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Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi Report Fewer Participants for First Time in Years

Pilates, yoga and tai chi may be experiencing a plateau in growth. According to the most recent (2008) Sports & Fitness Participation Report from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), Pilates, yoga and tai chi lost participants in 2007. Pilates experienced a dramatic 15.9% loss compared with the previous year. Under 9.2 million people took Pilates in 2007, compared with over 10.9 million in 2006, according to the report. This year, the IDEA Fitness Programs & Equipment Survey, which gathers data on programs offered by IDEA members, found that Pilates held steady over the past 12 months, with 68% of respondents offering the discipline in both 2007 and 2008.

For yoga and tai chi, disciplines that were combined as one category for purposes of the SGMA report, the numbers reflected a loss in participation of 4.5%. Under 14.1 million people practiced yoga or tai chi in 2007, compared with over 14.7 million in 2006. However, in the IDEA survey, where yoga and tai chi are listed separately, the percentage of respondents offering yoga rose from 56% in 2007 to 61% in 2008; tai chi also registered a small increase in that time frame, rising from 22% to 24%, but this number still reflected a noticeable decline from 2000, when 35% of
respondents offered tai chi.

Perhaps current numbers reflect the fact that growth is becoming more stable and practitioners are settling into the activities they enjoy most. An alternative explanation could be that a continued shortage in qualified instructors is hampering growth.

For more information on the SGMA report, see www.sgma.com. For data and analysis from the 2008 IDEA Fitness Programs & Equipment Survey, see the July–August issue of IDEA Fitness Manager or visit the IDEA website, www.ideafit.com.

Shirley Eichenberger-Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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