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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

Editor's letter: Bounceback challenges

The appetite for health clubs is strong among consumers and investors – to take advantage of this, operators must figure out how to meet key challenges in operationally sustainable ways

By Liz Terry, Leisure Media | Published in Health Club Management 2021 issue 8
The Gym Group and Fiit have created in-gym branded pods / photo: The Gym Group
The Gym Group and Fiit have created in-gym branded pods / photo: The Gym Group
Regaining pre-pandemic membership levels is the first step – the next challenge is returning to profitability

It’s great to see the market roaring back in the UK and on page 44 we talk to big box operators about challenges, trading and changing consumer behaviour.

Some, such as David Lloyd Leisure (page 32), are already back to pre-pandemic membership levels only a few months after reopening, with others close to hitting this important target.

However, in a market where investor expectations are high in the private sector and financial pressures great in the public, there are also adaptations that need to be made if the sector is to fully recover.

A major priority is adapting club locations – this is clearly an issue, with city-centre sites and also some rural sites doing less well and we’re seeing operators such as 1Rebel pivoting and opening studios in residential areas (page 26) to rebalance their businesses.

The change to homeworking is seeing operators overhauling their property portfolios to align them with the new reality. This is reshaping the sector and – where sites are disposed of – boosting the independents and giving entrepreneurs and franchises a way into the market.

There’s also an issue with sleepers – members who pay but don’t use the gym. For some operators, pandemic cancellations have stripped away the accumulation of decades of sleeper Direct Debits, so even if attendances recover, the bottom line will be challenged until membership can be regrown to accommodate this.

This challenge is driving the sector to refresh and reinvent itself, making new alliances and partnerships to accelerate market penetration and growth, as we’ve seen this month with the news of Hussle’s partnership with McDonald’s (page 30).

Increased operational costs are also burdening operators – Russell Barnes, CEO at David Lloyd Leisure says COVID-secure operating protocols are costing an additional £800k a month (see our interview on page 32), making this another challenge to work through and streamline as quickly as possible: we need to find cheaper and more environmental ways to continue to deliver these elevated levels of hygiene.

Customers who are fearful of returning are being missed and operators are seeking ways to reassure them or create new services to draw them back into clubs.

On page 64 we look at The Gym Group’s collaboration with Fiit which is linking at-home workouts with new in-club solus workout pods and group studios, blurring the boundaries and helping bring members back.

Regaining pre-pandemic membership levels is the first step on the journey to recovery. The next challenge is to continue to harness creative thinking, forge new partnerships and find solutions to these and other challenges to return to profitability.

Liz Terry, HCM editor
[email protected]
@elizterry
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2021/802481_702413.jpg
The appetite for health clubs is strong among consumers and investors – to take advantage of this, operators must figure out how to meet key challenges in operationally sustainable ways
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Click on a catalogue to view it online
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features

Editor's letter: Bounceback challenges

The appetite for health clubs is strong among consumers and investors – to take advantage of this, operators must figure out how to meet key challenges in operationally sustainable ways

By Liz Terry, Leisure Media | Published in Health Club Management 2021 issue 8
The Gym Group and Fiit have created in-gym branded pods / photo: The Gym Group
The Gym Group and Fiit have created in-gym branded pods / photo: The Gym Group
Regaining pre-pandemic membership levels is the first step – the next challenge is returning to profitability

It’s great to see the market roaring back in the UK and on page 44 we talk to big box operators about challenges, trading and changing consumer behaviour.

Some, such as David Lloyd Leisure (page 32), are already back to pre-pandemic membership levels only a few months after reopening, with others close to hitting this important target.

However, in a market where investor expectations are high in the private sector and financial pressures great in the public, there are also adaptations that need to be made if the sector is to fully recover.

A major priority is adapting club locations – this is clearly an issue, with city-centre sites and also some rural sites doing less well and we’re seeing operators such as 1Rebel pivoting and opening studios in residential areas (page 26) to rebalance their businesses.

The change to homeworking is seeing operators overhauling their property portfolios to align them with the new reality. This is reshaping the sector and – where sites are disposed of – boosting the independents and giving entrepreneurs and franchises a way into the market.

There’s also an issue with sleepers – members who pay but don’t use the gym. For some operators, pandemic cancellations have stripped away the accumulation of decades of sleeper Direct Debits, so even if attendances recover, the bottom line will be challenged until membership can be regrown to accommodate this.

This challenge is driving the sector to refresh and reinvent itself, making new alliances and partnerships to accelerate market penetration and growth, as we’ve seen this month with the news of Hussle’s partnership with McDonald’s (page 30).

Increased operational costs are also burdening operators – Russell Barnes, CEO at David Lloyd Leisure says COVID-secure operating protocols are costing an additional £800k a month (see our interview on page 32), making this another challenge to work through and streamline as quickly as possible: we need to find cheaper and more environmental ways to continue to deliver these elevated levels of hygiene.

Customers who are fearful of returning are being missed and operators are seeking ways to reassure them or create new services to draw them back into clubs.

On page 64 we look at The Gym Group’s collaboration with Fiit which is linking at-home workouts with new in-club solus workout pods and group studios, blurring the boundaries and helping bring members back.

Regaining pre-pandemic membership levels is the first step on the journey to recovery. The next challenge is to continue to harness creative thinking, forge new partnerships and find solutions to these and other challenges to return to profitability.

Liz Terry, HCM editor
[email protected]
@elizterry
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2021/802481_702413.jpg
The appetite for health clubs is strong among consumers and investors – to take advantage of this, operators must figure out how to meet key challenges in operationally sustainable ways
Latest News
Go Fit has been selected by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) as ...
Latest News
Ness, a US startup that is developing a range of wellness-driven credit cards, has launched ...
Latest News
Following a history of supporting US military and service members, F45 has announced a new ...
Latest News
Hyatt is piloting private gyms in five of its US hotels as part of its ...
Latest News
A young girl has died following an incident at the David Lloyd gym at Capability ...
Latest News
New fitness franchise, Circuit Society, has signed its first London location in Bayswater. The 3,000sq ...
Latest News
Active Nottingham, part of Nottingham City Council, has released a children’s book called Can We ...
Latest News
The new £42m Moorways Sports Village will open its doors to the public on Saturday ...
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Fitness industry veteran Harm Tegelaars has returned to the fitness industry by joining the board ...
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Planet Fitness saw its Q1 2022 revenue increase by 66.9 per cent (to US$186.7m) on ...
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Sport England and UK Active have signed a five-year partnership agreement which will see the ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: UK health clubs hit by rising cost of energy
Health clubs across the UK are facing huge rises in business energy bills which are forcing difficult decisions.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: active-net 2022 tackles mental health awareness
More than 100 industry delegates met in person at the annual active-net event at Eastwood Hall in Nottingham on 23-24 March.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active to launch new exercise classes to reduce gender gap
As part of their work to break down the barriers that deter women and girls from participating in sport and physical activity, Everyone Active has teamed up with EMD UK to launch new exercise classes linked to the This Girl Can campaign.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: New partnership delivers swimming support to children with disabilities
A new partnership has been launched to provide inclusive swimming for children with mobility, visual and hearing disabilities.
Company profiles
Company profile: Precor
Precor has been a pioneer in delivering fitness experiences for commercial customers for more than ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Jordan Fitness
Jordan Fitness are a recognised leader in functional fitness, specialising in premium quality yet value ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Management software
Premier Software Solutions: Management software
Whole body cryotherapy
Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH / icelab: Whole body cryotherapy
On demand
Fitness On Demand: On demand
Fitness equipment
A Panatta Sport Srl: Fitness equipment
Salt therapy products
Saltability: Salt therapy products
Lockers/interior design
Crown Sports Lockers: Lockers/interior design
Skincare
Comfort Zone - Davines S.p.A: Skincare
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Property & Tenders
Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire County Council
Property & Tenders
Runcorn
Halton Borough Council
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
30-30 Jun 2022
The ICC, Birmingham, Birmingham , United Kingdom
Diary dates
12-13 Sep 2022
Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs® Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
Diary dates
25-28 Oct 2022
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
25-28 Oct 2022
Ibiza, Ibiza, Spain
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
17-18 Mar 2023
Tobacco Dock, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
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