Americans are working out cheaper, study shows

Mon Oct 19, 2009 6:09am EDT
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Brother, can you spare a treadmill?

Economic hard times have Americans downsizing their workout equipment, trimming their workout budgets, and shifting their workout venues, according to a sporting goods industry survey.

Sales of fitness equipment took a hit for the first time in 20 years, health club membership dipped slightly and some regular exercisers were working out less in 2008.

"The fitness industry was not immune from the effects of a tough economy," said Tom Cove, president of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), a global organization which conducted the poll.

SGMA represents over 1,000 sports manufacturers, retailers and marketers around the world. They have published their study, Tracking the Fitness Movement, for 10 years.

The 2009 edition puts U.S. wholesale sales of fitness gear and equipment sold for use in home, clubs and institutions, at $4.2 billion in 2008, down from $4.7 billion the year before.

"People didn't have the money to buy new equipment as they have in recent years or the free time needed to exercise on a regular basis," Cove said.

Nevertheless, SGMA's online survey of 41,500 households found that more than 60 percent of Americans exercise regularly.   Continued...

<p>Clients work out on machines at the Bally Total Fitness facility in Arvada, Colorado June 15, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking</p>