BOSTON — While it is an acknowledged industry fact that about 13 percent of Americans belong to a health club, some locales are carrying a little extra weight — and this time it is a good thing.

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association recently announced the 25 U.S. states and cities (metro areas) with the highest rates of health club membership, according to data collected in the 2002 IHRSA/American Sports Data Health Club Trend Report.

But unfortunately, even those states and metro areas that are leading the way, still only attract about 20 percent of the eligible population, showing that despite a good job there is more work to be done as an estimated 60 percent of the population is overweight or obese and growing steadily.

The national study found that among U.S. states, South Dakota, for the second consecutive year, had the highest percentage of health club members with a projected 20.6 percent of state residents (over the age of six) belonging to a health club or fitness center. Massachusetts followed with 18.5 percent and Nevada with 18.3 percent.

Denver ranked as the top city in the country with 21.2 percent of its residents belonging to health clubs, moving up from second place in 2001. In second place, San Diego with 20.4 percent was followed by Boston with 20.3 percent. Orlando, last year's top city, fell to fourth place with 19.7 percent of its residents belonging to a health club.

U.S. health club membership grew to a record 36.3 million members in 2002, up from 33.8 million members in 2001, according to the association. Americans over the age of 55 yielded the largest increase in membership numbers, growing 23 percent from 5.6 million members in 2001 to 6.9 million in 2002.

The industry will have to keep up that pace of growth [about 2.5 million new members a year) in order to reach the lofty 50 million members in the United States by the year 2010 initiative launched several years ago as part of a worldwide goal of 100 million members in the same time frame.

“The U.S. health club industry continues to thrive,” observed John McCarthy, executive director of IHRSA. “As Americans become better educated about the serious health implications associated with leading a sedentary lifestyle, more people will turn to health clubs for a fun and supportive environment where they can achieve their individual fitness goals. I am encouraged by these findings and know that the club industry is committed to helping more Americans experience the tremendous benefits of an active lifestyle.”

Rank State Participants per 100 people Rank City (metro area) Participants per 100 people
1 South Dakota 20.6 1 Denver 21.2
2 Massachusetts 18.5 2 San Diego 20.4
3 Nevada 18.3 3 Boston 20.3
4 New Hampshire 17.8 4 Orlando 19.7
5 Vermont 17.5 5 Phoenix 18.5
6 Colorado 17.3 6 Indianapolis 17.3
7 Virginia 17.1 7 Sacramento 17.2
8 California 16.6 8 Los Angeles 17.1
9 Arizona 16.5 9 Las Vegas 16.8
10 North Carolina 16.1 10 Chicago 16.5
11 New Jersey 15.5 11 Miami 16.4
12 Illinois 14.6 12 Tampa 16.3
13 Connecticut 14.3 13 San Francisco 16.1
14 Texas 14.3 14 New York 15.7
15 New Mexico 14.2 14 Detroit 15.7
16 Florida 14 14 Minneapolis 15.7
17 Maine 13.8 17 Dallas 15.1
18 Washington 13.7 18 Columbus 14.8
19 Georgia 13.3 19 Cleveland 14.6
20 New York 13 19 Seattle 14.6
21 Delaware 12.9 21 Atlanta 14.2
22 Michigan 12.9 22 Portland 14.1
23 Oregon 12.7 23 Norfolk 13.9
24 Ohio 12.6 23 Houston 13.9
25 Tennessee 12.5 25 Washington 12.5
source:IHRSA/ASD