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Yoga participation stretches beyond Pilates & Aerobics

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January – December 2017 (n=15,169).

Yoga is Australia’s preferred cardio, strength and flexibility exercise with 2.18 million Australians participating in yoga in the year to December 2017.

Yoga participation has continued to increase. Since mid-2016 when Roy Morgan found that 2 million Australians participated in the exercise – see more here. Yoga participation easily outstrips another popular exercise choice, pilates, which now has 1.2 million participants and Aerobics with just over 1 million participants.

The gender breakdown for the three activities is dominated by women who comprise over 70% of participants in all three exercises. Over 1.7 million women do yoga regularly or occasionally compared to just under 480,000 men. Pilates is even more heavily dominated by women with nearly 1.1 million women doing pilates compared to just over 120,000 men – a breakdown approaching 9 to 1.

Analysing the exercises by generation reveals a clear preference for yoga for all younger generations born post war. Yoga is most popular with Generation Y. Nearly 750,000 people, or 16%, of Generation Y do yoga regularly or occasionally compared to 13% of Generation Z, and 11% of Generation X.

Pilates also draws its greatest popularity among those in Generation Y with 380,000 people, doing pilates regularly or occasionally.

Surprisingly amongst older Australians aerobics is the most popular of the three exercises. Over 3% of Pre-Boomers born before 1946 do aerobics compared with under 3% for either yoga or pilates.


Participation in Yoga, Pilates and Aerobics by Gender & Generation in 2017

Yoga, Pilates & Aerobics Participation December 2017

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January – December 2017 (n=15,169).


Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan, says Roy Morgan has previously revealed the rise of yoga over the past decade and today yoga is far more popular than comparable exercise activities such as pilates and aerobics:

“Yoga has seen tremendous growth as an activity in Australia over the past decade. In 2008 just 5% of Australians did yoga regularly or occasionally as an activity, and this proportion has more than doubled in the decade since to nearly 11% today. Roy Morgan extensively covered the growth of yoga here. If there was any question that yoga was at its peak its popularity among millennials (Generation Y) suggests that yoga is still continues its growth.

“The growth of yoga means the exercise is today far more popular than alternatives including pilates, undertaken by 6% of Australians or aerobics, which 5% of Australians do regularly or occasionally. However there are certain similarities between the activities it is worth highlighting.

“All three activities are dominated by women – nearly 73% of aerobics participants, almost 80% of yoga participants and just under 90% of pilates participants. The activities are also dominated by Australians in the top two socio-economic quintiles*. Over 50% of participants in all three activities are in either the AB or C Quintiles – the two most affluent quintiles comprising the top 40% of the population in a socio-economic sense.

“The most likely Roy Morgan Helix Personas communities to be active yoga, pilates and aerobics participants are in the Metrotechs and Leading Lifestyles communities – the younger and more affluent singles and young families living in and near to Australia’s cities.

“Twenty per cent of Metrotechs undertake yoga regularly or occasionally and nearly 9% do pilates. These results show that yoga in particular, but also pilates and aerobics to a lesser extent, are great places to reach a consumer market of growing importance – young affluent women with cash to burn.

“According to Australian marketing executive and author Bec Brideson, ‘Women are the fastest growing global consumer economy[1]’ based on a 2015 Ernst & Young study[2] that reported that women will be responsible for 75% of discretionary household spend by 2025.”

* NB: A note on socio-economic quintiles: Roy Morgan Single Source collects thousands of data points from each survey respondent, allowing us to segment the Australian population in many ways. Socio-economic quintiles segment the population based on education, income and occupation, with AB being the top-scoring quintile and FG being the lowest.

To learn more about Roy Morgan’s sports participant profiles including yoga, pilates and aerobics participant profiles, call (03) 9224 5309 or email askroymorgan@roymorgan.com.