New Zealand is home to over five million people, averaging one fitness club for every 13,888 people and nine sheep per every Kiwi. That’s the last of the sheep references, but check out these fascinating statistics about New Zealand’s gym & fitness industry.
New Zealand Within Top Ten Of Gym Membership Participation
- New Zealand gym memberships spiked by 32% between 2008 and 2013. By 2016, 15.6% of Kiwis held gym memberships.
- New Zealand ranks #10 on the list of countries with the highest percentage of gym memberships (13.6% of Kiwis).
Just How Active Are Kiwis?
The Kiwis don’t only swarm to the gym more often than most other countries. According to earth-shattering research from Sport New Zealand, New Zealanders are a very active bunch.
The three years of collected research (2017–19) revealed that:
- 73% of adults exercised within the last week.
- 90–96% of the under-18 crowd exercised every week.
- 59% of Kiwis hit the 150-minute-a-week exercise goal.
- Walking was the most popular activity, with 85% of Kiwis participating in the last year.
- Men train 36 minutes longer than women, on average.
- Adult Kiwis trained as little as 1.3 hours per week (75+) and as much as 2.5 hours (25–49 years old).
As for why Kiwis exercise, the top-ranked reasons in 2018 were physical well-being, emotional well-being, fun, and spending time with family and friends.
Who Are New Zealand Gym Members?
The total number of health clubs in New Zealand exploded by 50% between 2013 and 2017 (410 clubs vs. 690). But who are you likely to cross paths with at the gym in New Zealand?
For starters, research from Sport New Zealand divides the New Zealand fitness industry into four categories: “any,” sports club, fitness center, and rec center. (We’ll lump all four of them together because — unless you’re there just to shower — they all revolve around exercise.)
Men are slightly more likely to be gym members than women (48.3% vs. 40.6%). Gym participation also steadily declines with age. Sixty-one percent of young adults (16–24) held gym memberships in the last year, with that number sinking to 34.2% by 75+ years old.
Kiwi gym-goers are also, more often than not, “Pacific peoples,” low deprivation, and from secondary urban areas.
The Fitness Industry Has Grown Over the Last Few Years
- Kiwis had access to nearly 690 health clubs in 2017 alone.
- That same year (2017), the New Zealand gym industry eclipsed a $500 million value and a $120 billion value globally.
- New Zealand’s fitness industry has been on a steady upswing since 2010, soaring 6.5% with each passing year.
The Cost of Gym Memberships in New Zealand
Get a load of this. Unlike U.S. gyms where we shell out $10, $20 per month (and can’t cancel without a three-ring circus and a ritualistic offering of the blood of a virgin), New Zealand gyms charge by the week.
For example, a membership at Anytime Fitness could cost you $16.99/week — or $11.67 USD and $606 USD per year. That’s $210 more per year than the average U.S. Millennial spending.
But while that sounds somewhat affordable, it also requires a dicey 12-month commitment. A six-month or more flexible month-to-month plan could inflate the weekly cost by another $2–4.
Some New Zealand gyms also give you the runaround when trying to cancel. Not only will they charge you extra for canceling before your membership terms expire, but most gyms also require you to visit your gym in person and file paperwork to cut ties officially.
The Most Popular Gyms In New Zealand
New Zealand has its own share of popular health club chains, from big-name international franchises to New Zealand-only chains. Here’s a look at five fitness club brands Kiwis love:
- Snap Fitness is one of New Zealand’s leading gym chains, with dozens of locations throughout the island. A membership with Snap Fitness brings unlimited 24/7 access, free fitness classes, and access to the “Snap App” and its 1,200+ on-demand workouts.
- Les Mills has a dozen or so locations across New Zealand and puts a unique spin on full-body training. With fitness class offerings like Bodypump, RPM, and Les Mills Core, you can customize your training regimen to maximize calorie burn, build muscle, and match your training goals.
- YMCAs are neighborhood staples in New Zealand (and across the globe), known for their community outreach initiatives and often upscale fitness centers. Many Auckland-area Ys have a wide selection of fitness equipment, boot camps, and even indoor swimming pools.
- City Fitness has nearly four dozen health clubs in New Zealand with wildly affordable memberships beginning at just $6.99/month. Gyms are open 24/7 and feature a wide range of equipment from cardio gear to 50kg dumbbells, and group fitness classes — like 45-minute calorie-shredding HIIT sessions.
- Jetts touts over 50 New Zealand locations and prides itself in its affordability ($1.28/day) and unlimited access. In addition to on-site personal training, Jetts also hosts an exclusive eight-week challenge to guide you toward your personal fitness goals.
Canstar Blue ranks all these fitness franchises within New Zealand’s top six.
But despite earning three stars in the “value for money category,” Les Mills walks away from the Kiwis’ favorite gym with five-star ratings in every other category. (City Fitness trailed distantly behind in second.)
New Zealand’s Hottest Fitness Trends
The evolution of fitness habits is one of the most unpredictable areas of the gym and fitness industry. (Really, who saw trends like Apple Watches coming pre-2015?)
But before COVID forced lockdowns and nationwide panic that may have encouraged obesity, how did Kiwis stay active? According to the official Active NZ report from 2017–19, these were New Zealand’s favorite athletic hobbies in the previous week:
- Walking (58%)
- Gardening (24%)
- Individual workouts with weight equipment (22%)
- Jogging (20%)
- Playing games (16%)
- Cycling (11%)
- Swimming (9%)
- Group fitness (9%)
- Pilates & yoga (8%)
- Mountain biking (4%)
This top-ten list marks a drastic change in the exercise habits of New Zealand’s youth. Jogging, playing games, playing on the playground, and swimming led that list — which are all equally fun as adults but guarantees you a few awkward squints from bystanders.
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COVID-19 Impacts On Gym Memberships and the Fitness Industry
- Experts predicted a 19.8% decline in New Zealand’s fitness industry in 2021, with the COVID-19 pandemic to blame.
It Also Changed How Often (& How Hard) Kiwis Exercised
New Zealand reported its first official COVID case on March 22, 2020. By May, thanks to tough government-enforced lockdowns and closed borders, New Zealand was officially COVID-free. (Outbreaks inevitably erupted over the next two years.)
One study published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2021 analyzed how lockdown restrictions impacted the physical activity habits of 231 moderately and highly active Kiwis.
The highly active group did less weightlifting and exercised less at a lower intensity than usual after the lockdown began, but there wasn’t a significant change in their walking habits.
Meanwhile, the moderately active group exercised a lot more than their pre-COVID levels, but they did walk less and reduced their moderate-intensity training after the lockdown ended.
The Pandemic Changed Kiwi Fitness Habits
MindBody zeroed in on New Zealand’s “new normal” in terms of fitness habits during the COVID era. These are a few key takeaways from their report:
- 44% of those in locked-down areas reported exercising less, and another 37% trained about the same amount as pre-COVID.
- 74% of Kiwis maintained or improved their lockdown fitness habits.
- Of those who trained less after re-opening, a lack of motivation was the most commonly reported reason (68%).
- More than a third (37%) of Kiwis exercised 5–7 days per week after re-opening.
- 60% of New Zealanders will continue with virtual training.
- The most popular in-person and virtual workouts were yoga and pilates.
- Kiwis prefer boutiques over health clubs (73% vs. 55% consider themselves comfortable with the idea).
The coronavirus pandemic rattled the fitness and gym industry in New Zealand (and nearly everywhere else, for that matter). But if nothing else, the government shutdowns and sheer boredom inspired many Kiwis to turn to exercise as a healthy escape.
New Zealand may not be the most active country on earth, though it’s climbing the ladder for the most gym memberships and increased activity rates. Even if you don’t splurge on a weekly (yes, weekly) membership at one of New Zealand’s 300+ health clubs, you can stay active with:
- Home calisthenic workouts
- Digital workout programs like Athlean-X, BodyFit, or Beachbody On Demand
- Walking — just walking
- Physical hobbies, like biking, hiking, or swimming
- Decking out a home gym, complete with a bench press, dumbbells, an Olympic weight set, and more
Really, there’s no excuse to not stay active, whether you’re in the U.S., halfway around the globe in New Zealand, free to venture out, or in the midst of a nationwide lockdown.
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