Despite the multitude of on-demand workout streaming apps and boutique fitness studios that have popped up recently, exercise habits in America haven’t changed much over the course of the last three years: 

To get a clearer picture of the fitness space in the U.S. today, CivicScience surveyed over 1,700 Americans asking what they do for exercise: 

A significant amount of the U.S. population – 37% – doesn’t exercise at all. However, the two most popular options for exercising have one thing in common – practicality. 1/3 of Americans report that they get exercise outside by walking or running and 1/4 workout at home- using equipment like a treadmill or bike, doing cardio, or weight-lifting. Unsurprisingly, 37% of at-home exercisers also report that they work out outside. The convenience of being able to choose when, where, and, to some extent, how they work out is likely enticing to this group.

Behind those, gym memberships are the 3rd most popular method at 17%. Only 4% of Americans stream on-demand workout programs from their homes and 3% belong to a niche fitness studio like yoga, barre, spin, etc. However, not all gym-goers only work out in gyms – 9% partake in studio fitness, 8% play on a sports team, and 7% stream free fitness videos or classes.

We take a deeper look at the fitness space to identify trends among exercisers who use the most popular methods – at-home workouts, outside exercising, and gym fitness.

Lifestyle of Exercisers

Regardless of how or where they exercise, those who build workouts into their lives look very similar when it comes to habits and lifestyle choices: 

At-home exercisers and gym-goers are the most likely to be at least somewhat in-tune with new trends in the wellness space while outside exercisers are less likely. New companies in the industry may have a bit of a harder time reaching this segment.

Gym-goers are spending more time exercising compared to their counterparts. Unless you work out at a company, school, or residence building owned gym, you’re paying a gym membership fee. For some, this could be fostering a higher level of motivation than the free at-home or outside options do. Because they’re likely paying for a membership, it’s not surprising that gym-goers place a higher value on health and fitness activities. But, income also plays an important role — 40% of those who work out at a gym for at least some of their workouts make $100K or more annually. 

Fitness Technology  

While exercisers in the U.S. look similar in regards to their wellness habits, there’s a difference in how they’ve adopted newer technology in the digital fitness arena:

Gym exercisers are the most likely (24%) to use and like fitness tracking apps like MyFitnessPal, followed closely by at-home exercisers. But when it comes to wearable fitness trackers like Garmin, Apple Watch, or Fitbit, those who opt to stay at home to work out are the most likely to own and use them often (19%). Perhaps because they can’t track their in-home workout performance like you could with most gym equipment, they’re slightly more likely to want to understand their workouts.

Over time, we’ll continue to track changes in attitudes towards health and fitness and how Americans are choosing to work out. For now, we can bet that at-home and outdoor fitness will continue to be the favored choices.