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How is Inflation Impacting Fitness?

Survey reveals self-care spending.

Wellness workout

How is inflation impacting your clients’ fitness and wellness budgets? Are people tightening their belts not because they’ve lost weight, but because they have fewer dollars to spend at the gym? A recent survey asked these questions and more to find out how Americans are budgeting for their self-care.

Inflation and Fitness

In April, 2022, StyleSeat, a beauty and wellness company, asked 1,421 Americans what they buy to maintain their fitness and wellness routines. The average age of respondents was 37 and 46% identified as women, 46% as men, and 8% as nonbinary. One key finding: Although respondents reported that they anticipated that their beauty spending would decrease in 2022, they expected their fitness and wellness spending to increase. In fact, 71% of respondents do not plan to cut back on wellness spending despite inflation.

This is good news for the fitness industry, which is still recovering from the pandemic lockdowns. In 2019, there were about 40,000 fitness facilities operating in the United States, and approximately 200,000 globally. The lockdown cost the U.S. fitness industry almost $30 billion from March 2020 to June 2021, due in part to not being included in Congressional relief packages. Approximately 22% of U.S. health clubs closed for good (Burson 2022).

Many people are tired of working out at home and would like some in-person, external motivation from an expert. They’re ready to head back to the gym. Okay, great; but should personal trainers raise their rates during a time when the fitness industry is getting back up to speed and clients are dealing with rising lifestyle costs?

Yes, says Rick Richey, DHSc, MS, NASM master trainer, based in New York City. “Typically, rates should go up every year, this is common,” says Richey. “I’ve been working in the industry for many years and I remember the 2008 recession. I lost one client from that experience and, admittedly, the company I was working for at the time chose not to raise rates that year. As for whether or not trainers should raise their rates now, I know this isn’t a popular answer, but it depends. Most people aren’t going to flinch if you raise your rates from $100 to $105. If clients resist that change, you can work with them.”

See also: Raising Rates: Fear is the Real Issue

Wellness Spending Habits

The survey also asked people how much they spent on fitness and wellness, and what kinds of products and services in each category. In the fitness category, respondents spent their cash on gym memberships, studio classes, workout equipment, fitness apparel and vitamins and supplements. Their wellness budget was earmarked for mental health services, sleep aids, meditation tools and bodywork.

Beauty was the other category surveyed. The average respondent spent $110 a month on all categories, spending the most on beauty ($46), followed by fitness ($34) and then wellness ($30). Women and nonbinary respondent spent more ($124 and $114, respectively) than men ($94) in these categories overall. Generationally, Millennials spent the most of any generation at $115 per month.

The biggest fitness expenses were vitamins and supplements (36%), gym memberships (18%) and apparel (14%). Respondents prioritized mental health (19%) over bodywork (11%).

See also: Sell Mental Health and Wellness, Not Exercise

Prioritizing Health

Despite the spike in prices, the majority of Americans said they will not cut spending on fitness or wellness. In fact, 71% indicated they would either spend the same or increase their spending on wellness, while 66% said the same for the fitness category.

While the economy and current events in general are quite unpredictable, Americans seem to be fully committed to their self-care routines, which includes personal training and group fitness classes. As clients and participants return to their pre-pandemic lifestyles, or some semblance of it, fitness professionals can feel confident that their services are still very much in demand.


Joy Keller

Joy Keller is executive editor of IDEA Fitness Journal and IDEA Fit Business Success, and is also a certified personal trainer, indoor cycling instructor and yoga teacher (RYT 200). She has been working as a business to business journalist for more than 25 years and specializes in custom communication and content strategy/ production.

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November-December 2020 IDEA Fitness Journal

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