BOSTON -- Member clubs of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) reported steady to improved performance in July. The results were part of a new Monthly Trends Survey from IHRSA.

For the month of July 2009 relative to July 2008, 67 participating IHRSA club owners indicated comparable or improved performance in several key areas of business. Although many club owners reported declines in membership dues (45 percent), membership accounts (42 percent), and non-dues revenue (37 percent), the majority of participating clubs reported similar or improved performance. Over half of respondents indicated steady or increased membership dues/fees revenue (19 percent steady and 36 percent up) and number of membership accounts (17 percent steady and 41 percent increased). For non-dues services, 35 percent indicated comparable revenue to July 2008, and 27 percent indicated increased non-dues revenue.

“Consistent performance in these vital indicators during what is a typically an off-peak month in the industry and within the context of a tough economy indicates that club operators are closely managing their businesses,” Melissa Rodriguez, IHRSA’s manager of research, said in a statement from IHRSA.

Respondents also reported favorable performance in other aspects of operations year-to-date as of July 31, 2009, relative to the same time frame in 2008. Forty-nine percent of participants said that overall member and non-member visits were up for the first seven months of 2009 in comparison with the same time span in 2008. Forty percent of respondents indicated declines in EBITDAR, 27 percent indicated it was the same and 33 percent indicated it was better. IHRSA noted that this implies that in addition to improving profit centers, club operators may also be wisely managing expenses.

Revenue improvements and expense management may be helping club owners and managers stay on track with plans to make capital expenditures in equipment, expansion or remodeling. Sixty-six percent of respondents indicated plans to make such investments over the next three months. Over half indicated making such expenditures for equipment in the last three months.

“In spite of economic conditions, clubs are committed to adding value to memberships by planning for expenditures to improve operations and enhance club offerings,” Rodriguez said.

Seventy-nine percent anticipate equal or increased revenue over the next three months.

IHRSA’s Monthly Trends Survey will gather qualitative data on club performance throughout the year, according to Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s executive vice president of global products. The survey will collect information from individual club locations about membership dues/fees revenue, non-dues/fees revenue, EBITDAR, club attendance, capital expenditures and the general business outlook for the fitness industry.