% personal training directors and 9% group fitness directors/coordinators. The rest had a variety of titles.

Program Profile

How owners and managers describe their business and porgrams

Facility Facts

  • 32% have a swimming pool available for fitness classes.
  • 54% sell products or have a pro shop.
  • 42% charge dues plus a separate fee for some classes or programs.
  • 62% ask clients to pay for individual sessions/classes or packages of sessions/classes.

Customer Profile

How owners and managers describe their clients

  • Percentages in this section are likely the respondents’ estimates or observations. Respondents may not have had reference data.
  • The estimated percentages do not equal 100% because of rounding.


  • Strength and cardio equipment remain the firm foundation for most businesses.
  • Respondents see that equipment use is stable or growing. Stable is good when there is such a high percentage of use.
  • Elliptical trainers appear to have surpassed stair climbers in popularity with
    consumers, a trend that has been tracking for several years.
  • Balance equipment was added to the survey for the first time this year, and it immediately appears as a frequent offering, undoubtedly due to the emphasis
    on core conditioning and balance training.
  • Small equipment continues the upward march. Balls of all sizes are being used.
  • Almost all of those with swimming pools (32%) use water-specific
    equipment (31%).
  • Computer software is well used by the relatively few who have it.

Program and Activities

  • Pilates and yoga classes are regulars on the fitness program schedule, with
    an average of 10 classes offered each week.
  • Successful programs are directed to the exercisers. A seniors’ or kids’
    program may be going great in a suburban family-oriented facility
    but not be offered in an urban corporate wellness center.
  • Equipment continues to be the base of many popular programs.
  • The term combined means that subcategories have been added together. “Personal training (combined)” adds together one-on-one, 2 clients share and small-group. “Strength training in group (combined)” includes no music, background music and choreographed to music. “Aerobics (combined)” adds together high-, low- and mixed-impact.

How to Read the Numbers

The percentage (%) reflects the number of survey respondents who answered yes to a given survey question. All percentages have been rounded up at 0.5 and down at 0.4. Percentages do not necessarily total 100, because of multiple or missing responses.

The mean, or average, is all of the answers added together and then divided by the number of respondents. An average can be influenced by extremely high and extremely low numbers. In some cases, the extremely high and extremely low responses were eliminated to present a more accurate number.

The median is the midpoint, meaning that half of the respondents answered above and half answered below. A median is useful because, unlike an average, it is not influenced by high and low extremes.


In April 2004, three e-mails were sent to IDEA business and program director members who gave IDEA permission to contact them. Respondents linked to a Web-based survey. There were 281 completed questionnaires from the United States and Canada for a 15% response rate. At a 95% confidence level, the margin of error is +/– 5.4%.

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