The COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder for people to stay fit. While gyms have reopened in many places around the country, the pandemic interrupted many daily routines and this can make it difficult to work fitness back into your schedule. That said, fitness is important, and SmartAsset analyzed data to identify and rank where in America are the most fitness-friendly places in 2022.
We compared 284 metro areas across the following metrics: percentage of residents who bike to work, fitness professionals per 10,000 workers, fitness establishments per 10,000 residents, percentage of restaurants that serve fast food and the average wage of personal trainers. For more details on how we found and analyzed our data, read the data and methodology section below.
This is SmartAsset’s eighth annual study on the most fitness-friendly places in the U.S. Read the previous version here.
- Metro areas in the West dominate the top 10. Missoula, Montana reclaims the top spot in this year’s study as the friendliest fitness metro area in America. Six out of the top 10 are western metro areas. These include Bend, Oregon; La Crosse-Onalaska, Wisconsin-Minnesota; Corvallis, Oregon; Boulder, Colorado; and Flagstaff, Arizona.
- The highest hourly wages for personal trainers are two times more than the average. The average wage for a personal trainer across all the metro areas is $18.90 per hour. The highest wage for a personal trainer is in Charleston-North Charleston, South Carolina, where it is $35.19 per hour on average. The lowest is in Lawrence, Kansas where the average hourly wage is $10.78.
1. Missoula, MT
There are 131 fitness establishments for every 10,000 total establishments in Missoula, the second-highest rate in this study. With 7.1% of residents walking or biking to work, this metro area ranks 17th for this metric. There are also 46 fitness professionals for every 10,000 establishments, ninth in this study.
2. Bend, OR
There are 47 fitness professionals for every 10,000 workers in Bend, Oregon, the fifth-most in this study. This metro area also has 116 fitness establishments out of every 10,000 total establishments, ranking sixth. And only 34% of all restaurants are fast food restaurants, the 16th-lowest percentage.
3. La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN
La Crosse-Onalaska’s average wage for a personal trainer is just $15.69, the 54th-lowest in this study (and the lowest in the top 10). This metro area also has 129 fitness establishments out of every 10,000 total establishments, third out of all the metro areas in the study. And 5.2% of all workers in La Crosse-Onalaska walk or bike to work, ranking 34th.
4. Corvallis, OR
Corvallis is a haven for those who want to go carless, with the highest percentage of residents walking or biking to work (16%) in the study. Furthermore, there are 37 fitness professionals for every 10,000 workers, the 19th-highest rate in this study. Corvallis also leads the list with 142 fitness establishments out of every 10,000 total establishments.
5. Ithaca, NY
Ithaca ranks second in this study with 14.5% of residents walking or biking to work. This metro area also places eighth with 115 fitness establishments for every 10,000 residents. However, professional fitness help ranks near the bottom earning on average $27.34 per hour.
6. Boulder, CO
Boulder is a hotbed of fitness pros with 47 for every 10,000 workers, the fourth-highest in this study. Those fitness professionals, however, rank towards the bottom earning on average $28.61 per hour.
7. Flagstaff, AZ
Just over one in 10 Flagstaff residents walk or bike to work (11.5%), the third-highest rate in this study. The metro area also ranks 11th for fitness establishments with 112 out of every 10,000 total establishments. Fitness professionals in Flagstaff rank toward the bottom of the list with an average hourly wage of $24.31.
8. Ann Arbor, MI
There are 46 fitness professionals for every 10,000 workers in Ann Arbor, ranking seventh for this metric. It places 10th with 113 fitness establishments out of every 10,000 total establishments. Roughly 7.4% of residents walk or bike to work, 15th in this study.
9. Fort Collins, CO
Fort Collins has 111 fitness establishments out of every 10,000 total establishments, the 13th-most in this study. Around 5.2% of residents walk or bike to work, the 34th-most out of all the areas in this study.
10. Erie, PA
The average hourly wage for personal trainers in Erie is just $12.56, the ninth-lowest in this study. Erie has a good number of fitness professionals too, with 37 for every 10,000 workers. The metro area also finishes in the top quartile for walking and biking to work, placing 46th with 4.6% of workers walking or biking to work.
Data and Methodology
To find the most fitness-friendly places in the country for 2022, we examined data for 284 metro areas across the following five metrics:
- Percentage of residents who walk or bike to work. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2020 1-year American Community Survey.
- Concentration of fitness professionals. This is the number of fitness professionals per 10,000 workers. Our list of fitness professionals includes dietitians and nutritionists, recreational therapists, athletic trainers as well as fitness trainers and aerobics instructors. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Statistics and is for May 2020.
- Concentration of fitness establishments. This is the number of fitness establishments per 10,000 establishments. Our list of fitness establishments includes sporting goods stores and fitness and recreational sports centers. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 Metro Area Business Patterns Survey.
- Concentration of fast-food restaurants. This is the percentage of restaurants that are limited-service establishments. Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 2019 Metro Area Business Patterns Survey.
- Average hourly wage of personal trainers. Given the limited availability of direct data about the cost to consumers for personal training services, this metric acts as a proxy to indicate the relative affordability of hiring a personal trainer in a given metro area. Data comes from the BLS and is for May 2020.
First, we ranked each metro area in each metric. Then we found each place’s average ranking, giving all metrics a full weight except for concentration of fast-food restaurants and average hourly wage of personal trainers, each of which received a half weight. Using this average ranking, we created our final score. The metro area with the highest average ranking received a score of 100, and the metro area with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.
Tips for Living a Financially Healthy Life
- You can concentrate on your physical health if you get someone else to help with your financial health. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- If you want to pay for a gym membership or other fitness cost, you’ll need to make sure it fits into your budget. Use SmartAsset’s free budget calculator to see how it fits into your spending plan.
Questions about our study? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo Credit: © iStock/recep-bg