Boston — The total number of health clubs in the United States grew during the second half of 2001, reaching a record 17,807 facilities by January 2002, according to IHRSA. The growth of health clubs and fitness centers in the totaled 5.1 percent, growing from 16,938 clubs in January 2001 to the nearly 18,000 facilities by January 2002. The increase represents the fourth consecutive year that the number of health and fitness centers in the U.S. has grown, and translates into a 41-percent increase in the number of clubs since 1992. While the increase is still impressive, this 870-club rise equates to just half the number of clubs that opened during 2000, a stellar year for the health club industry.

According IHRSA, the growth in the number of health clubs provides even more evidence of the industry's ability to resist economic recession.

“What is particularly encouraging is that the number of clubs continues to grow during the second half of 2001,” said John McCarthy, executive director of IHRSA. “Another roughly 275 clubs opened between July 2001 and January of this year, representing a 1.5-percent increase, even as the country's economy slowed.”

During the last period of economic recession in the United States, consumer demand for health clubs remained steady. Between 1989 and 1992, the number of health club members remained at 21 million, and thus far in 2002, anecdotal evidence indicates that Americans continue to join health clubs.