The Italian Almanac

doing fitness

No More Fitness

Soccer is no longer Italy's top sport in terms of the number of people who play it in their spare time, national statistics institute Istat said. For the first time ever, in 2006, Istat found more Italians doing fitness classes than playing football or five-a-side.

Some 4.32 million Italians now go to the gym for aerobics, step, spinning and other fitness classes - compared to 4.15 million who play some form of soccer. A recent dance craze inspired by TV celebrity shows has swept another million people into gyms, boosting the total of gym-goers to 31% of the sporty public, compared to 24.2% for soccer.

In the last such study, in 2000, soccer claimed 25.7% of the sports market, well ahead of gym-based activities. Third place in the 2006 ranking went to swimming with a steady 3.58 million practitioners, or 20.8%. Tennis and winter sports were down while cycling and athletics were up. More than 40% of Italians told Istat they didn't do any sport at all.