Why the jump in Americans joining gyms is all good news

There's likely never been a better time for businesses and online lenders to learn about the payment and budgets habits of their potential customers. In addition to verification and authentication tools available from Microbilt, alternative credit is proving to be a more common data source to gauge creditworthiness. Consistency of paying cable bills, electric bills, rent and gym memberships can all go toward corroborating whether an applicant makes for a good loan candidate.

It's the latter of these monthly payment programs that more Americans are signing up for, a recently released report reveals.

Over 26 percent increase in gym club membership
Nearly 57 million Americans age 6 and older belong to a health club, according to the most up-to-date statistics available from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association. That's up by just under 26.5 percent tracing back to 2009.

Given the obesity epidemic in America - according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese, the equivalent of 93 million individuals - 57 million may not seem like a huge number. However, it's a growth in people at least expressing a desire to get in better control of their physical well-being.

Melissa Rodrigues, senior research manager at IHRSA, said the data is particularly reassuring among senior citizens, approximately 25 percent of whom are health club regulars. Membership levels for Boomers and the so-called "Silent Generation" have risen 5 percent combined since 2012.

"The report provides insights and applications on how clubs can engage older generations as well as other segments," Rodriguez added.

Weightlifting dumbells. Americans are giving their bodies and their budgets exercise by joining health clubs.

How wellness clubs are succeeding with signups
Health clubs use a variety of strategies to encourage people to join. For instance, both independent and franchises make specific classes available so people new to exercising regularly can get the hang of it or reduce the monotony. These group settings also foster camaraderie and forming friendships.

Clubs appeal to budget-minded buyers by offering rock-bottom rates, no origination fees, buy-one get-one campaigns or allowing teenagers to join for free, the last of those an initiative Planet Fitness recently launched at select locations, according to WMUR.

Additionally, monthly payments are easier than ever with autopay. When membership dues occur, autopay instantaneously deducts the cost from the checking or credit accounts members provide. This not only helps reduce the chances of fraud but also can boost members' alternative credit data scores through timely payments, provided the funds are available.

"People find greater emotional health by exercising regularly."

The emotional benefits of exercise available at health and fitness clubs are also rather significant, something gyms are quick to point out. This is particularly true among older Americans as a Gallup-ShareCare Well-Being Index shows seniors are 32 percent more likely to be optimistic about their lives versus those who don't prioritize an active lifestyle. Across all age groups, the study showed optimism rose the more often people exercised for at least 30 minutes per week.

Of course, joining a health and fitness facility isn't the only arena where people can bike, walk or run in. However, the likelihood with which people exercise at a sufficient level is higher when people belong to one. Iowa State University scientists said gym members are 14 times more likely to reach or exceed the ideal for weekly physical activity, Time reported.

"Physical activity outside of the gym was the same for both groups," said Duck-chul Lee, the study's principal investigator and assistant professor of kinesiology at ISU. "For non-members, joining a gym really may increase overall activity levels."

From the physical to the social, emotional to the financial, joining gyms is just plain common sense. The identity verification and decisioning tools available through Microbilt can provide the payment and membership data you can use to provide added context to your customers' buying habits and what they prioritize.

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