It’s no substitute for a Gold’s Gym or LA Fitness membership.
There’s no satisfying clinking of weights (music to your ears), nobody’s jumping to be your spotter, and the buzzing garage refrigerator next to the squat rack is taunting you with ice cream & beer.
But whether it’s a resistance band set rolled up and shoved under the coffee table or a full-fledged home gym in the basement, the fact of the matter is this:
Home is the new gym.
And, these home gym fitness facts and statistics may just convince you to cancel your membership (ha, good luck) and clear out the garage.
Home Gym Industry
The Home Gym Market Toppled $221 Million in 2019
A basement or garage gym used to be a badge of honor and a sign of wealth, normally collecting dust in sprawling million-dollar estates.
But in 2019, it became quite clear: home gyms aren’t a mark of luxury; they’re for everyone. U.S. home fitness equipment sales ballooned to a massive $221 million in that same year.
However, not everyone is buying $2,000 cable set-ups or oddly specific machines (like for the neck, calves, or preacher curls only).
The home gym market can include everything from resistance bands and yoga mats to $90 video bundles and ab rollers.
But one thing’s for sure: the nation with 42.4% obesity rates is aiming for fitness.
Home Gyms Carry a Startling 50% of the Fitness Market
But here’s a shocking tidbit: both home and commercial gyms share a 50/50 split in the market.
The explanation comes down to dozens of factors.
For example, if Americans are buying $5 resistance bands that snap in 60 days or budget barbells known to rust within a few years in a humid basement, they’ll need to buy new gear quite often.
On the other hand, commercial gyms spend, at minimum, $30,000 to stock up on modern gear. But since this equipment can last 10, 20 years, it’s a more substantial one-time investment.
In the long-haul, the commercial and home legs level out to be near-equal.
Home Fitness Industry Statistics
Home Fitness Gear Sales Climbed to Nearly $4 Billion In 2019
Even before COVID-19 forced home workouts into your orbit, the home fitness equipment market was on a steady and steep incline.
By 2019, the home fitness industry topped $3.98 billion.
To understand what’s driving the latest home gym popularity, we need to look at why people snub the traditional gym atmosphere in the first place.
That was the focus of a Better Survey, which found the most common excuses included:
- Not enough time (39.46%)
- Low confidence (16.55%)
- The busy gym crowd (14.28%)
- Childcare (10.11%)
(Oddly enough, a ‘fear of lycra’ — or spandex — ranked on the list, too.)
With a home gym in your basement, those fears and excuses all but disappear. You don’t have to drive 15 minutes there and back, nobody else will see you, it’s empty, and you’re still at home.
Anyone truly committed to bulking up, slimming down, or simply staying active can do all of that from home and without visiting a traditional gym.
Home gyms were the ‘alternative’ for a while, but now they’re the standard!
Brands Like Nautilus & NordicTrack Rule the Market
As home gyms continue edging health clubs out of the public eye, one thing is becoming clear: we’re very particular about which brands we buy.
The hottest home fitness gear manufacturers include:
- Brunswick Corporation (who also owned Life Fitness until 2019)
- NordicTrack (known for its digitized rowing machines, bikes, and the ‘Vault’)
- Nautilus Inc. (the masterminds behind Bowflex and Schwinn)
- Torque Fitness LLC (leads the customized gym equipment niche)
- Amer Sports (currently owns Louisville Slugger, Precor, and Sports Tracker)
- … among others
Of course, that doesn’t mean that brands like Cybex, TRX, or Life Fitness are slowly becoming less trendy. These manufacturers just own several brands and have a death grip on the industry.
Home Fitness Market Trends
Two Things Cap Market Growth: Low Space & High Cost
Here’s the unfortunate truth. Your home gym’s size and quality will ultimately come down to two things: how much space you have in your garage (or basement) and how tall your budget is.
(We’ll talk more about the space factor in the next stat.)
Now, according to HomeAdvisor, the average home gym comes with a soaring $2,000 price tag, though dropping anywhere between $300 and $15,000 falls within the ‘norm.’
Let’s take a step back.
The median American bank account held just $3,400 in 2016 (after COVID, that number likely plummeted even further). If you stock your gym in one go-round, you’ll forfeit 58.8% of that.
The market can only expand into untapped markets. But if that untouched market can’t afford a home gym, then market growth will ultimately stall (or even decline in the future).
The Home Fitness Market Will Grow By $1.86 Billion in 4 Years
When social distancing orders and closed health clubs meant Americans couldn’t sneak off to the gym five times a week, they got creative:
They brought the gym back home to them!
In response, the home fitness market climbed from $6.76 billion (pre-COVID) to over $9.49 billion by the time 2020 ended. By 2023, the market will likely settle around a more stable $8.62 billion.
But while Americans stocked up on dumbbells, weight plates, resistance bands, yoga mats, treadmills, and tech gadgets like Fitbits, the market will eventually hit resistance (pun intended).
The biggest culprit is space (home gym space, not the Milky Way).
Let’s say a home gym has 200 sq. ft.
You pile in a squat rack (10 sq. ft.), a treadmill (30 sq. ft.), a dumbbell area (50 sq. ft.), and a leg press machine (35 sq. ft.). Now, there’s only 75 sq. ft. leftover, which is just enough room to move.
If everyone built full-fledged home gyms during the pandemic, then now-limited space will ultimately put a damper on market growth.
Peloton Sales Soared 172% During the COVID-19 Pandemic
You’ve seen the commercials (dubbed ‘controversial’ by some), and you’ve likely caught yourself singing along when the beat drops and “Ready or Not” starts playing.
But Peloton doesn’t only have memorable commercials.
The question is: why are so many Americans willing to shell out $1,895+ for the bike and $12.99+/month on the digital membership?
For Peloton’s cult-like following, it’s like attending spin class without leaving the house!
You can join 10,000+ fellow riders in a live, instructor-led spin class with heart-thumping background music, helping you to climb the leaderboard and shred insane calories.
You may even see a few familiar faces, like Patrick Mahomes or Troy Aikman.
Yet, Peloton isn’t only the ritzy bike you see advertised on television. They also carry a treadmill (the ‘Tread’), and you can access Peloton-free workouts on the mobile app.
They didn’t know it at the time, but Peloton entered the fitness community at the perfect time.
March-August 2020 Cost American Gyms Some $13.9 Billion
Gyms nationwide shuttered their doors as governors imposed COVID-19 lockdown orders, but as the pandemic raged on, it became quite clear: COVID wasn’t going away any time soon.
In-person facilities like gyms were among the businesses hardest hit, with reports suggesting that the fitness club industry lost some $13.9 billion during the first six months of COVID-19.
Most gyms put a ‘pause’ on charging their members (in part responsible for the huge losses).
But fitness buffs didn’t binge Netflix, alcohol, and ice cream. Instead, they built home gyms, scoured the web for fresh exercise clips, and practiced calisthenics in the living room.
The boredom-triggered workouts blossomed into fitness obsessions. Americans realized that home workouts didn’t have to be a last resort to beat the gym crowds or cave to laziness.
It led to an uprising!
By July 2020, nearly six in ten Americans realized that a gym membership wasn’t necessary to stay (or get) fit and planned to cancel theirs.
Hopefully, health clubs can bounce back from this changing mindset!
Smart Watches, Jewelry, and Trackers Are Becoming the Norm
Who remembers waistband pedometers (and that annoying rattling sound), checking your heart rate manually, and only calling yourself fit if you hopped on the treadmill?
That was the ‘old days,’ which is ironically only ten or so years behind us.
These days, smart technology — watches, jewelry, trackers, what have you — are completely disrupting the fitness industry’s status quo, but arguably, in the best way possible!
The wearable tech industry is so trendy that it racked up $95 million in 2019 alone.
Gear like FitBits, Apple Watches, Garmins, Oura Rings, & WHOOP Bands isn’t just mainstream.
They also offer an unrivaled glimpse into our physical activity levels and overall health, even if FitBits are only ‘acceptably accurate’ in step counting 50% of the time.
Swipe the device or open the paired app, and you’ll discover things like:
- How far you’ve walked, swam, or climbed (in distance and steps)
- How many calories you’ve burned
- How long you slept last night
- What your resting heart rate is (and whether you’re exercising in your THRZ)
No, an Apple Watch or Garmin won’t replace your physician. But if you’re unusually exhausted or failing to make progress in your weight loss goals, fitness trackers may just hold your answers.
During the Pandemic, U.S. Adults Turned to Exercise Videos
The COVID-19 pandemic left regular gym-goers feeling abandoned, especially if they once relied on a personal trainer or group fitness instructor (whether for guidance, support, or motivation).
When gyms closed, Americans did what they do best: they turned to the internet!
Within a week or two of many states shutting down and word of COVID dangers spreading (March 26, 2020), a startling 16% of adults ramped up their online exercise video viewership.
Now, nobody popped in an old Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies VHS (… hopefully) or scavenged for that dusty P90X DVD. But they did turn to apps and YouTube clips for:
- Online fitness classes (sometimes hosted by chain gyms)
- Yoga & pilates
- HIIT & cardio
- Challenges (two-week abs, 30-day yoga, Camaraderie Challenge, etc.)
- Ten-minute home workouts
It was the best of both worlds. The average group fitness class costs about $40-60 per person (COVID saved you from that ripoff), and you no longer had to work out alone (well, sort of).
Even when COVID falls into the rearview, it’s hard to imagine these videos losing their popularity.
Three in Four Americans Say Home Fitness Is the Way to Go
With a surging coronavirus pandemic, shuttered gyms from coast to coast, and a desire to prevent the ‘Quarantine 15,’ Americans didn’t flock to Planet Fitness, Crunch, or the YMCA.
Instead, they stayed home!
A 2020 study discovered that 75% of Americans admit it’s easier to stay active without leaving the house. But the pandemic also threw America’s previous fitness attitude for a curveball.
The new-found at-home exercise obsession led to:
- 25% more exercise for the average American
- 70% confessing that lockdown triggered fitness priorities
- 74% turning to fitness apps
- 65% viewing exercise as a pure confidence-igniter
- 50% planning to nix their gym membership entirely
Lockdown and stay-at-home orders were eye-openers for would-be fitness buffs, even if they initially turned to fitness apps, jogging, and circuit training out of sheer boredom (52%).
But not everyone hopped on the bandwagon to get ripped or shed a few pounds (53%). Mental health (52%), stress relief (44%), and immune system-boosting (43%) also proved motivating.
Sure, these habits are tanking the health club industry, but at least Americans are getting fit!
Tips For Setting Up a Home Gym
Wait a second! Climbing down a flight of stairs to your own personal gym — with no equipment hogs, sweaty machines, or insane grunting to deal with — sounds like a dream come true.
But don’t buy that 80” tall, 42” wide, $800 power rack just yet. Slip your credit card back in your wallet for now; class is in session.
Here are a few tips for setting up a completely custom home gym:
- Select a room that’s consistently 65-74℉ with a stable 40-60% humidity. Basements, garages, and spare rooms on the first floor work well. Otherwise, you risk possible rusting or fast-tracked wear-and-tear.
- Think about sound (and possible noise complaints). If dropping or slamming weights fuels your ego, think about installing carpet to absorb the sound, soundproofing the walls, or limiting your workouts to mid-day. Be courteous if you live in an apartment. And it’s an all-around good idea to control those weights to reduce your risk of weightlifting injuries.
- Ensure you have 100-200 sq. ft. of space. A normal-sized bedroom seems to work well. The general rule of thumb is to have extra space to make the room feel less cramped. If you have a 200 sq. ft. space, limit equipment to 100-150. Look at measurements first.
- Add some entertainment. There’s no need for a 50” flatscreen TV hung on the wall. But a small TV, a radio that you can hook your smartphone into, or even a projector screen can keep boredom from seeping in too soon.
- Keep your budget in mind. Ask yourself whether you need it or if you simply want it. Buy the meat and bones first (dumbbells, bench, barbell) before splurging on more specific machines, like a leg curl or leg press. You can also catch sweet deals on Black Friday!
- Don’t forget to add some pizzazz. A large gym mirror hung on the wall can help you watch your form. But don’t be afraid to paint the room something other than bland white, hang motivational posters, or keep your gear to certain color schemes (ex: black & red).
There’s no sense in dropping hundreds (or even thousands) on a home gym if it doesn’t send excited chills down your spine, is too cramped, or gets on your neighbors’ nerves.
Don’t be a part of the $221 million industry while letting your gear collect dust.
With an average price tag of $2,000, investing in a home gym may empty your checking account.
But if you don’t have the money to splurge (or a beefy tax refund sitting in your mailbox), buying gear one by one can be a little gentler on your wallet.
Start to build your home gym with the following ‘basic’ gear:
- (optional) Resistance bands, yoga mat, stability ball
- Adjustable dumbbells
- Squat rack
Once you’re proud of your gains and have a little extra spending cash, you can invest in more specific equipment: deadlift blocks, preacher curl bench, Romain chair, or ritzy cable machines.
Remember: there’s no rule that you can’t still have a gym membership if you also have gear in your basement or garage. Sometimes, a little change in scenery (and socialization) is refreshing!