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'Huge growth' in number of people doing group exercise

The number of people doing group exercise increased by 3.76 million during 2017, according to research by Exercise Move Dance UK (EMD UK), the national governing body for group exercise.

The 2018 EMD UK Group Exercise National Survey, conducted in partnership with YouGov, shows that the growth has been driven by a surge in the number of people aged 45 years and over joining group exercise classes.

The report shows that an additional 1.1 million people aged 45+ took part in weekly group exercise during 2017 when compared to 2016 figures.

Of the group exercise class options available, yoga has continued to grow and has now jumped from fourth to first on the list of the most popular formats, with more than 1.2m weekly participants.

Not all formats of group exercise are growing, however.

There has been a "significant decline" in group cycling and the survey suggests that in the past two years, participants have been "moving away from traditional group cycling classes and participating in other exercise formats".

According to Ross Perriam, chief executive of EMD UK, the report also shows that group exercise has become more inclusive and readily available – and is no longer limited to gym floors at premium health clubs.

"We’re very encouraged to see the positive steps in increasing accessibility," he said.

"More than 50 per cent of group exercise growth came from a C2DE audience (the three lower social and economic groups) – proof that the socio-economic gap is closing.

"It is also good to see the substantial rise in the number of people over the age of 45 participating in group exercise. We believe the variety of exercise classes available has helped this. With a broad range, there’s almost something for everyone that fits well within their daily lives and goals.

"This sustained popularity of group exercise is providing more opportunities for instructors and new formats to flourish.

"Group exercise is here to stay, and it is more important than ever that we support the training and development of new and existing instructors and recognise and reward them for their passion and the great work they do."

For more information on EMD UK and to read the full report, click here.

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