The English Season

There is no better time to watch sport in England than the summer months. The unique collection of sporting events is known as the ‘season’ and runs from May to August each year. Many of these sporting/social events evolved in the 17th and 18th centuries by the landowning aristocratic and gentry families to affirm their privilege and social superiority. The social elite lived, for the most part, on their country estates but spent the summer in London to socialise, play and watch sport. It was also an opportunity to mix with royalty, as most events had, and still has, royal patronage.

The Sports season remains heavily biased towards equestrianism. Royal Ascot, founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, is still owned by the Crown Estate. The Queen arrives each day during Ascot Week, with members of the Royal Family, along the track in horse drawn landaus. Fashion is a huge part of Ascot culture, particularly the impressive and over-the-top hats worn by the ladies.


The Derby is the richest horse race in Britain and the most prestigious of the five classics and was first run in 1780. The Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey brings rich and poor together and to this day crowds need not pay a penny to watch the race and all can enjoy the race and funfair from the Downs. This famous flat horse race, over a distance of one mile, four furlongs and 6 yards (2,420 metres) is on the first Saturday of June each year. It has inspired many similar events around the world including the Tokyo Yushun.

The Grand National first ran in 1839 over the National Course which includes 16 fences, at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool. It is now estimated that up to 600 million people in over 140 countries, including Japan, watch this most valuable jump race in Europe.

Tennis started at the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), home to Wimbledon, in 1877 and it’s estimated that over 1 billion people watch Wimbledon worldwide. There’s only 375 Full Members of AELTC which is based on the number of seats in the original stand. Around 70 honorary memberships are held by past singles championship winners.


The world’s first multipurpose sports complex to be built in 1886 was The Queens Club in
Hammersmith. It still has 27 outdoor lawn tennis courts, 2 Real Tennis courts and organises one of the pre-Wimbledon competitions each June.

The Lords Test Match takes place at the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) which was founded in 1787. There are 18,000 full members and 5,000 associate members of the MCC who collectively own the ground and the Ashes. The term ‘ashes’ was first used after England lost to Australia on home soil in 1882. The MCC members wear the famous red and gold striped jacket and tie, affectionately referred to as ‘egg and bacon.’ The waiting list to become a full MCC member is 27 years.

The Boat Race, on the River Thames, between Oxford and Cambridge Universities, began in 1829 and takes place each year with an estimated 250,000 spectators watching from the riverside and bridges. The spirit of competition is so strong between the teams that Olympic standard rowers often compete. Sir Mathew Pinsent, who rowed for Oxford in 1990, ’91 and ’93 went on to win 10 world championship gold medals and four Olympic gold medals.

Outside London on the Isle of Wight, Cowes Week which began in 1826 and is run by one of the most prestigious and exclusive yacht clubs in the world. The Royal Yacht Squadron which was started in 1815 by 42 original members who agreed to meet every three months for dinner. 200 year’s later membership has grown to just 450, there’s no waiting list, you wait to be invited. 1,000 boats in up to forty different handicap multihull classes race every day for eight days. It’s the mixture of classic, including several boats that raced more than 50 years ago, plus ultra-modern designs, that gives the regatta its uniqueness. Around a third, of the 8,000 competitors, are women and the range is from Olympic and world class to weekend sailors. Traditional seafaring members can also be found at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, founded in 1775 it is the oldest continuously operating yacht club in the world with its prestigious club house in Knightsbridge overlooking Hyde Park.

The most colourful water event is Henley Royal Regatta, the undisputed home of British Rowing and rich pageantry. First held in 1839. Rowing crews and former oarsmen wear handmade blazers in the colours, stripes and monogram of their team all topped off with a straw boater for men and a silk item for ladies. There’s a ten year wait to become a full member.


Dress codes apply to all events, particularly where the Queen plays an official role and if you have access to the Royal Enclosures, Member Areas, or Stewards Enclosure. At Royal Ascot, (pronounced Ascut), in the Royal Enclosure, gentlemen are required to wear either black or grey morning dress including a waistcoat with top hat. At Henley in the Steward’s Enclosure gentlemen must wear a jacket and tie and rowing club colours on a blazer or cap are de rigueur. Besides the dress code most events also insist on enamel style lapel badges and tags to comply with the traditional expectations of an Edwardian period garden party.

Between the sports wider arts and horticulture events began including; the Proms at the Royal
Albert Hall in 1895, the Chelsea Flower Show, organised by the Royal Horticultural Society in 1804 and the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, 1768. The Trooping of the Colour, one of the oldest seasonal events began in 1748. Many newer events have become firm favourites of the ‘season’ including opera in the country, like Glyndebourne and in London at Holland Park, Kensington. Polo on Smiths Lawn, Windsor, home to the Guards Polo Club the largest in Europe in terms of members and grounds. Badminton Horse Trials started in 1949 against the backdrop of the Dukedom that was created in 1682 and the 17th century Badminton House. The Royal Windsor Horse Show, first started in 1943 is now the only show in the UK to host international competition in show jumping, dressage, carriage driving, endurance and showing.

This year the ‘season’ has also had a sell-out exhibition at the British Museum, Hokusai, Beyond the Great Wave. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849 is one of Japan’s most famous artists and this exhibition takes you on a journey through the last 30 years of Hokusai’s life. A time when many of the English ‘season’ events were just starting.

David Minton
For SSF - July 2017

August: Gym Owner Monthly

The private low cost market

The 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report reveals that the UK health and fitness industry is continuing to grow. This growth is being primarily driven from the private sector, which has more clubs, more members and a greater market value than ever before.

The low cost market has continued to be the main driving force behind the private sector growth. There are now over 500 low cost clubs which account for 15% of the market value and 35% of membership in the private sector. The UK’s leading low cost operator is Pure Gym with over 180 gyms.


Original Source: Gym Owner Monthly

July: Health Club Management

World of Fitness

In the July Issue of Health Club Management, the IHRSA 2017 Global Report findings were published including statistics from the LeisureDB 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report...


"In the UK, based on research by LeisureDB, 9.7 million people belong to a private corporate health club, up from 9.3 million a year ago. Approximately 6,728 facilities in the UK generate a collective US$6.1 billion in industry revenue. Germany attracts more than 10 million members to 8,600 facilities and generates US$5.6 billion in revenue."

Original Source: Health Club Management

** The 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report can be downloaded via the link **

You And Yours - BBC Radio 4

David spoke with Samantha Fenwick, a reporter for 'You and Yours' (BBC Radio 4 programme) about the UK fitness industry. The number of gym memberships are increasing every year and David says that "group fitness is driving the industry growth as classes are no longer held in boring studios...operators are making gym experiences more enjoyable". Les Mills UK and Sport England commented on the increase in group exercise participation and how technology, such as virtual reality, will change group fitness forever. 

Listen to the full clip here:

July: Gym Owner Monthly

Focus on London...

The 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report reveals that there are now 6,728 fitness facilities in the UK with 12% of the sites being in London.

London alone has a staggering 1.7 million fitness members, that’s 1 in every 5 people in London being a member of a gym compared to 1 in every 7 within the UK.

The fitness industry within London has a market value of £1.14 billion (24% of the overall UK market value) and a penetration rate of 20%.


Original Source: Gym Owner Monthly


Wednesday was the annual #Flame2017 event run by UKActive & what a brilliant event it was. The day was spent attending a varied range of talks hosted by Olympic athletes to tech experts and the night was a fun-filled evening of awards, dancing & gin. 

The event kicked off with a thought provoking talk by Steven Ward, CEO of UKActive as he discussed the growing importance of promoting physical activity within the UK. Followed by Dave Wright, CEO of Myzone, who recently launched free virtual classes and a chat feature for trainers. 

Two keynote speakers then took over the stage - Jonathan MacDonald, the founder of Thought Expansion Network followed by Luis Huete, a business school professor & author. 

For the breakout sessions we attended two talks. The first by professional skipper, Alex Phillips who has spent an astounding 17 years at sea and travelled over 150,000 miles on the water. Back in 2000 she managed the yacht "Quadstone" in the BT Global Challenge, also known as "The World's Toughest Yacht Race". The race involves navigating a 70ft steel yacht 29,000 nautical miles around the world starting in Portsmouth and heading West to East.  

The afternoon keynote speaker was none other than track cyclist Jason Kenny, team GB's 6 Olympic Gold medal holder. Kenny and Tanni Grey-Thompson discussed what its like to be a world class athlete and of Kenny's experiences at the Beijing, London and Rio Olympics. A fantastic talk with fascinating insight into the world of professional sport!

The final breakout session of the day was with Professor Andy Miah, a futurist and lover of all things tech. Miah discussed technology trends, the future of sport and fitness and possibility of augmented reality gyms. Miah stated that the "crucial tech parameters of physical activity are mixed reality, mobile health and gamification". The future of sport and fitness is developing through a wide range of tech such as health based mobile apps, esports, wearables, artificial intelligence and ingestible sensors. What sort of possibilities could technology bring to the industry? Why isn't sport made more immersive with the use of technology? An example by Miah was the possibility of projecting the Olympic swimming races live onto pools so spectators could watch and feel part of the experience. And finally, what will it take to create an augmented reality gym? Play. Compete. Develop. Exercise. Research. 

The evening was brilliant and team LeisureDB smashed their daily step count by dancing into the early hours of Thursday morning. Sat with the wonderful (& nominated) Jubilee Hall Trust team during the awards ceremony...Congratulations to all of the award winners and runners up! A huge thank you to UKActive for another fantastic Flame event. See you next year! 

June: Gym Owner Monthly

Gym Owner Monthly's June issue was published today and stats from our 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry report have been featured on pg.11 ...


The 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry report highlights that the UK fitness industry is continuing to grow, with increases of 4.6% in the number of fitness facilities, 5.1% in the number of members and 6.3% in market value.

There are now over 9.7 million fitness members in the UK which has boosted the penetration rate to an all-time high of 14.9%.

David Minton, Director of LeisureDB says: “It may be premature to call the period to 2020 “the golden age of fitness” but further growth will only be limited to the imagination of those pushing the boundaries”.

June: Health Club Management

A golden age for the health club industry

The latest numbers from The Leisure Database Company show the market is growing strongly and anticipating a golden age between now and 2020. David Minton reports...

The number of gyms and members, the market value of the sector and penetration rates for memberships are the key metrics detailed in the 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report published by LeisureDB and they all show the UK fitness industry to be in rude health.

There are now over 9.7m fitness members (an increase of 5.1 per cent from 2016), which has boosted the penetration rate to an all-time high of 14.9 per cent, compared to 14.3 per cent 12 months ago. The market value has continued to grow and is now estimated to be £4.7bn, a 6.3 per cent increase. Now, in the UK, 1 in every 7 people are members of a gym – the most ever.

Budget success
The low-cost market has continued to be the main driving force of the industry. With over 500 sites, they now account for 15 per cent of the market value and an impressive 35 per cent of membership across the private sector.

Some trusts, management contractors and in-house operators across the public sector are also operating low-cost gyms and many of the low-cost brands have discovered that the strength of the market in some areas enables them to raise and move into the mid-market.

Fitness brands, with transparency of pricing and offering, are continuing to grow and by utilising good social media practices and constantly listening and responding to their customers, they are meeting and exceeding their needs.

However, they are not alone in pushing the boundaries and experimenting with innovation. Both the private mid-market operators and many public sector sites are also investing and expanding their market. Franchise brands have also had their best year to date and some top end brands are quoted as having more members now than ever before.

For the first time in five years, the public sector saw a small decline in membership numbers after closing more sites than it opened for the second year running. With almost 50 per cent of public sites still to go out to tender, the trusts and contract management companies have an opportunity to turn this decline back to growth in 2018 and beyond.

The trend data shows how the industry has grown over the last five years and in 2017 the industry now offers the widest possible choice of fitness options. New technology and innovation feeds into the existing industry at all levels and could in-part be responsible for helping expand the market.

Location search, live timetables and deeper booking integration will be commonplace very shortly through search engines, social media platforms and apps. Online class bookings, currently available across 41 per cent of the private sector and 61 per cent of the public, shows good levels of adoption, even if some of the interfaces are still clunky to use for the more tech-savvy consumers.

Meanwhile new fitness experiences, via travel companies, community groups and highly curated events, are often reliant on the consumer having higher levels of fitness to take part.

Boutiques and the growing fitness-for-free sector are all anecdotally helping expand the market, and opportunities at activewear shops, park gyms and meet-ups via apps all seem to be feeding into the core fitness industry.

The consumer brings greater expectation for a better and more connected experience, and despite the current political and fiscal uncertainties, the report remains very positive about the future. It may be a little premature to call the period between 2017 and 2020 the “golden age of fitness” but the industry is likely to reach some key milestones in 2018, including the number of fitness sites surpassing 7,000 for the first time, total membership exceeding 10m, market value totalling £5bn and the penetration rate easily surpassing 15 per cent of the total population. Obviously, the devil is in the detail and the detail is exactly what’s is in this report.

Details from

Original HCM article here



1st June 2017

The 2017 State of the UK Swimming Industry Report reveals that the number of pools has continued to decline slightly over the last 12 months. The number of swimming pool sites has dropped by 0.5%. For the fifth year in a row, more swimming pool sites have closed than opened.


The UK’s leading operator (by number of sites) is public leisure trust GLL, with 122 swimming centres. They are followed by Nuffield Health in the private sector who have 110 clubs with a swimming pool.


The 2017 report highlights that 84% of the UK population live within 2 miles of one of the 3,158 swimming pool sites.


Commenting on the figures, David Minton, Director of LeisureDB said: “Despite another slight decline in overall swimming pool numbers, technology and water that have previously caused a few issues for innovators are finally beginning to come together. New ideas and products to encourage swimming participation are emerging and it will be interesting to see how these developments impact the UK swimming pool market over the next 12 months”.

Summary of Key Facts

  • There are now 3,158 swimming sites in the UK, down from 3,173 last year.
  • 34 new public and private swimming pool sites opened, down from 40 in 2016.
  • Public pay and play fees have increased by 3% over the last 12 months.



The State of the UK Swimming Industry Report is compiled from the most comprehensive review of the UK swimming industry, involving individual contact with all sites. The reporting period is the 12 months to 31st March 2017. The audit and resulting figures are compiled by independent leisure market analysts, LeisureDB, who have been monitoring the performance of the fitness and swimming industry for over 30 years. Further details of the report can be found here 2017 State of the UK Swimming Industry Report.

The 2017 IHRSA Global Report

The 2017 IHRSA Global Report was published today and it shows that the global health club industry continues to grow. In 2016, the industry revenue totalled $83.1 billion, as 162.1 million members visited 201,000 clubs. 

LeisureDB's 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry report findings were featured in the report:

In spite of a weakening Euro and challenges in the political landscape, the fitness industry in Europe continues its robust performance. The European health club market serves more than 56 million members as nearly 55,000 health clubs generate $29 billion in revenue. The UK and Germany continue to lead all markets in Europe. In the UK, based on research by LeisureDB, 9.7 million members belong to a health club, up from 9.3 million a year ago. Approximately 6,728 facilities in the UK generate a collective $6.1 billion in industry revenue. Germany attracts more than 10 million members to 8,600 facilities and generates $5.6 billion in revenue.

The 2017 IHRSA Global Report can be purchased here

The 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report can be purchased here


Elevate 2017 - Kin Wellness

It’s set to be a high-energy Elevate 2017, here at London ExCel. Loads of innovative companies are exhibiting what’s new in the fitness industry, and leaders are here to talk current trends and future predictions.

The Business of Physical Activity

CEO of Kin Wellness, Anna Gudmundson, appeared on a panel this morning to talk about the business of physical activity, and the lively debate did not disappoint! David Minton of LeisureDB kicked it all off by setting the scene with an overview of disruption in the food and transport industry, as examples. (Good news, if AI continues to advance at the current pace, we might all have more time to spend at the gym?)

There is room for innovation and growth in any part of the industry, whether apps, trackers, gyms, clubs or the workplace. David also looked at how aggregators are gaining ground - after all, everything else is on demand, so why not fitness? The logical next step is how the fitness industry will be innovating to become disruptors themselves, especially in the current landscape of great social need and a growing health crisis.

Setting the Scene

This is something we are extremely excited about here at Kin, as we believe that corporate wellness will have a big part to play in the efforts to cope with our overburdened healthcare systems and improve our quality of life. Anna ran through our drivers and opportunities during the panel: with the NHS running up an unprecedented debt of nearly £2.5 billion, the fact that 88% of health issues on the radar are caused by lifestyle doesn’t just represent a crisis, but also great opportunity to help. We spend over 50% of our waking hours at work, so it is the perfect setting for addressing wellness.

Lifestyle and Experiences are Key

Michelle Dand of David Lloyd Leisure was the first to voice one of the main themes of the panel discussion - that experiences and value were increasingly central to their customers’ needs. Everyone is broadening their expectations of what a lifestyle brand could bring to them, Michelle observed, “we are not just four walls.” David Lloyd leverages partnerships to enrich their services offering. It was interesting to hear that so many of their clients take advantage of virtual gym sessions to accommodate their lifestyle needs.

Mat Bell of Tough Mudder agreed that experiences are the new luxury good, and that people are investing in travel, music festivals or challenge events instead of, for instance, a new car. Interestingly, he noted that social media and digital might bring everyone together before and after an event, but that during the challenge, everyone is focused on the human connections they make while their phone is safely away from the mud and the action. We also discovered that companies were taking advantage of Tough Mudder for team building.

What Makes a True Believer?

Passionately underpinning the human connection, Brian Schuring attested that people walk out of Heartcore completely connected with the brand because they are proud of themselves and are emerging from an authentic human experience. And that pride is what makes real people the best influencers; not necessarily the number of Instagram followers. The loyalty generated is a direct result of their emotional connection: engage them and leave them with a sense of empowerment. That is your fitness business, however you present fitness to the market.

Timing is Everything

At the helm of many businesses, such as Dryrobe and Scentered, Lara Morgan was overwhelmingly committed to health and life balance, but also to the value of our time. She pointed out that we are getting so intelligent about who the consumer is, and what the speed of life for them is during any given point in time, that we are headed for a lot of human-led change. She also made some compelling points that health is not taught enough at a young age, so we are playing catch-up and educating each other as adults how to look after ourselves.

Questions Answered Here...

During Q&A, the audience covered a lot of ground and gave the panelists a chance to circle back to talk about about how tech is affecting fitness, the role of private and public investment in the fitness and wellbeing industry, the rise of mental health awareness and more.

Anna quoted Sir Muir Gray’s bold recommendation that the NHS shift £100 million from drugs to physical activity as a shift in public perception. Everyone agreed that private investment and private innovation can drive public sector change, and David thinks the public sector growth is still to come. As always, it was exciting to hear from Lara and others that CEO’s everywhere are discovering that business performance demands a need to invest in wellness.

The business case for investing in employee wellbeing is a solid one, but aside from financial indicators, progress in this industry means happier and healthier people. To repeat Brian’s statement, engaging and empowering people is the mission of everyone bringing wellness and fitness to the market.

By Michelle Laven,

We've been quoted!

Following the release of the 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry report we're pleased to announce our stats have been quoted across the media!

The Guardian - "The budget gym boom: how low-cost clubs are driving up membership"

The Times - "It's Life, Gym"

The Times - "Budget gyms are flexing their muscles"

Leisure Opportunities/Health Club Management - "Private sector drives UK fitness industry growth"

Fitness News Europe - "Public sector dip in buoyant UK market"


2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report

8th May 2017

The 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report reveals that the UK health and fitness industry is continuing to grow. This growth is being primarily driven from the private sector, which has more clubs, more members and a greater market value than ever before.

There are now over 9.7 million fitness members in the UK which has boosted the penetration rate to an all-time high of 14.9%. 1 in every 7 people in the UK is a member of a gym.

The 2017 report highlights that the industry has experienced another year of impressive growth over the twelve month period to the end of March 2017, with increases of 4.6% in the number of fitness facilities, 5.1% in the number of members and 6.3% in market value. But the devil is in the detail as clear variations are seen between the performance of the public and private sectors in the key metrics over the last 12 months.

The low cost market has continued to be the main driving force behind the private sector growth over the last 12 months. There are now over 500 low cost clubs which account for 15% of the market value and an impressive 35% of membership in the private sector.

The UK’s leading operators, in both the public and the private sectors (by number of clubs and members), remain the same as last year: Pure Gym and GLL, with 176 and 167 gyms, respectively. Will either break the 200 mark over the next 12 months?

Commentating on the figures, David Minton, Director of LeisureDB said: “It may be premature to call the period to 2020 “the golden age of fitness” but further growth will only be limited to the imagination of those pushing the boundaries. The signs are there that the industry is likely to hit several milestones in the next 12 months. The number of gyms is on course to go over 7,000 for the first time, total membership to exceed 10 million, market value to reach £5 billion and the penetration rate should easily surpass 15%”.

Summary of Key Facts

  • There are now 6,728 fitness facilities in the UK, up from 6,435 last year.
  • Total industry membership is up 5.1% to 9.7 million.
  • Total market value is estimated at £4.7 billion, up 6.3% on 2016.
  • The UK penetration rate is 14.9%, compared to 14.3% in the previous year.
  • 272 new public and private fitness facilities have opened in the last 12 months, up from 224 in 2016.


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 2017. 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 2017 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report.

One London Techie Goes Swimmingly

A London start-up company has conquered the world with its swimming app, SwimIO. The app has recorded almost 3m swims covering a distance of 4 billion meters, that’s around the world 100 times.

Now live in 155 countries, SwimIO is the first swimming app to go global. The app encourages more participation by providing a local search and live timetables so users can find where their nearest favourite swimming activity is taking place. The top five countries, by page views, is UK, USA, China, Spain and Poland.

Users access search and live timetables over 3m times every month which equates to 4m swimmers, 9m sessions and 27m total page views (68% from mobiles). So, finding out where the nearest lane swimming is available or where a mums and toddler’s session is taking place, is now at the touch of a button.

Live timetables are currently being used by over 500 swimming pool sites in the UK and Ireland and through some new technology and APIs these timetables can be viewed on the pool website, on the app, on screens in reception and via voice phone service. At home, users can even create their own weekly timetable and print it. Expansion of the API service is being rolled out to all English speaking countries and the number of page views are expected to double in 2017.

SwimIO is provided by Active in Time (AiT) originally based at Google Campus, near London’s silicon roundabout and the founder, Dan Morgan created it out of frustration of not being able to find pool space for his water polo club. Dan took on the task of bringing swimming pool marketing from the 1990’s to the present day, linking new technology and water together for the first time. Dan says, ‘it’s cool that around one third of public pools in the UK have been early adopters of the technology which provides a seamless digital gateway of choice to the consumer.’

AiT plans to integrate its live timetable APIs to new services to be launched in the UK soon including, Reserve with Google, Facebook Calendar, Amazon Alexa and Yell who are all looking to add local search, linked to live timetable APIs, plus transaction. These granular, on-demand searches, essential for today’s consumer, are due to explode in 2017 and AiT are ready to integrate all local pool providers with these new services.

Editors Notes

‘Swimmer Dan Morgan’ the founder, created the app in his bedroom in 2011 and now swimmers have recorded over 3m swims, clocking up over 4 billion meters, that’s the equivalent of 100 times around the world. In June 2015 Dan put the first swimming app on the Apple Watch and before that the Pebble Watch. Dan’s aim has always been to put swimmers on equal terms with runners and cyclists in the world of wearables and software and SwimIO is the first app to integrate with popular running and cycling apps along with Apple’s HealthKit so workouts can be logged.

Active in Time (AiT) is the sister company of LeisureDB


Founder, Dan Morgan 07894 998333

Operator Software, Jamie Buck 07887 768312

Leisure Industry Events

Active Net

On 29-30th March, Natalie and David attend ActiveNet's annual event in Nottingham.

David presented a breakout session discussing "fitness with no boundaries" and how technology will impact the future of our industry.

Meanwhile, Natalie networked as part of the supplier-buyer sessions. 

David discussing how technology is changing the future of the fitness industry and how each gym operator needs to adapt - #ActiveNet2017

David discussing how technology is changing the future of the fitness industry and how each gym operator needs to adapt - #ActiveNet2017

"If restaurants have no seats, cars have no drivers, deliveries have no couriers, then fitness will have no boundaries" - David Minton, #ActiveNet2017

"If restaurants have no seats, cars have no drivers, deliveries have no couriers, then fitness will have no boundaries" - David Minton, #ActiveNet2017



Later that week, David presented at the BUCS Sport Health, Fitness & Physical Activity Network event again discussing the impact of technology witihin the leisure industry. 


Tech Will Shape Our Industry

Gerald Ratner, in 1991, achieved notoriety in the UK after making a speech in which he jokingly denigrated two of the jewellery products sold by his company. The so called ‘Ratner Effect’ caused the company’s near collapse. In the USA the hashtag #DeleteUber started trending in January and so far, 2017 for Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, it’s been annus horribilis. Although Kalanick has stepped down from Trump’s advisory council, prompting another mea culpa, the embattled ride hailing company is still surrounded by controversy.  Uber’s troubles have resulted in market share gains for Lyft, it’s main competitor, according to TXN Solutions which tracks debit and credit spending. Uber spend across the US has declined since January by 2% while Lyft has jumped 30% on average. In Uber’s home city, San Francisco, spend was down 8% while Lyft jumped 24%.

For IHRSA attendees in Los Angeles the ride hailing service Lyft became the de facto service and for those with ApplePay, a Lyft (get it?) was just a finger touch away…how simple and intuitive. Lyft’s use of the latest technology provides a seamless digital gateway of choice and many lessons for the fitness industry.  Consumers are in control and brands need to stop interrupting with bad technology and trying to sell unwanted products or services and instead start having smart conversations and start listening. Lyft has that conversation and is listening after every ride and if it wasn’t perfect, how could it have been better. When did you receive a request to rate your instructor, the class, the PT, the club even. For me? Never. Those fitness brands who offer transparency of pricing are growing faster than ever and the same brands are open about the good, and maybe not so good, conversations they are having with their customers but they listen and respond. Peer reviews of the workout, instructors and the all-important experience keeps everyone on their toes. 

At the Networking Roundtable chaired by Bryan O’Rourke, operators degraded the heritage CRM systems that the industry is suffering under. So, will traditional CRM systems be dead in 5 years time? Probably. Some heavy competition is being tested in California. Reserve with Google, gives deeper booking integration so local search, which relies on live timetable APIs, becomes more transactional. Previously booking buttons would link away to a third party provider but now its deeply integrated. Mindbody, Full Slate, Front Desk, Appointy are all currently live on Reserve with Google and ZingFit, MyTime and Genbook are coming soon. Only Mindbody were demonstrating this integration at IHRSA but hopefully all will be there next year in San Diego. More competition is coming from Facebook who have recently added local reservations and integrated bookings. Its Events calendar has been turned into a standalone app, allowing groups of friends to book and buy activities together. Airbnb are linking the consumer to a world of fitness experiences which taps Airbnb’s community to offer highly curated opportunities. Even Yelp is accelerating adoption of local listings to include payments and bookings. It won’t be long before Amazon make an announcement in this area, linked to Alexa searches.  All these companies, plus Apple, have fitness teams analysing the industry and how they can disrupt it, search and bookings is an obvious one.

Reserve with Google was live in LA so IHRSA delegates could logon to experience the granular search, from APIs of live timetables, linked to seamless integrated booking. Reserve puts the consumer at the centre of the search and through Artificial Intelligence (AI), constantly learning what type of class or activity you like, will deliver your personalised push notifications that addresses the question of which class, where and what time before you’ve thought of it. Those poised to take advantage of this new era are the boutiques, fitness without boundaries, community activities and meet-ups. In the UK public sector sites and trusts have been early adopters of live timetables and APIs, concretely demonstrating the value of digital. For those of you who are still using Pdf’s, and heaven forbid, a Pdf on an app, then help is at hand.  AiT (Active in Time) a UK start-up company provide the free software and for a small monthly charge APIs for those who want to be part of the digital revolution. Over 500 sites in the UK and Ireland are now live and pushing digital innovation.  AiT offers to integrate your live timetables into these new search and booking services as they become available in the UK.

IHRSA is known for its roundtables, as mentioned above, and keynotes. Soraya Darabi, a Young Global Leader of World Economic Forum said we can’t create emotional attachment if we stand for nothing. So Lyft drivers stand for great service, good value and working for a company they admire. From Soraya’s experience at her local gym in Brooklyn she wonders if the fitness industry, which has the potential, will ever develop the same emotional attachment. Martin Lindstrom, a brand futurist, suggested ‘living with the client’ or listening to the consumer because how many fitness sites have anything more than a feedback form? Lindstrom used the supermarket Lowes to show how it was ‘small data’ that helped turn around a failing brand, not big data. Lowes relaunch has some fun elements but Jonny Earle, alias Jonny Cupcakes was off the wall. He created a brand and inspired customer loyalty from shops that don’t sell cupcakes but t-shirts. My favourite was the breakfast t-shirt which you could only buy between 7-11am.

The 21st annual IHRSA financial panel moderated by Rick Caro emphasized that detailed knowledge of the industry is limited even when big investments are being made. l hope Rick will come to London in October for IHRSA Europe and put a panel of UK investors together who have access to the most detailed data on the industry thanks to LeisureDB. LeisureDB will be presenting in October its data analysis platform and the historical trends from its annual State of the UK Fitness Industry Report and live monitoring of the industry from its Social Media Fitness Index.

Historically prospectors in the Californian gold rush needed a shovel and a sieve, now influencers do the spade work for you. ‘Cycologists’ create 45 minute experiences you want to pay $30 for and who ignite avid followers. I’m following Shannon at Aura on Third,  and Nick at Cycle House on Melrose, are you following?

- David Minton, Director of LeisureDB - IHRSA 2017

Social Media Tips from Industry Leader

In this month's Health Club Management (Issue 3, 2017, pg.61-62), the social media manager at Xercise4Less discussed what lead them to win our Social Media Fitness Index Q2, Q3 & Q4 2016 reports. 

Xercise4Less consistently posts about the success of its members on its various social media channels...

Xercise4Less consistently posts about the success of its members on its various social media channels...


Joe Hall writes...

"We live in an era where people can turn themselves into a squeaky talking fox on Snapchat, or hit an ‘angry’ button at a piece of news content on Facebook. In fact, the nature of what you can do has become so varied that the whole concept of ‘social media’ – what exactly this now is – becomes quite hard to define.

I’d consider social media to be a mass get-together which no longer takes place in the park or in the pub, but in a Millennial third space: online. There might not be a see-saw or a pint of Tetley’s Smooth Flow in sight, but humans interact in this digital social media space in much the same way as they do offline in the local park or pub. That’s a result of psychological traits and human instinct.

But social media goes one step further: it amplifies human behaviour. It cuts out the routine, unexciting, dreary, monotonous matters that happen in the real world and just gives us the more dramatic, action-packed, high-end pleasure or high-end pain experiences.

As marketing decision-makers, we need to respect that the end consumer on social media is out for the thrills and spills. They’re certainly not scrolling through Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat to bask in any dullness or absorb meaningless promotional waffle.

At Xercise4Less, it’s my duty to ensure our social media appeals to our audience’s wants and needs. I’ve outlined four ways in which we do this.

  1. Deliver emotional conten
  2. Contests and gift
  3. A sense of belongin
  4. Post for your audience

Even when Xercise4Less was nominated for the Best Use of Social Media by the Leisure Database Company, we ensured the announcement was very much all about our members.

What lies ahead for the world of social media?
...Human behaviour and psychological traits should always be at the heart of any social media and marketing strategy". 

Original source: Health Club Management