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The 2019 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report reveals that the UK health and fitness industry is healthier than it has ever been. It has more gyms, more members and a greater market value than ever before. Several key milestones have been achieved over the last 12 months. The total UK membership has broken the 10 million mark and the industry is now worth more than £5 billion for the first time. The elusive 15% penetration rate has not only been reached but exceeded with it now standing at 15.6%. In the UK, 1 in every 7 people is a member of a gym.

The 2019 report highlights that the industry, over the 12 month period to the end of March 2019, has seen increases of 2.9% in the number of fitness facilities, 4.7% in the number of members and 4.2% in market value. The rate of growth for members and market value is higher than last year across the public and private sectors. Has the private sector weathered the rise of the boutique studios? Has the public sector finally stabilised against the low-cost market?

Pure Gym and GLL remain the UK’s leading private and public operators (by number of gyms and members). In 2018, Pure Gym became the first operator to reach 200 clubs and this year they are joined by GLL (with 203 gyms).

Commenting on the figures, David Minton, Director of LeisureDB said: “As seen in the record-breaking figures from this report, the UK is enjoying a golden period of growth and exciting development across the fitness sector. It’s a great time to be working and reporting on the industry. As operators compete against the at-home fitness revolution, boutique studios and tech-enabled fitness, they must continue to provide more than just gyms; experiences are essential to hold customers attention. The last year has seen continued investment into ‘fitness-tainment’ and there is still plenty of opportunity for creativity and growth.”


Summary of Key Facts

  • The number of fitness facilities in the UK is up from 7,038 to 7,239 this year.

  • Total membership grew by 4.7% to 10.4 million.

  • Total market value increased by 4.2% to £5.1 billion.

  • The UK penetration rate passed 15% for the first time.

  • 215 new fitness facilities opened in the last 12 months, down from 275 in 2018.



The State of the UK Fitness Industry Report is compiled from the most comprehensive review of the UK fitness industry, involving individual contact with all sites. The reporting period is the 12 months to 31st March 2019. The audit and resulting figures are compiled by independent leisure market analysts, LeisureDB, who have been monitoring the performance of the fitness industry for over 30 years. Further details of the report can be found here 2019 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report.

Balance Festival 2019

Today the team attended Balance Festival at the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch. It’s the UK’s largest celebration of the wellness movement and it’s the festival’s second year running. There’s wellness talks, group exercise classes with top boutique fitness studios and so many delicious freebies to try!

We tried out three types of classes: HIIT, strength and sculpting. The first was a very sweaty class called ‘The Games’ by KXU which involved flipping tyres, pushing sleds, rowing, assault bike, weights, ball slams and much more! Next we did BLOK’s demanding strength class which pushed our muscles to their limits. To round off the day we finished with Method Movement’s Brazilian style sculpting class which focused on toning the glutes and core.


Elevate 2019

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Yesterday was the opening day of the annual Elevate event at London ExCel. It’s the UK’s largest physical activity trade show and hosts over 350 exhibitors and 300 speakers.

David was a guest speaker and his presentation about the “golden age of fitness” revealed headline stats from the 2019 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report which is due out next week. He also chaired a panel discussing “what do customers really want?” with speakers from the Bannatyne Group, Sky, PromotePR and Hussle (formerly PayasUGym).

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Workouts at London's boutique studios

Following the release of LeisureDB’s London Boutique Studio Report the team have visited a number of boutique fitness studios across the city.

In the past few months we’ve tried classes at Ministry of Sound Fitness, Equilibrium, The Yard at Third Space, Ten Health & Fitness, 1Rebel, Digme and many more. Check out @thefitness4 on Instagram for more of the team’s fitness adventures.

Equilibrium near King’s Cross opened mid February 2019 and it’s one of the team’s new favourite studios. The elegantly designed workout space and incredible training staff has drawn the team back time and time again. The classes are challenging and incorporate three pieces of equipment: TRX, TRX RIP TRAINER and Technogym SKILLMILL.

Fitness is getting more fashionable

Fitness is getting more fashionable, which is good news for the franchise industry…

There are over 7,000 gyms in the UK for the first time, up by 4.5 per cent year on year, while total membership is approaching 10 million (up two per cent).

One in every 7 people in the UK is a member of a gym, according to the 2018 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report. And more growth is predicted.

David Minton, director of LeisureDB, which published the report, says: “After being widely quoted from last year’s report about ‘the golden age of fitness’, I’m sticking to my prediction that the period up to 2020 remains the time for fitness to continue to break all barriers.”

Fitness looks like a good industry to get into, but setting up a gym on your own requires in-depth knowledge of the sector and putting significant capital at risk.

However, many of the top UK fitness brands are franchises, which may be an easier route in. Typically, the franchisor helps you choose the right location, fit out your centre and arrange launch marketing. As a franchisee, you benefit from its training and sector experience.

Which type of gym franchise is for you?

Some franchises offer the traditional full service gym, with exercise equipment, rooms for classes and a team of staff. Others, often smaller, provide members with 24-hour card access, with staff available only between certain hours, and off er ‘budget’ membership.

David says: “At present ‘boutique studios’ are increasing - smaller, stylish places with high class instructors, expensive toiletries and healthy food. They deliver an experience, rather than just an exercise session - all for a premium price.”

Some of the bigger fitness franchises are already incorporating this. Mike Carr, sales manager at the énergie Fitness franchise, says: “We are rolling out the YARD Club, a boutique-type space within the larger club. Technology monitors class participants’ heart rates, so trainers can safely deliver individualised workouts.”

Training trends

Competition means that keeping up with the latest type of workout or exercise class can make or break your gym business, so choosing a franchise that keeps up with trends is important.

Currently, many gyms are offering functional fitness - group classes where specialist trainers deliver routines that train the muscles for daily tasks, while focusing on core stability.

Sport England’s Active Lives Adult Survey 2018 showed more people went to fitness classes, especially yoga, pilates and high intensity interval training (HIIT).

An extra 84,800 people are doing combat sports, martial arts, boxing and boxing fitness classes. Many fitness franchises are already on to this.

A future trend?

Norwegian chain HITIO Gym, recently launched in the UK, brings together combat sports with a trend new to the UK - families with children exercising at the same time.

Chief executive Mark Chambers says: “We plan to open two gyms here in Q1 2019 that off er daily classes in martial arts for children, self defence for women and boxing fitness. We also have the usual gym machines and free weights. It means parents can exercise while their children are doing classes.”

HITIO is targeting market town locations and is looking for franchisees keen on community involvement - another current fitness industry trend that encourages franchisees to promote the business through sponsorship and at local events.

Impact of technology

The rise of wearable technology and smartphone fitness apps might be expected to negatively impact gym use, but David says it’s just the opposite. “We found no evidence that these have reduced gym membership,” he explains. “In fact, we found that apps have encouraged some people to join, as they have become motivated to monitor their fitness.

Mark adds: “We offer énergie Fitness members an app that links to wearable tech such as a Fitbit, so their gym and outdoor workouts can be brought together in one place, driving them to better their performance. Apps can also bring members together by offering them the chance to take part in member competitions, which increases the community aspect of the club and helps member retention.”

Combining business and passion

Mike Racz has 40 franchised businesses across several sectors, including food. He got into the fitness industry with an Anytime Fitness gym in Gateshead in 2017 and now has seven.

Mike says: “I’ve always been into fitness and used to be a personal trainer, so this combines business and passion.”

Comparing fitness to food and drink franchises, he says: “With a coffee or pizza business, you’re always fighting to get repeat business from hundreds of customers daily. With Anytime Fitness, your customers are loyal for at least 12 months and hopefully longer.

“Retention is vital in the fitness industry, even more so than getting new members. You have customers that will stay with you for years and it’s great that you can nurture relationships with them in a way you can’t in other sectors.

“Regarding staffing, in hospitality you’re easily looking at 20-30 staff per store, but at an Anytime Fitness club it’s more like five or six. With less staff overheads and the longevity of customers, it’s a great platform to run a successful and profitable business.”

Are you fit for a fitness franchise?

Running a successful fitness centre takes more than a passion for fitness and a desire to make money. Here are some points to consider:

  • Owning a fitness centre will test your business skills more than your capacity for bicep curls. Fitness franchises offer training and support in setting up and running your business, but previous management experience helps.

  • It pays to get involved. Many fitness franchises are happy for you to be an investor who appoints a manager to run your fitness centre, but if you want your business to grow be proactive in setting business goals, motivating your team and prioritising marketing, both in your community and on social media.

  • Fitness means working with people. People management skills and customer awareness help.

  • Fitness franchises typically start at around £100,000, so ensure you have enough capital behind you.

Original article: https://www.what-franchise.com/business-advice/running-a-franchise/fitness-is-getting-more-fashionable

David Minton Podcast with Bryan O'Rourke

While in Bologna, Italy for the ForumClub event David spoke about ‘Fitness & Technology’ with Bryan O’Rourke. Please see link below:

Key Information:

David’s Powerful Quote:

“I don't think we're taking a wider view of education in the industry. There are too many suppliers who don't follow through with education, and it's a real shame.”

Highlighed key topics discussed:

Bryan and David, together in Bologna, Italy, for the 20th anniversary of ForumClub, comment upon that country's place in the fitness landscape, where work-life balance is key, and where big companies like TechnoGym call home.

David draws upon his decades years of experience to share three things the industry gets wrong about data today, as well as his beliefs regarding education and the lack of free educational services in the fitness industry when compared to the tech industry.

Bryan asks David to explain the importance of storytelling in the fitness industry, and why some businesses are making a mistake by not better branding their experience and what makes them unique.

David talks about the 2018 London Boutique Studio Report that LeisureDB has just released, for what many consider to be the most competitive fitness marketplace in the world.


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Boutique fitness attracts a wide range of investment

London’s growth in both supply and demand for boutique studios has become the fastest growing fitness segment. By the end of October 2018, London had 278 boutique sites with over 400 studios offering 15,806 classes each week. The popularity of this segment, which sets itself apart by offering captivating experiences providing a memorable visit, is detailed in the new benchmark report 2018 London Boutique Studio Report.

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The boutique studio trend should come as no surprise as Barry’s, for example, started in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, 20 years ago and other concepts like ‘spinning’ are even more mature. Boutique concepts are not new; London is awash with cool, hip hotels, bars selling craft beer from microbreweries, wine bars specialising in boutique wineries and there’s no end to the number of baristas adding value to the simple coffee bean. People are prepared to pay a premium to have a story to tell; an experience, to understand the provenance and to be part of a tribe.

Boutique studios are cashing in on this movement and the 2018 Report explores the growth since 2011. Details include studio type, number, classes, location, capacity, extra facilities and live links to the social media channels. A breakdown and history of the main boutique styles (HIIT, Mind & Body and CrossFit) are provided along with charts showing the number of weekly classes across all sites.

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This is the most fitness-tainment moment London has known in our time and it’s a safe bet to say the research team at LeisureDB are not only the fittest but most well informed on what makes a great experience, after taking classes at every main brand.

This movement couldn’t happen without investment, imagination and some clever mash-up of athletic-wear, fashion, music, some inventive collaborations and design. In London, the investment and co-branding has been on a more British scale with hype and queues to get into classes more muted than NYC and LA. Crowd Funding has helped brands like 1Rebel, BLOK, Core Collective and Boom Cycle, contributing around £10 million towards growth. Investment firms like Codex Capital (1Rebel), Piper (Frame), Encore Capital (Another Space) and Pembroke VCT (Boom Cycle) are some of the early investors with around £20 million committed so far. Private investment from former and current professional boxers and fighters, local and international franchise operations plus industry specialists are fuelling the growth.

After the investment comes the imagination, design and experience which people are prepared to pay for. BXR, a fitness site with boutique studios launched in January 2017, is a passion project for the undefeated boxer Anthony Joshua. It has been experimenting with ‘drop-culture’ to create demand and urgency, a strategy pioneered by streetwear brands like Supreme and Palace. So, drop in to see the next Joshua fight (it was a great evening), to the Selfridges Residency (a pop-up first) and Victoria Secret (shhh, it’s a secret).

BXR, like top end fashion brands, have developed a diffusion line with three studios on a pay-as-you-go basis called Sweat. BLOK is where fitness meets art in seductive spaces. Celebrity endorsements and photoshoots provide global exposure for their cool brand and studios. The legendary Ministry of Sound nightclub and multimedia entertainment business opened London’s first studio fitness nightclub. Located in the club’s previous back-of-house vault, it takes the club-style sound system plus lighting and pairs it with HIIT classes. Digme (named after a beach in Hawaii) opened in London thanks to Geoff and Caoimhe. Number one in the classes league table is Frame, run by Pip and Joan, who are also busy designing their own workout gear, a concept called ‘MumHood’ and an Academy (no wonder they need the occasional Negroni)! Rize, formerly Movers and Shapers, is growing out in the community with three sites. Ten, founded by Joanne, has grown to eight sites with a more intense version of Dynamic Pilates. F45, where no workout is ever the same, has over 20 studios in London with its many devotees. Another Space has three types of classes and doing a combination of all three is the norm now. There are thirty main brands, with two or more sites, featured in the report with unique benchmarking facts and figures on each.

The scale of investment and collaborations in the USA speaks volumes for the ‘can-do’ positive attitude that flows from the west coast. Venture capitalists, private equity firms, family offices, real estate firms, hotels have all developed an appetite for boutiques and seen how new concepts can add value to their existing investments.

Luxury brands are linking with street power brands and collaborations are going mainstream. Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), who have over 60 prestigious brands, partnered with Catterton, a private equity firm, in 2016. The re-branded L Catterton is one of the largest, diversified consumer-dedicated private equity firms in the world. Three of L Catterton portfolio of boutique companies are named in The World’s Most Innovative Companies 2018 by Fast Company.

Included in the Wellness listing at number 1 is Peloton, for bringing the boutique fitness experience into the home. Number 7 is Pure Barre for stretching the appeal of ballet-based exercise and number 8, Equinox, for breaking further into the luxury wellness industry with its new hotel concept. The Equinox owned SoulCycle is at number 6. L Catterton also have investments in CorePower Yoga, the UK athleisure brand Sweaty Betty and for the cyclists reading this, Pinarello.

TPG Growth is another red-hot investor in this sector and Mark Grabowski joined in 2016 after leaving L Catterton, where he worked on the Peloton and Pure Barre deals. TPG Capital, the main investment firm, owns a stake in USA fitness gym operator Life Time Fitness which it took private in 2015 with Leonard Green & Partners from LA, in a $2.8bn leveraged buyout. Leonard Green & Partners purchased the UK’s largest low-cost brand Pure Gym, in 2017. Grabowski has now spun out of TPG, raised his own fund and partnered with Anthony Geisler to buy Xponential with the idea of curating various boutique fitness concepts under one umbrella. The holding company currently has Club Pilates, Stretch Lab, Cyclebar, Row House, AKT, Yoga Six and in 2017 had almost $150 million in revenue. Cyclebar will be the first brand to open next to the new Embassy of the United States in London’s wider Battersea development this year, while master franchises, will be appointed to expand all brands throughout Europe.

Hotels and real estate companies have been expanding the boutique concept to include fitness. Hilton Hotels, a legendary name in the hospitality industry, is listed number 3 in the Fast Company Wellness listing for building hotel rooms that double as gyms with its Five Feet to Fitness initiative. Hilton have also installed 6 Les Mills ‘The Trip’ virtual studios in the UK. Hyatt Hotels acquired Exhale, a 15-year-old boutique spa concept with 25 locations, in 2017 to add to the Miraval, a provider of wellness experiences, to deliver wellness to guests. Marriott International own the five W Hotels in NYC and have partnered with Swerve Fitness locations at Midtown and Flatiron. Guests get a Swerve swag bag and unlimited rides during the stay. At Swerve you ride in ‘teams’ (Red, Green and Blue) for 45 minutes of rhythm rides bringing indoor cycling and team competition.

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Another NYC hotelier, Michael Achenbaum, who’s behind the sleek Gansevoort Hotels, opened the Curtain Hotel and members club in Shoreditch, London, with local developer SUSD, May 2017. In the members club soundproofed live music studio, Boom Cycle (featured in the Report) pop-up opened for members. The pop-up has moved on but as Achenbaum says, “boutique, hotels and fitness, are redefining creativity”.

The Related Companies first Equinox-branded hotel with 60,000 square foot gym and spa will join Related Companies boutique brands like SoulCycle and Rumble in NYC Manhattan’s West Side in a new $25 billion Hudson Yards development, a new model for urban renewal. An interesting aside, Thomas Heatherwick, one of London’s most original thinkers, responsible for the new Routemaster buses in London, the Rolling Bridge at Paddington Basin and the London Olympics 2012 Cauldron, is creating his monumental $200 million artwork ‘Vessel,’ a honeycomb like staircase, to be the focal point for Hudson Yards.

This first comprehensive report on the growth of Boutique Studios in London provides unique insight, with benchmarking, into the fastest growing fitness segment. Copies of the report can be purchased and downloaded here.

Article written by:

David Minton, Founder & Director of Leisure DB

January 2019

UK Prime Ministers Influence on Sports Policy 1948-2018

The 1948 Summer Olympics, known as the Austerity Games, took place in London when the country was recovering from war. At this time sports and politics did not mix; Clement Atlee, leader of the Labour Party in 1945-1951, had a mandate to implement post-war reforms but sport was not a priority. As the government had a no sports policy, the Olympics was instead overseen by the British Olympic Authority (BOA) as it is known today. The BOA was created in 1905 and predates the Olympic movement. It’s many sports governing bodies were run as voluntary enterprises often with Royal patronage.

The 1950’s was a decade of many British world champions, including sporting hero Roger Bannister who broke the four-minute mile in 1954. The world champions had little to no impact on the three Conservative Prime Ministers (Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan) of the time. However, after Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in Westminster Abbey in 1953, the Royal patronage of sport expanded quickly, and the Monarch became a patron of BOA.

The swinging ‘60’s brought rapid change through a youth-driven cultural revolution and a flourishing art, fashion, music, transport, technology and sport scene. The first politician responsible for sport was Quintin Hogg, known as The Viscount Hailsham from 1950 to 1963. Hogg was given several special assignments by Macmillan, including Minister with special responsibility for Sport but it was short lived (1962-1964) as Hailsham had little interest in sport, and later wrote that “the idea of a Minister for Sport has always appalled me”.

Harold Wilson’s Labour Government, in keeping with the mood of the ‘60’s, sponsored liberal changes and promoted the popular Denis Howell as first Minister of Sport. Howell, a keen sports man served from 1964-70 and again in 1974-1979 becoming the longest serving Sports Minister to date. Howell was a tireless crusader on sporting issues and even campaigned in vain for Birmingham, his home city, to host the Olympic Games. Howell was a top football referee and headed several commissions including the Central Council of Physical Recreation (CCPR) which has now reborn as Sport and Recreation Alliance. The committee enquired into sponsorship of sport culminating in the Howell Report of November 1983. Howell had Wilson’s approval in supporting the 1966 FIFA World Cup, when England beat West Germany 4-2 in the final. Howell and Wilson also worked on pioneering government sports policy including establishing the Sports Council, now Sport England.

Denis Howell, Minister for Sport, lifting weights after opening a new sports and leisure centre in Birmingham, 26th Sept 1977

Denis Howell, Minister for Sport, lifting weights after opening a new sports and leisure centre in Birmingham, 26th Sept 1977

After the party of the ‘60’s, came the hangover and the hands-off approach of the 1970’s and ‘80’s. In 1970, Edward Heath came to power and the decade is remembered for power cuts, strikes, shocking economic headlines. The decade ended with Margaret Thatcher coming into power from 1979 until 1990. Thatcher exemplified the total indifference towards sport and some would say even encouraged the ‘50’s hands-off approach to include reduced school sports, sale of playing fields, and questioning the need for the Sports Council, or even a Minister for Sport.  Sport went into a slump until Thatcher appointed the former Olympian Colin Moynihan as Sports Minister in 1987-1990. Moynihan who was actively involved in rowing and boxing, held many positions on sports boards, committees and commissions including the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and BOA. He was also a Director on London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) in the build up to the 2012 Olympics.

Lord Moynihan published a report after the Beijing Olympics that stated over 50% of the Team GB’s medallists had been privately educated meaning that half of the medals came from just 7% of the population who had been privately educated. Moynihan said it is, ‘one of the worst statistics in British Sport’ and the vowed to work towards giving the 93% an equal opportunity.

The unlikely hero of sporting success and the unlikely successor to Thatcher was John Major, Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997. Major realised British sporting success could present political opportunities and it was his government that launched the National Lottery, of which sport is a key beneficiary. As funding for Olympic sports increased so did the number of medals. In 1996 Atlanta, Britain came 36th in the medal table and had funding of around £5 million. Four years later in Sydney Britain rose to 10th place and the lottery funding had jumped to around £70 million.

If Major’s government got the ball rolling then Tony Blair’s government, 1997-2007, ramped up investment in sport at all levels. Blair’s government appointed the charismatic Tony Banks as Sports Minister (1997-1999) then the dedicated Kate Hoey, 1999-2001. From 2001, Britain entered the longest period of stability for sports with Tessa Jowell as Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) in 2001-2007 and Minister for the Olympics in 2005-2010. Jowell’s running mate was Richard Caborn, Sports Minister 2001-2007. Together they campaigned for and won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics. They also agreed on the first audit of all indoor and outdoor sports facilities.

Dame Tessa Jowell spent nearly a decade at the Department of Media, Culture and Sport

Dame Tessa Jowell spent nearly a decade at the Department of Media, Culture and Sport

Prince William and Sports Minister Richard Caborn at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany

Prince William and Sports Minister Richard Caborn at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany

By the time of the Beijing Games in 2008, UK Sport budget to fund Olympic athletes had grown to £264 million and Britain finished fourth in the medal table. Four years later in London a total of £1.2 billion budget was allocated to non-Olympic Delivery Authority activities, such as elite and community sports, the Paralympics Games and security. Britain finished third in the medal table. 

Tony Blair became the first former prime minister to launch a sports foundation carrying his name in the constituency he represented for 24 years. The Blair Foundation invested in local people to make the most of themselves through sport between 2007-2017.

Tony Blair at the launch of his Sports Foundation in 2007

Tony Blair at the launch of his Sports Foundation in 2007

Blair, Jowell and Caborn believed in sport for social change and worked on improving sports policy to reflect this.

Whilst writing this article the Conservative MP for Eastleigh, Mims Davies, has been appointed Under Secretary of State for Sport & Civil Society following the resignation of Tracey Crouch who stood down on principal over delays of fixed-odds betting reforms. Theresa May remains Prime Minister. 

In the historical drama series, The Crown, from Netflix, there’s one person the Prime Minister refers to each week. Queen Elizabeth II every Tuesday at 5.30pm meets with the Prime Minister of the day. At one of these weekly audiences David Cameron, PM in 2010-2015, suggested that the Queen’s acting debut could bring the Monarch, the Olympics, 007 James Bond together for the first time. The Queen agreed to appear in the spoof James Bond sketch where Bond arrives at Buckingham Place to escort Her Majesty to the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.   

The Royal Family tradition of promoting and supporting sport has been prominent since 1953. Queen Elizbeth II presented the trophy at the FIFA World Cup in 1966, the Queen was also at Wimbledon to present Virginia Wade her singles title in 1977. The Queen’s husband, Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was patron, president or a member of over 780 organisations most of which were sports related.

The Queen’s grandchildren continue the tradition. Prince William, Prince Harry and their wives Kate and Meghan are all ambassadors that sport has the power to change lives for the better. Prince Harry has championed the value of sport in helping wounded servicemen become mentally and physically stronger through his work with Invictus Games.

One thing’s for sure, in 2019 and 2020 British politicians and royalty will be in Japan to watch the greatest sporting spectacular and support the British teams and athletes.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, promoting the 2018 Sydney Invictus Games

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, promoting the 2018 Sydney Invictus Games

By David Minton

Original Article - Sasakawa Sports Foundation


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The 2018 London Boutique Studio Report shows that the London boutique studio market is rapidly expanding. There are 278 boutique studios across the city: 114 HIIT studios, 111 Mind & Body studios and 53 CrossFit studios. They offer over 15k classes each week and at any one time, 9.6k people could be taking part in a class.

The 2018 report highlights that the number of boutique studios has grown by 281% over the last 5 years. 2018 has already seen over 60 new boutique studios open in London (up until 31st October), the highest number yet. This compares to a total of 46 in 2017.

F45 Training, with 21 London studios, is the leading boutique operator (by number of sites). They are the first brand to exceed 20 London locations, after adding 16 new studios in 2018. 

Commenting on the figures, David Minton, Director of LeisureDB said: “The boutique studio trend should come as no surprise; fitness is simply playing catch up to other industries. Retail, hotels, food and drink have been establishing small, hip boutique options for some time. People are prepared to pay a premium to have more of an experience and be part of a tribe. Boutique fitness studios are a part of this movement and are cashing in, particularly in London”.

Summary of Key Facts

  • The number of boutique studios in London is 278.

  • There are 114 HIIT studios, 111 Mind & Body studios and 53 CrossFit studios.

  • 61 studios opened between the period 1st January to 31st October 2018, up from 46 in 2017.

  • There are 15,806 boutique classes on offer across London each week.

  • The total boutique studio capacity across the 278 sites in London is 9,629 people (at any one time).



The London Boutique Studio Report is compiled from the most comprehensive review of the London boutique industry, involving individual contact with all sites and the brands featured. The audit was conducted as of 31st October 2018. The audit and resulting figures are compiled by independent leisure market analysts, LeisureDB, who have been monitoring the performance of the fitness industry for over 30 years. Further details of the report can be found here 2018 London Boutique Studio Report.

Further Information:


LeisureDB (formerly The Leisure Database Company) is a leading independent database specialist who provides key market intelligence and analysis across the industry. Established over 30 years ago, the company works with a wide range of fitness operators, providing member profiling reports, new site analysis, latent demand estimates, statistics and data licenses.



Tel: 020 3735 8491

Aggregators - To aggregate or not to aggregate, that is the question

The health and fitness industry has been slow to adopt aggregators. Are clubs right to be cautious, or are they missing out on business? Kath Hudson finds out more…

By Kath Hudson | Published in Health Club Management 2018 issue 9


If you’ve ever used an aggregator service, such as Expedia or lastminute.com, to book a flight or find a holiday, you’ll know from a consumer’s point of view how useful they can be to both find what you want and get a good deal: they make the information transparent and give the benefit of customer reviews, special offers and consolidated services.

However, the health and fitness industry is very different from travel. One’s global, while the other is local. People are motivated to go on holiday, but can be resistant to exercise. Health clubs want to build day-to-day loyalty and relationships, while the travel industry is less concerned with this.

There are a number of other reasons to be cautious, including the fear of losing control of data and the customer base, and concerns about paying a commission to get the same customers or being forced into discounting.

However, if you always do what you always did, you always get what you’ve always had, so if the industry wants to increase penetration rates, it needs to start looking for different ways to mobilise new audiences.

Aggregators bring extra marketing budgets and new technology to the table, which can translate into different customers being brought into the industry, so they’re definitely worth consideration.

If you’re thinking about giving aggregators a go, shop around first. There are a number of different choices in terms of business model and you need to know whether they focus on B2C or B2B.

Choose one that cares about growing the market and as Nishal Desai, co-founder of imin says: “Go forward with your eyes open and hands on the steering wheel. Choose to work with those companies in a way that puts you firmly in control and keeps you there.”

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The benefits of exercising to music

By Chay Westall

Everyone loves listening to music in the gym.

I’ve even arrived at the gym, realised I'd forgotten my earphones and then gone home to get them because the idea of completing an hour workout in silence is just too stressful. 

Have you ever been on a long car journey? Maybe traveling away with a couple of friends that you haven’t seen in a while, have loads to catch each other up on and suddenly you have arrived at the hotel and everyone goes “wow, we’ve arrived already!”

Well, this is due to your perception of time. When you have something to distract you like a conversation with friends, or your favourite music, you perceive time to go faster which brings me to the first benefit of exercising with music...DISTRACTION! No one would turn down the ability to make a 5km run feel like it takes half the time.

Not only does music distract you, it also motivates you to work harder. Listening to a song like Eye of the Tiger to 'get pumped', you can’t help but picture yourself as Rocky doing one-arm press ups, climbing the “Rocky Steps”, and sprinting through the streets of Philly. Let music boost your performance, listen to the words of Eminem's “Lose Yourself” and you’ll smash that 5k row.


Finally, there are the physiological changes that music has on your body:

  • Reduces stress
  • Increases heart rate
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Reduces feelings of fatigue

These changes all speak for themselves. So listen to music! Let it improve your mood and your performance...you won’t regret it!

Chelsea Physic Garden

Yesterday, the LeisureDB team visited the Chelsea Physic Garden, the oldest botanical garden in London, to celebrate David's birthday. 

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Chay's 13-minute circuit


With the days getting shorter and weather getting colder, day-to-day exercises such as walking to the shops will soon be replaced by a quick drive in the car. Instead of having a lovely picnic in the park, you may soon be watching a movie under a blanket.

If you are worried about putting on a few lbs, don't fret! I have you covered. 

Follow this 13-minute circuit, 3 times a week to burn calories and define your muscles over the coming months.

All exercises should be completed at 100% effort with 45 seconds between sets.

Set 1 - 30s Burpees, 30s Jumping Jacks, 30s Mountain Climbers

Set 2 - 30s Jogging, 15s Press Ups, 15s Sit Ups, 15s Squats, 15s Plank

Set 3 - 30s Burpees, 30s Jumping Jacks, 30s Mountain Climbers

Set 4 - 30s Jogging, 15s Press Ups, 15s Sit Ups, 15s Squats, 15s Plank

Set 5 - 20s Lunges, 20s Heel Kicks, 20s Donkey Kicks (Left Leg), 20s Donkey Kicks (Right Leg)

Set 6 - 30s Sit & Reach, 30s Downward Dog, 60s Cat & Cow Stretches

Once you have finished, why not treat yourself to poached eggs on wholemeal toast? This meal will aid recovery and set you up for the rest of the day.

Why not start tomorrow!

Calories and losing weight

By Chay Westall

How many people can say they go a whole day without thinking about calories and losing weight?

Calories are the body's energy source, it fuels you when completing your daily circuit class, and even when walking to the kitchen to make that morning cup of tea. Still we devote so much time to calorie counting…they’re not the enemy, are they?

Well! The last report published by the NHS shows that 26% of the UK’s adult population is obese, up 15% since 1993. Yet the 2018 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report revealed there are 9.9 million fitness members, more than ever before! So why are obesity levels still rising?

The simple matter of the fact is, your body will have plateaued. It has been adapted by three main areas: diet, activity level, and resting metabolic rate, you are the final product. To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you use. Obviously, it can get extremely complicated with what your body needs including: carbohydrates, fats and a whole array of micronutrients.


Protein seems to be a macronutrient that is commonly over consumed, especially in the fitness industry. If asked, would you know how much protein you need to consume a day? A competing bodybuilder for example, may need to consume around 1.7g of protein per kg of their body weight a day; if that man weighed 80kg, he would need 136g (just under 23 large eggs or 481g of chicken breast).

However, that’s for a bodybuilder, the rest of us only need 0.8-1.2g/kg, and yet, the last national nutrition survey showed that we consume 45-55% more than recommended. With weight gain being a side effect of excess protein, over consumption certainly doesn’t help lower obesity levels.

So, what about all these different diets: low-calorie, low-Carb, vegan… Are they working? They can but only because the calorie intake is less, simple! Despite this, did you know that the weight you lose on extreme low-calorie diets tends to be muscle mass and not fat? Realistically then, you have three options:

  1. Gradually reducing your calorie intake while sticking to the same routine such as snacking on a banana rather than a Bounty.
  2. Maintaining the same diet and increasing activity levels, for example a female going for a brisk 30 minute walk a day, 5-days a week will expend an extra 550 calories.
  3. A little of both.

Everyone knows what foods and drinks are bad for them, you don’t need to look at the contents to figure it out. Make small changes to your diet and lifestyle and you’ll start to notice the difference. 

Sweat by BXR

By Chay Westall

On a sunny Thursday afternoon, the LeisureDB team (plus friends of the company) headed to Anthony Joshua’s BXR gym in Marylebone to experience the new cardio class, Sweat. Utilising cutting-edge technology, this 45-minute VersaClimber session offered us a total body workout. On average, the class burns 8-9 extra calories a minute than the equivalent group cycling sessions…. meaning you could have just over 3 glasses of red wine, and not feel guilty!


Just don’t think for one second that these classes are a walk in the park! It’s rightfully named the “Sweat studio”! The nightclub environment guarantees to have your muscles burning, but at least you’ll complete the class with a grin on your face as you sing and climb to the beat.

Not only can you feel the calories fall away, the engineering and design of the VersaClimber means you are exercising in a way that causes zero stress to the body, unlike running or CrossFit classes.

If you’re tired of the same old circuits or spinning classes, this unique, climbing-based class will definitely mix up your fitness routine!

Give it a go! What have you got to lose?

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July: Gym Owner Monthly

Pure Gym and GLL have strengthened their positions as the UK’s leading private and public operators (by number of gyms and members). Pure Gym have become the first operator to reach 200 clubs and impressively passed the 1 million member mark earlier this year. GLL, with 194 gyms, are also likely to break the 200 milestone in the next year.

Source: Gym Owner Monthly

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