Australians want to get fit, according to the latest Fitness Australia figures.

With overall fitness and gym usage steadily growing since 2005, gym and fitness is now ranked the second-most popular physical activity with 17.4 per cent of the Australian population participating. Furthermore, 18-24 year-olds have the highest percentage of gym users at 28.9 per cent.

The University of Wollongong’s URAC Fitness Centre is primed to take full advantage of the surge in numbers, nut it faces plenty of competition.

The Australian Fitness Industry Report (2012) reported there are more than 2,500 fitness businesses in Australia. Whilst URAC is ranked as the busiest gym in the Wollongong area, it is only ranked as the eighth best in quality.

URAC boasts large facilities and target the two age brackets with the highest percentages of participation. There has consistently been approximately 20,000 students studying at the Wollongong Campus for several years. The average University student age in Australia is 23 years old. If this average were consistent with the student population at Wollongong University (UOW), it would equate to 5,700 students wanting to use a gym.

Lachlan Williams, a student at UOW has bypassed the convenience of URAC and has joined a cheaper gym in the city.

“I find it silly to spend more money for a gym with less equipment that isn’t open all the time,” he said.

After using URAC for one year, Williams switched gyms. He has witnessed an increase in gym popularity and now tries to avoid the busiest times of the day.

“It’s good for the public as a whole that gyms are becoming more popular and that people are making more of an effort to exercise but I personally hate a packed gym,” he said.