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UNITING THE WORLD OF FITNESS
Health Club Management

Health Club Management

features

MARKET RESEARCH: The UK fitness sector continues to grow, but there's room for improvement

The fitness industry might be growing, but it needs to do even more to achieve future success. David Minton reports

By David Minton, The Leisure Database Company | Published in Health Club Handbook 2016 issue 1
GLL’s Better is the largest public sector brand with 126 sites
GLL’s Better is the largest public sector brand with 126 sites

First we shape our industry and afterwards our industry shapes us.

This aphorism is perhaps the least quoted exposition of the relationship between people and their fitness (and health). In a year when we should be celebrating our successes, I want to question, as a critical friend, why we’re not achieving more.

Size matters
First the good news. The industry has shown itself to be recession-proof and is back in positive headline growth year-on-year. This year’s State of the Fitness Industry Report (SoFI) infographics are excellent at showing trends over longer periods, something industry veterans and financiers are finding reassuring. The penetration rate across the total population has grown to 13.7 per cent as monthly direct debits hit 8.8 million, up from 13.2 per cent and 8.3 million.

I put this upfront because it recently came to my notice via social media that too many people working in the industry don’t know the size of the industry they work in. The day-to-day isolation that many people suffer while working in what should be a very social environment needs to be addressed and we’re looking to present more real-time data on our website in 2016.

Budget becomes mid-market
So back to the good news. The total number of fitness sites stands at 6,312, up from 6,112 in the previous year, and the market value has grown to £4.3bn – representing almost £1bn growth since 2007.

Across the private sector, low-cost sites have continued to drive growth: there are now 319 low-cost clubs, up from 257. Membership of these clubs has jumped to 1.3 million, with a market value of £290m. Last year, members paid on average £17.99; this year it has increased to £18.23, an indication that more low-cost operators are bordering on the £20 a month definition.

If we keep this definition, then some low-cost brands are either finding the model isn’t working on all sites, or else they’re finding the strength of the market means they no longer need to be constrained by price. Because some brands are moving not only into the £20-plus but £30-plus brackets, particularly in London. So low-cost brands are moving into the very mid-market they were once attacking.

Public show of strength
The public sector, meanwhile, is playing a far more long-term game, gaining strength and embedding itself into the local community. Public sites have a wider range of facilities and maintain over 3.3 million members paying an average fee of £30, unchanged since last year.

Back in 2011, the public sector opened 81 all-new gyms, but although refurbs have grown, new openings have dropped year-on-year with 2015 bringing just 46. However, these new sites have 58 stations on average and are charging £31.25 – both figures higher than the all-public site average.

This average is being pushed up by the work of the larger public site operators. At the time our latest report was published, GLL and its Better brand was the largest fitness brand in the country with 126 sites, SLM’s Everyone Active had 79, and Places for People Leisure had 78 sites. GLL managed 38 more gyms than it did 12 months previously and was also the largest swim and diving school operator.

Instagram what?
Our personal preferences can become personal insight based on information in the public domain – yet few public or private brands are taking advantage to engage in meaningful conversations, present real-time information and convert interest into commerce or visits.

For the first time in our SoFI report, we’ve included a Fitness Social Media Index looking at brands on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The results don’t make for good reading: four of the top 10 private brands and nine of the top 10 public brands don’t use Instagram. Compare this to the active wear brands that have taken fitness beyond the gym to become a lifestyle.

Nike, Adidas, Vans, Converse, Puma, Under Armour and New Balance have all seen 144–252 per cent growth in Instagram followers, unprecedented in other social media forms. Are fitness brands neglecting a superior indexing platform?

Could the lack of social media strategies, along with a lack of innovation and differentiation, be the downfall of the industry in 2016? Weight Watchers is a good example of how quickly new technology can destroy the value of a business. In 2015, its stock dropped 92 per cent from its all-time high, membership is down 38 per cent, and the number of meetings has fallen by 20 per cent. Dieting tools have gone hi-tech and the Weight Watchers weekly meetings and weigh-ins have been replaced by on-demand conversation and support.

Husband and wife bloggers Daniel and Kelli on Fitness Blender have over 18 million followers, and like Wikipedia rely on donations. In the UK, Body.Network – promoted by The Times and fronted by PT Matt Roberts – provides an on-demand library of videos with your favourite trainer for £15 a month. Around 20 new aggregators – hi-tech start-ups from UK, India, Israel and the US – are working around the lack of APIs to go direct to the consumer. These aggregators will have a conversation with the consumer, will provide a personal service and will create an experience for them. Does the fitness industry do all three and do it well?

Some new technology attracts criticism for undercutting the industry, but like Uber and Airbnb, the power and choice lies with the consumer. Will aggregators, bloggers, unboxing celebrities, on-demand channels, trackers, wearables and an app for everything win over the consumer and impact traditional platforms and websites? It’s only a matter of time, so embrace new technology and help shape our industry in 2016.

Want all the stats?

David Minton:
David Minton:

The annual State of the Fitness Industry Report is published by independent analyst for the industry The Leisure Database Company, which compiles the report from a comprehensive review and audit involving individual contact with all sites.

For further information, contact TLDC director David Minton:

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @davidmintonTLDC

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
The UK low-cost sector – including brands like Xercise4Less – has grown to 319 sites
The UK low-cost sector – including brands like Xercise4Less – has grown to 319 sites
Active wear brands such as Nike, Converse, Under Armour and New Balance have seen 144–252 per cent growth in Instagram followers / Photo: shutterstock.com
Active wear brands such as Nike, Converse, Under Armour and New Balance have seen 144–252 per cent growth in Instagram followers / Photo: shutterstock.com
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/879558_113827.jpg
The UK fitness sector continues to grow, but there's room for improvement, says David Minton
David Minton, Director, The Leisure Database Company,The Leisure Database Company, TLDC, David Minton, social media, State of the Fitness Industry, Instagram, size of market
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The Pingdemic of people receiving notifications on their phones, telling them to self-isolate because of ...
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The Gym Group has extended its partnership with digital fitness platform Fiit, becoming the first ...
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The world's largest fitness trade fair, FIBO, has been rescheduled again and will now take ...
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Featured operator news: Everyone Active bolsters Everyone on Demand and enters second year with five new partnerships
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Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Uniforms
Service Sport: Uniforms
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
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Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire County Council
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
18-19 Sep 2021
Locations worldwide,
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
13-14 Oct 2021
Online,
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates

features

MARKET RESEARCH: The UK fitness sector continues to grow, but there's room for improvement

The fitness industry might be growing, but it needs to do even more to achieve future success. David Minton reports

By David Minton, The Leisure Database Company | Published in Health Club Handbook 2016 issue 1
GLL’s Better is the largest public sector brand with 126 sites
GLL’s Better is the largest public sector brand with 126 sites

First we shape our industry and afterwards our industry shapes us.

This aphorism is perhaps the least quoted exposition of the relationship between people and their fitness (and health). In a year when we should be celebrating our successes, I want to question, as a critical friend, why we’re not achieving more.

Size matters
First the good news. The industry has shown itself to be recession-proof and is back in positive headline growth year-on-year. This year’s State of the Fitness Industry Report (SoFI) infographics are excellent at showing trends over longer periods, something industry veterans and financiers are finding reassuring. The penetration rate across the total population has grown to 13.7 per cent as monthly direct debits hit 8.8 million, up from 13.2 per cent and 8.3 million.

I put this upfront because it recently came to my notice via social media that too many people working in the industry don’t know the size of the industry they work in. The day-to-day isolation that many people suffer while working in what should be a very social environment needs to be addressed and we’re looking to present more real-time data on our website in 2016.

Budget becomes mid-market
So back to the good news. The total number of fitness sites stands at 6,312, up from 6,112 in the previous year, and the market value has grown to £4.3bn – representing almost £1bn growth since 2007.

Across the private sector, low-cost sites have continued to drive growth: there are now 319 low-cost clubs, up from 257. Membership of these clubs has jumped to 1.3 million, with a market value of £290m. Last year, members paid on average £17.99; this year it has increased to £18.23, an indication that more low-cost operators are bordering on the £20 a month definition.

If we keep this definition, then some low-cost brands are either finding the model isn’t working on all sites, or else they’re finding the strength of the market means they no longer need to be constrained by price. Because some brands are moving not only into the £20-plus but £30-plus brackets, particularly in London. So low-cost brands are moving into the very mid-market they were once attacking.

Public show of strength
The public sector, meanwhile, is playing a far more long-term game, gaining strength and embedding itself into the local community. Public sites have a wider range of facilities and maintain over 3.3 million members paying an average fee of £30, unchanged since last year.

Back in 2011, the public sector opened 81 all-new gyms, but although refurbs have grown, new openings have dropped year-on-year with 2015 bringing just 46. However, these new sites have 58 stations on average and are charging £31.25 – both figures higher than the all-public site average.

This average is being pushed up by the work of the larger public site operators. At the time our latest report was published, GLL and its Better brand was the largest fitness brand in the country with 126 sites, SLM’s Everyone Active had 79, and Places for People Leisure had 78 sites. GLL managed 38 more gyms than it did 12 months previously and was also the largest swim and diving school operator.

Instagram what?
Our personal preferences can become personal insight based on information in the public domain – yet few public or private brands are taking advantage to engage in meaningful conversations, present real-time information and convert interest into commerce or visits.

For the first time in our SoFI report, we’ve included a Fitness Social Media Index looking at brands on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The results don’t make for good reading: four of the top 10 private brands and nine of the top 10 public brands don’t use Instagram. Compare this to the active wear brands that have taken fitness beyond the gym to become a lifestyle.

Nike, Adidas, Vans, Converse, Puma, Under Armour and New Balance have all seen 144–252 per cent growth in Instagram followers, unprecedented in other social media forms. Are fitness brands neglecting a superior indexing platform?

Could the lack of social media strategies, along with a lack of innovation and differentiation, be the downfall of the industry in 2016? Weight Watchers is a good example of how quickly new technology can destroy the value of a business. In 2015, its stock dropped 92 per cent from its all-time high, membership is down 38 per cent, and the number of meetings has fallen by 20 per cent. Dieting tools have gone hi-tech and the Weight Watchers weekly meetings and weigh-ins have been replaced by on-demand conversation and support.

Husband and wife bloggers Daniel and Kelli on Fitness Blender have over 18 million followers, and like Wikipedia rely on donations. In the UK, Body.Network – promoted by The Times and fronted by PT Matt Roberts – provides an on-demand library of videos with your favourite trainer for £15 a month. Around 20 new aggregators – hi-tech start-ups from UK, India, Israel and the US – are working around the lack of APIs to go direct to the consumer. These aggregators will have a conversation with the consumer, will provide a personal service and will create an experience for them. Does the fitness industry do all three and do it well?

Some new technology attracts criticism for undercutting the industry, but like Uber and Airbnb, the power and choice lies with the consumer. Will aggregators, bloggers, unboxing celebrities, on-demand channels, trackers, wearables and an app for everything win over the consumer and impact traditional platforms and websites? It’s only a matter of time, so embrace new technology and help shape our industry in 2016.

Want all the stats?

David Minton:
David Minton:

The annual State of the Fitness Industry Report is published by independent analyst for the industry The Leisure Database Company, which compiles the report from a comprehensive review and audit involving individual contact with all sites.

For further information, contact TLDC director David Minton:

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @davidmintonTLDC

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
The UK low-cost sector – including brands like Xercise4Less – has grown to 319 sites
The UK low-cost sector – including brands like Xercise4Less – has grown to 319 sites
Active wear brands such as Nike, Converse, Under Armour and New Balance have seen 144–252 per cent growth in Instagram followers / Photo: shutterstock.com
Active wear brands such as Nike, Converse, Under Armour and New Balance have seen 144–252 per cent growth in Instagram followers / Photo: shutterstock.com
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/879558_113827.jpg
The UK fitness sector continues to grow, but there's room for improvement, says David Minton
David Minton, Director, The Leisure Database Company,The Leisure Database Company, TLDC, David Minton, social media, State of the Fitness Industry, Instagram, size of market
Latest News
The Pingdemic of people receiving notifications on their phones, telling them to self-isolate because of ...
Latest News
The Gym Group has extended its partnership with digital fitness platform Fiit, becoming the first ...
Latest News
The world's largest fitness trade fair, FIBO, has been rescheduled again and will now take ...
Latest News
Rainer Schaller, founder of budget gym megabrand McFIT, says that the global fitness industry will ...
Latest News
The most high-risk and controversial Olympics of modern times begin today (23 July) in Tokyo, ...
Latest News
Further research into the levels of positive COVID-19 cases among those to have visited fitness ...
Latest News
Planning approval has been granted to what is set to become one of the first ...
Latest News
Digital fitness content provider, Wexer, is launching a new wellness resource on its connected Web ...
Latest News
Leisure-net has revealed plans to transform its active-net business event from an annual face-to-face gathering ...
Latest News
F45's IPO on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has revealed a strong appetite from ...
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A large health club plays a major role in tech giant Microsoft’s recently opened R&D ...
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: How are hundreds of gym operators suddenly saving a lot of money for doing a lot less work?
Let’s talk about Orbit4 – the secret behind successful gyms.
Featured supplier news
Featured supplier news: miha bodytec EMS-PT: an irresistible way to boost your in-club offer
Post pandemic, technology continues to shape the way consumers access fitness. Apps and wearables are helping people reach their goals while digital offerings – which grew exponentially during lockdowns – continue to thrive.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Everyone Active bolsters Everyone on Demand and enters second year with five new partnerships
Everyone Active has signed a number of new deals which will see the operator strengthen its digital product offering, Everyone on Demand.
Featured operator news
Featured operator news: Being active helps Parkwood Leisure customers save the NHS £16m
Parkwood Leisure, one of the UK’s leading public leisure facilities operators, helped prevent more than 7,000 cases of stroke, dementia, depression and type 2 diabetes in 2019, saving the NHS £16 million, a new social value report has shown.
Company profiles
Company profile: Merrithew™ - Leaders in Mindful Movement™
Merrithew™ enriches the lives of others with responsible exercise modalities and innovative, multidisciplinary fitness offerings ...
Company profiles
Company profile: Precor
Precor has been a pioneer in delivering fitness experiences for commercial customers for more than ...
Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Directory
Independent service & maintenance
Servicesport UK Limited: Independent service & maintenance
Uniforms
Service Sport: Uniforms
Architects/designers
Zynk Design Consultants: Architects/designers
Red Light Therapy
 Red Light Rising: Red Light Therapy
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Management software
fibodo Limited: Management software
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Wearable technology solutions
MyZone: Wearable technology solutions
Whole body cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Whole body cryotherapy
Salt therapy products
Saltability: Salt therapy products
Property & Tenders
Newport, Shropshire
Lilleshall Sports Academy
Property & Tenders
Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire
Carmarthenshire County Council
Property & Tenders
Diary dates
18-19 Sep 2021
Locations worldwide,
Diary dates
21-24 Sep 2021
Messe Stuttgart, Germany
Diary dates
13-14 Oct 2021
Online,
Diary dates
01-03 Feb 2022
Coventry Building Society Arena, Coventry, United Kingdom
Diary dates
07-10 Apr 2022
Exhibition Centre , Cologne, Germany
Diary dates
15-16 Jun 2022
ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
01-07 Dec 2022
tbc, Dunedin, New Zealand
Diary dates
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