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ActiveVoice: Are Gyms the New Sports Clubs?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Have you noticed there are more gyms and fitness centres popping up in your area?

Many are open 24/7 with all kinds of different options for personal training and group classes.

Gyms are meeting demand from busy people who care about their fitness and want to be able to train when and where it suits them.

We know that fitness and relaxation are the main motives, and time and cost are the most common barriers.

This is one of the major trends in research done by Sport NZ, measuring adult participation levels over the last 16 years. Sports club membership is down 11% and gym membership is up 4%.

Like the rest of the world, our sport and recreation participation is declining.

National weekly participation in sport and active recreation by adults aged 18+ has decreased by 8%. In 2014, 65% took part once a week, down from 73% in 1998. Volunteering has also declined.

This drop is especially marked for younger adults aged 18-24 and 25-34 and those with lower incomes.

“Life for many New Zealanders has become busier and time more precious. At the same time lifestyles are becoming less active because of automation and time spent in front of screens. In many communities, backyards and greenspaces are reducing,” says Peter Miskimmin, Chief Executive of Sport New Zealand.

People are less inclined to belong to a sports club, with more time tied up by work and family commitments. They are looking for sports and activity options they can do alone or with friends, independent of set schedules and with a variety and selection of choices. Gyms fit the bill.

Increases in gym membership were found across all age groups, ethnic groups and household incomes but particularly for women, adults aged 50-64, and adults identifying as Pacific.

However, gyms come at a price. Returning to the point that adults from lower income households show greater rates of decline in participation and affordability comes into play.

Let’s hope that in time gyms recognise the influence they have in getting more people more active, more often; that they have the foresight and the ability to create connections between people and their chosen sports, that they offer affordable training for events and become more of a community hub.

Will Gyms become the new sports clubs of the future?

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