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New Zealand Fitness Industry Overview



This is a brief profile of the New Zealand Fitness Industry.

What Makes Up the New Zealand Fitness Industry?

The New Zealand Fitness Industry is made up of around 300-360 club operators and an unknown yet substantial number of personal trainers running either:

  • Personal training studios
  • Home-based personal training business; or
  • Outdoor based personal training businesses

On average there are 11-15 employees per workplace, and if you remove the larger fitness clubs and chains the average is closer to 6-8.

Turnover in the industry is estimated at around $160 million although some of the latest estimates put turnover at around $250 million.

There is a large number of personal trainers in the New Zealand Fitness Industry with around a 50/50 split between employed and contracted trainers.  A typical ratio of one trainer for every two hundred members is maintained in most clubs although this varies widely depending on club demographics and services.

The number of group fitness instructors is significant as the delivery of a timetable requires large numbers of mainly part-time contractors often co-ordinated by an employee.

In total it is estimated that fitness employees and contractors number somewhere between 4000-5000 in total.

Businesses in the New Zealand Fitness Industry

What Market Space Does the Fitness Industry Occupy?

Fitness clubs offer a wide range of solutions to members, some of which include:

  • Weight loss
  • Muscle toning
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Stress management
  • Injury prevention
  • Injury rehabilitation

Fitness clubs compete for customers with each other, and with any other organisation that delivers solutions that meet the same needs.

In the weight loss area alone this would include;

  • Pharmacies
  • Jenny Craig
  • SureSlim
  • Hypnotists
  • Home equipment retailers
  • Sports clubs
  • Online weight loss tools
  • TV promotions of shakes and equipment
  • Dieticians and nutritionists

The market for health and fitness is huge, but the competition is also significant.  It’s important to identify the unique selling points of the fitness industry when compared to many of the other solutions offered to customers.

Unique Features of the Fitness Industry

Some unique features of the fitness industry include:

  1. Qualified staff – the fitness industry has some of the most highly trained people of any organisation in this market space.  The trainers of the elite come from our industry as do many new products and approaches.  Fitness staff offer a broad skill set and greater value than many of their competitors in this market space.
  2. Follow up – our industry is fed by retention and should focus on helping members attend, adhere and rejoin.  Where most other products or services in our market space ‘sell once’, we must convince a customer to come back again and again.  This is difficult, however once accomplished we’ll have a repeat customer for many years.  We’re also more likely to create advocates who’ll endorse and openly refer new members.
  3. Variety – we offer a wide variety of exercise ranging in type, level of supervision, demographic and fitness focus.
  4. Multiple service levels – we offer customers the ability to purchase more service if they want it providing everything from group fitness, to consultancy, to personal training.
  5. Community – we have people exercising together and our staff can help people enjoy each other’s company and feel like they belong.
  6. Adaptable solutions – we offer people the opportunity to change their goals, achieve one thing and then try another.

So whenever a potential customer ‘comes to action’ we are just part of the landscape of opportunities open to them.  Our uniqueness can be our strength if we consistently communicate it and deliver.

If we don’t we fall back into the mix and on a ‘sales’ or ‘product alone’ basis we lose our uniqueness.  Most of what we can do to set ourselves apart as an industry revolves around how we look after our customers.

Churn and Burn

IHRSA (International Health Racket Sports Association) in a report in the late 90’s identified that the ‘churn and burn’ approach to membership sales was a real challenge for the industry as it built up animosity in the customer base and was expensive to maintain.  Given 50% of all new club members were previous club members somewhere else, the ‘burning’ of members is not a good long term strategy.

Again, our focus as an industry, whether a personal trainer in a studio, large club, group fitness solution, or boot camp in the park, needs to be participation and ongoing support of customers.

What are New Zealand’s Current Activity Levels Like?

There is no shortage of evidence that fitness clubs should be popular in the future, if they are well set up and staffed.

SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand) gives the following picture:

  • Intent to be more active:  Among adults, 57% would like to spend more time taking part in sport and active leisure.  Men and women are equally interested in being more active but for those adults aged 65 years or over levels of interest in being more active decreases to 32%.
  • Fitness club membership:  Around a third of New Zealand adults (36%) who have participated in a sport or physical activity in the last four weeks are currently active members of a club (sporting) or gym.  Men are more likely to be sport club members than women (41% and 31% respectively)
  • Health club membership alone:  It is estimated that around 8-9% of New Zealanders hold gym memberships at any one time.  That’s around 400,000 members today.

How Healthy is New Zealand’s Body Weight?

In research looking at the obesity epidemic the Ministry of Health reports the following:

  • 17% of all New Zealand adults are obese
  • An additional 35% of all adults are overweight – so, half of the New Zealand adult population is either overweight or obese
  • Obesity in New Zealand increased by 55% between 1989 and 1997
  • Based on current data, obesity will increase by an estimated 73% by 2011, to 29% of all adult New Zealanders.
  • In 1996 the annual cost of obesity was conservatively estimated to be $135 million.  This figure excludes downstream health costs from chronic diseases that result from obesity.
  • The health care cost of diabetes alone is an estimated $280 million per year.  The cost of coronary artery disease was an estimated $306 million to $467 million in the early 1990s.
  • More than 1,000 New Zealanders die each year from obesity-related diseases – double the annual road toll.

How is the New Zealand Fitness Industry Structured?

The below diagram shows most of the organisations within the New Zealand fitness industry.

Roles of Organizations within the New Zealand Fitness Industry

Below is a list briefly explaining the roles and responsibilities of the organisations within the New Zealand Fitness Industry.

Industry Employers

These are all the places a fitness professional may work, or anywhere a customer may seek fitness services.

They include:

  • Smaller corporate fitness clubs
  • Franchises
  • Large club chains
  • Home-based personal trainers
  • Outdoor personal trainers
  • Community clubs (e.g. YMCA)
  • Personal training studios
  • Student recreation centers
  • Council gyms
  • Working mens clubs
  • Large stand alone fitness clubs,
  • Women’s only gyms

Skills Active

Skills Active is a mostly government funded body responsible for setting and quality assuring academic standards in line with the fitness industry’s needs.  It submits these standards to NZQA to become national standards on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).

If there was a serious accident at a gym, and the national standards were shown to be out of date, Skills Active would be required to make modifications to the standards.

New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)

NZQA administers all of the standards on the National Qualifications Framework including the standards that make up the national qualifications in fitness.

National Qualifications Framework

The National Qualifications Framework is a database that contains all of the national standards and qualifications in New Zealand, as well as a record of learning for any student who has studied and attained them.

Accredited and Approved Education Providers

These are education providers who have been ‘approved’ by the government’s quality assurance body (usually NZQA) to deliver education under the Education Act.  They receive government funding as a result.  The providers are encouraged to deliver national qualifications but can also deliver ‘regional’ qualifications if they can show there is a ‘regional’ requirement that is different from the national requirement.

They must also be ‘accredited’ to deliver the nationally registered fitness standards by Skills Active.  Some of these providers may also have registered their courses with REPs (see below).  Where this has occurred the graduates of these courses may be entitled to automatic REPs registration.

If a serious accident occurred at a club and the national standards were updated by Skills Active as a result, the accredited education providers would then be required to update their courses to meet the new requirements.

Non Accredited Education Providers

These education providers have not been approved by the government’s quality assurance body to deliver education under the Education Act.  They may however have REPs registration.

Career Services

Career Services are responsible for being a leading provider of career information, advice and guidance in New Zealand.  They aim to provide all New Zealanders with access to the best careers information & advice to achieve their life goals.  This means they promote the importance of career planning at every stage of a person’s life.

Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs)

REPs is a registration system that fitness professionals, clubs, or education providers can choose to register with.  It is not mandatory, it is a participatory system.

REPs could de-register an individual if there was a serious accident at a gym and the individual or club was shown to have been negligent.

Exercise Association of New Zealand

Exercise Association of NZ represents some of the owners and suppliers within the New Zealand fitness industry.  Members access information and resources, can be connected and have their interests promoted through various initiatives.  Usually if something major happens in fitness the media would contact the Exercise Association for comment.


WorkSafe provides best practice information and guidance to assist New Zealand businesses with health and safety in the workplace.

It also:

  • Inspects workplaces to check on safety and health arrangements
  • Investigates accidents at work; and
  • Makes sure employers and employees comply with health and safety legislation

If there was a serious accident at a gym it is likely WorkSafe would investigate.

Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)

The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) administers New Zealand’s accident compensation scheme, which provides personal injury cover for all New Zealand citizens, residents and temporary visitors to New Zealand.  In return people do not have the right to sue for personal injury, other than for exemplary damages.

Their pledge is;

To prevent injury, to provide the best treatment and care if injury occurs, and to quickly rehabilitate people back to work or independence at a price that offers high value to levy payers and all New Zealanders.

A person may receive ACC if there was a serious accident at a gym.  ACC may then persue compensation from the workplace of staff if established that there was negligence.

Got Questions?

If you have any questions about getting qualified and starting a personal training career, feel free to contact us and one of our friendly careers team will be happy to help you out.


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