Fifth birthday for the park

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London is celebrating it's fifth anniversary this month (April 2019) since re-opening to the public in April 2014. This birthday month provides a timely opportunity to revisit the legacy of the wider concept of creating a dynamic new metropolitan centre for London and develop a place where people can live, work, play and visit.

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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! 

Fitness Predictions for 2016

David Minton, Director of LeisureDB, is a widely sought after mentor and consultant for a range of health and fitness organisations with his extensive industry knowledge and here are his top 10 predictions for 2016.

1.       The number of people who are overweight will continue to rise. An opportunity for the industry to provide an alternative to the harmful fat, sugar and salt consumed by the majority?

2.       British Heart Foundation research found 75% of Brits are unaware of the recommended minimum amount of physical activity. Current guidelines are too complicated so nothing will change in 2016.     

3.       Following the successful Initial Public Offering by The Gym Group last November, London Stock Exchange share price is 234, up from initial offering of 189. Very good news for the industry and a second IPO should follow in 2016.

4.       In 2016 the top two fitness brands by number of sites will be Pure Gym and, in the public sector GLL’s Better. 

5.    Low cost brands will take 30% of the private sector membership, up from 24%.

6.       2016 will be the year of aggregators, bloggers, unboxing channels, trackers, wearables and an app for everything that targets the fitness consumer. Woe betide any brand that doesn’t react.

7.       Real-time transparent data on timetables, bookings and smooth payments will be king in 2016. Pdf’s, telephone bookings and credit cards are dead or dying.

8.       Any brand that does not use social media as its main form of communication with the consumer will lose market share. Watch out for the launch of LeisureDB’s Social Media Index in 2016. 

9.       Brazil will have the host nation advantage at this year’s summer Olympics and so should jump from 22nd in the medal table in 2012 to ……. 12th!? Best of luck to all the athletes.

10.   And it’s good bye to LA Fitness, a once great brand who never really recovered from the social media nightmare in 2012.