Despite the increase in low-priced health clubs, 56 percent of people polled said that cost is the top barrier to joining a health club, according to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association’s (IHRSA) quarterly consumer study, “The IHRSA Trend Report.” That number is less than the 62 percent who cited cost as their primary barrier in 2008.

Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 and approximately 1964) were more likely to select cost as their top reason for not joining. Cost also was the primary reason that 38 percent of former members left their clubs. Three out of 10 respondents said they left because they were not using their membership, with men more likely to quit due to lack of use than women.

The study, which examines membership trends and consumer attitudes toward health club membership, was done in partnership with the Leisure Trends Group, Boulder, CO.

The study also found that 16 percent of Americans ages 16 and older were members of a health club in third quarter 2011, an increase from 12 percent in third quarter 2008. The generations with the highest membership percentage are Generation X (people born between approximately 1965 and 1980) and Generation Y (people born between approximately 1981 and 2000). Twenty percent of both groups are members of health clubs. The least likely to be members are Baby Boomers, with 12 percent of that group belonging to clubs.

The top reasons respondents cited for joining a club were to feel better about themselves (59 percent), to stay healthy (56 percent), to look better (49 percent), to lose weight (48 percent) and to maintain strength (45 percent). Respondents could choose more than one reason for joining.

Members continue using their club for a number of reasons. The top reasons were for overall health/well-being (61 percent), to get in/stay in shape/stay healthy (61 percent), convenient location (52 percent), variety of equipment (48 percent) and to make progress with their personal goals (41 percent).