NWPC Blog

Why are Millenials Spending so Much Money on Exercise?

The fitness industry has seen a rise in millennial participation, the growth of boutique fitness experiences, and popularity of the athleisure apparel industry. For a typically budget-conscious demographic, millennials are paying a premium for their fitness programs and associated apparel. Why?

Boutique fitness craze

The boutique fitness industry is booming. These studios offer fitness experiences vs. the standard individual workout found at traditional gyms. From boot camp to underwater spin classes, studio fitness is all about inspiring the participant and socializing workouts.

It’s no surprise that high end fitness studios cost more. They put the mantra “you get what you pay for” front and center by offering complimentary amenities, high-end equipment, hyper-personalized interactions with trainers, and a squeaky clean vibe.

Ultimately—gloss, glitz, and glamor aside—all fitness programs and gyms have the same goal in mind: to help people get great fitness results. By offering novel and fresh approach to fitness, boutique studios wrap the monotony of working out up in an attractive package.

Boutique studios are also appealing due to their social nature. They foster a feeling of inclusiveness and participants feel like they’re part of a special group of individuals that have shared a special experience together. Many studios sell specially branded merchandise to create an additional sense of belonging.

What is athleisure?

Simply put, athleisure is casual wear that is worn both to work out in and also for general use. Recent years have seen a cultural shift regarding what’s considered appropriate apparel to wear in public. As our culture has relaxed, so have our wardrobes.  According to NPD, active wear represented 17% of the apparel market in 2015.

Millennials are interested in comfort, function, and apparel that easily transitions from workout to running errands to grabbing a bite with friends. Additional research conducted by NPD found that 41% of millennial respondents had worn a sports bra in the past week, compared to just 21% among non-millennials. Of sports-bra wearers, 54% used them primarily for exercise, but 46% incorporated them into their everyday wardrobe.

Beyond comfort, millennials may also be seeking a lifestyle. Millennial purchasers gravitate toward brands that offer a community and purpose in addition to their clothing, because it provides an experience, one that contributes to their social lives and equips them with a sense of belonging.

The new happy hour

Now more than ever, exercise programs are seen as a chance to socialize with friends, often while sporting athleisure wear. “At least once a week I meet up with friends to work out. Afterwards we go out in our gym clothes for happy hour or meet up with other friends for dinner,” says Kelley Martin, a 30-something and member of a private racket and fitness club. “We all wear clothing that easily transitions from the gym to our daily activities. It’s comfortable and I get double duty out of many pieces in my wardrobe this way.”

It all adds up

In 2015, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) statistics reported:

  • $55 average cost of personal training session
  • $35 average cost for a small group training session
  • $101 average studio fees paid per month

While boutique training experiences are costly, many millennials also belong to no-frills gyms to supplement their workouts. IHRSA estimates that 86% of patrons of studio gyms also visit or are members of other gyms. These so-called budget gyms cost an average of $20 per month or less.  If they tack on additional personal training fees, exercise regimes get costly, quickly.

Is it a waste of money?

Does this mean that millennials are wasting their money on their seemingly indulgent fitness routines? Not at all. One thing all doctors agree on is the importance of exercise and movement for maintaining overall health and well-being.

Debbie Freeman, a financial planner noted, “The shape you’re in from your 30s to 50s is going to affect the shape you’re in in your 70s and 80s.” If clients need to cut their budgets, she advises them to start with alcohol or restaurants or cable. Exercise? “That’s one of the last places I’m going to tell them to slice,” she said. Additionally, the value millennials are getting by buying into these experiences and apparel brands may extend beyond the physical benefits of exercise.

Interested in exploring a nutrition and exercise program that’s best for you? The expert care providers at NWPC are happy to work with you in developing a plan that meets your health goals.