A recent poll of an online community of 176,000 users found that most respondents (52.6%) prefer working out outside of the gym.
The world of fitness, like many of us, is constantly evolving. Technology, global events, and a renewed emphasis on personal well-being have played significant roles in shaping our lifestyle choices—including the choice of where and how we exercise.
In our recent poll, we tapped into this very sentiment. We asked a diverse group of fitness enthusiasts about their preferred workout environments, aiming to paint a clearer picture of the current fitness zeitgeist. Of those who responded, only 47.4% plurality cited that they prefer working out at a gym over other spaces.
While gyms still hold their ground, there’s a noticeable drift toward the comforts of home workouts and outdoor training evidenced by these poll results.
Counting 525 votes from registered social media users, a plurality of respondents (47.4%) said that the gym was where they preferred to work out the most. A majority of respondents (52.6%) indicated that they prefer to work out elsewhere. Figure 1, below, displays the raw survey results upon the poll’s conclusion.
Figure 1: Survey results in numeric form
While the gym was the clear choice among the three options available, a sizable minority (37.9%) favored their home as their ideal setting to work out in. The least-favored setting was the outdoors, which garnered only 14.7% of the vote share.
The responses are listed below in percentage form and ranked from highest to lowest.
- Gym: 47.4% (249)
- Home: 37.9% (199)
- Outdoors: 14.7% (77)
In Figure 2, below, the survey results are redisplayed as a pie chart to visualize the differences in response sizes between the various options.
Figure 2: Survey results in percentage form
The survey was conducted by Gymless.org, a free educational resource for calisthenics and bodyweight fitness information.
According to the survey authors, the findings shed light on the cultural shift that has transpired within the fitness community over the past few years. Indeed, the pandemic-era “home-workout revolution” appears to have had considerable staying power as some experts expected.
Amine Rahal, Founder and CEO of Gymless, had this to say about the survey’s results:
“I’m not entirely surprised to see this poll reveal a shift in training preferences. The global landscape of health and fitness has been evolving, especially in the post-pandemic context, with an increasing emphasis on holistic well-being, convenience, and adaptability.
While 47.4% of respondents still find value in the structured environment of a gym, a significant 37% are discovering the convenience and comfort of at-home workouts. Additionally, the 15% opting for outdoor training are tapping into the benefits of nature, fresh air, and expansive spaces, which can be mentally rejuvenating. It’s essential for our industry to recognize these evolving preferences, ensuring we offer diverse, adaptable solutions catering to every individual’s unique fitness journey.“
Several reports in recent years have indicated that Americans prefer to work out at home as opposed to in public venues. One article found that, among those who said they worked out regularly, nearly double cited that they regularly worked out at home. The same report stated that at-home exercisers are 21% more likely to work out at least once per week than gym-goers.
Similarly, another pandemic-era report found that a strong majority of respondents (58%) preferred working out at home instead of at a gym (23%) or in outdoor spaces (19%). While the shifting preferences indicated by this survey are not new, these results help solidify our understanding of this emerging trend and provide further evidence of its existence.
Respondents’ motivations for preferring at-home fitness sessions were not specified. However, there are various systemic and personal barriers that prevent people from going to the gym, including financial limitations or concerns surrounding negative peer judgment. These barriers underscore the need for greater public education in at-home fitness instruction, which helps prevent injuries and unsafe movement.
About the survey, Liam Hunt, an author at Gymless, commented that:
“While it could be that preferences are changing in the fitness community, longstanding issues regarding perceived judgment from others have kept people from public gyms for a long time. Some people feel vulnerable in gyms, especially those who are new to working out, and therefore prefer the privacy of their home or local park instead of a dedicated training space where potentially judgmental gym-goers may be found. These results speak to the necessity of home fitness education and qualified instruction on how to safely perform movements at home.”
The survey was held on Friday, September 22, 2023, during business hours EST. The survey polled a population of registered social media users who follow an online fitness community and message board.
All approximately 176,000 users were polled, of which 525 submitted a formal response. The survey consisted of male and female respondents at least 13 years of age, and there were no geographical restrictions on participation.
Convenience sampling was used, and the survey results are not necessarily scientifically representative of any population. The findings of the survey are for exploratory purposes only.
These survey results offer valuable insights into the broader context of our fitness culture.
One message resonates clearly in these poll results: the world of fitness is as diverse as the people who inhabit it. The once dominant gym-centric approach, while still significant, now shares the stage with home workouts and outdoor training.
While there are diverse reasons why fitness enthusiasts might opt to work out in their living room or backyard, it’s important that fitness professionals respect this personal choice and place a greater emphasis on their at-home fitness instruction and programming.
This shift underscores the importance of adaptability, personal comfort, and the desire for variety in our routines. It’s a testament to the innovation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, as we’ve sought ways to keep fitness integral in our lives, no matter the circumstances or settings. As the fitness landscape continues to evolve, let’s celebrate the many paths to well-being, and most importantly, the shared passion that unites us all.
Amine is a Toronto based entrepreneur who is passionate about Fitness, Diet and Health. He is passionate about teaching other entrepreneurs and “office workers” how to stay fit using simple yet effective bodyweight workouts that can be accomplished anywhere.