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.
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.
William Shakespeare famously said: “We know what we are, but know not what we may be”. Eloquently spoken personal trainers often recite this quote as their opening line – and I could make the same observation when asked, time and time again: “How big can the fitness industry grow?”
Like all business, timing is everything and this year we have seen more innovation than ever before. This has continued to drive the growth in the industry for the fourth year in a row; as detailed in the State of the Fitness Industry Report 2016 published by The Leisure Database Company. Highlights from the last year, include, the joint public and private penetration rate rising from 13.7% to 14.3%, the total number of fitness sites growing from 6,312 to 6,435 and the number of members jumping from 8.8m to 9.2m, the first time the industry has over 9m members. All of these contributing to the overall market value climbing from £4.3bn to £4.4bn in 2016.
Although, the disruptive business models of the so called ‘low cost’ brands are primarily responsible for driving the growth, it is not having an adverse effect on the overall value of the industry. Many brands have found the strength of the market allows them to charge above the publicity grabbing low-cost teens. These low cost brands are now responsible for around one third of all private fitness memberships. Whilst, the average monthly membership price has firmed from £18.23 in 2015 to £18.77 in 2016, reflecting the strength in latent demand for fitness across these sites. These first movers, which benefit from scale and new innovative in-house systems, which enable hour to hour and day to day management of the business, has allowed this sector to grow to over 450 sites with around 2m members in a very short period of time. The low cost sector saw a huge 41% increase in the number of clubs in the last twelve months and the clubs now have an average membership of 4,118. Immediate data science and enterprise security software are key to further growth.
In the six months since the publication of the 2016 Report, some major changes have taken place which are worth mentioning. Although Pure Gym, who have already opened another 17 clubs, remain at the top of the fitness operator leader board by number of sites (169), there’s a new number two. Following a buying spree, which included mostly Virgin Active clubs, Nuffield Fitness and Wellbeing Gyms have jumped from 5th to 2nd place with 112 clubs. They have gained 35 clubs and over 120,000 new members. Both, The Gym and David Lloyd Leisure, are in joint 4th spot; both have 82 sites and similar membership numbers. The franchise sector is having its best year so far; Anytime Fitness have opened 22 new clubs, taking their total to 91, Energie Fitness and their low cost brand Fit4Less have jumped to seventh place with 76 clubs and Snap Fitness has added 6 clubs to take them to 14.
Moving onto the public sector, there are 2,735 fitness sites, that collectively have over 3.3m fitness members and an estimated similar number on pay as you go. 41% are now managed by a trust.
For the third year running, the top three public operators by number of gyms remain with GLL, SLM and PfP. Freedom Leisure and Fusion are the only operators to move up the top 10 rankings in the last year, Fusion jumped to 4th and Freedom to 6th position.
For only the second time in 6 years, the number of closures across the public sector this year were higher than the number of openings. With 49 new gyms opening and 65 closing there was a net loss of 16 fitness sites. However, these sites were characterised as smaller gyms (24% less than the average), with fewer members, (27% less than average) and fewer facilities. So without investment they were never realistically going to compete.
In the past six months, we have also experienced the Pokemon Go fever, which overnight eclipsed social media platforms. The game achieved a higher number of daily users and longer time periods spent in the app than on WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Whilst I’m sure it didn’t set out to make more people more active, in just a few weeks it did. Well it was fun while it lasted and the latest data shows the craze is waning, but there are lessons for the fitness industry, people will take part in more activity if it’s fun, engaging and different, rather than dreary and repetitive. Time to think outside the box!
It’s a fast changing world and social media remains a difficult area for fitness brands to achieve both followers and then quality engagement. Amongst the top 20 private brands, Facebook is the most popular platform, with the number of ‘likes’ at just over 1m. Twitter is in second place with just over 275,000 followers across the top brands. The highly engaging Instagram has only 68,000 followers and still only half of the top twenty brands have a presence, shame on you. Checkout who’s doing well with some great screen shot examples in the Social Media Fitness Index Q3 Report.
It’s no coincidence, that the top four active wear brands, Nike+ Running, Under Armour Record, Adidas Train & Run, and Puma’s Pumatrac are all building fitness communities through activity tracking. Fitness industry brands could grow as quickly if they took advantage of the opportunities to connect with their consumers through repeat check-ins for classes, challenges, guest passes and push notifications. One day, my personalised push notification will come.
David Minton - Health Club Management Handbook 2017, page 72.
In this weeks 60 Second News: Leisure Management reported this week that on the 25th June Barry’s Bootcamp will be taking over the London Eye. The boutique chain which has two sites in London will deliver 15 classes simultaneously in 15 pods on the London Eye. It costs £60 to take part and all proceeds will go to Stand Up To Cancer.
Last weekend saw the opening of Thorncliffe Health and Leisure Centre in Sheffield, which is managed by Places for People. The centre boasts two pools, a gym and two studios and was built to replace Chapeltown Baths.
This week has also seen two new openings from the Anytime Fitness franchise in Corby and Luton.
Lastly, Blink Fitness in America has decided to cover all their mirrors for the month of June. The mirrors have been replaced with signs saying ‘Do it for the mood, not just the mirror’. The aim of the campaign is to remind members exercise is about more than just looks. BlinkFitness Vice president, Ellen Rogemann, is hoping the brand can provide an antidote to the ‘beach body ready’ message. Let us know what you think of this idea by sending a tweet to @TLDC_UK.
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Twitter is live. Twitter is real-time. Twitter is about who and what you follow.
Twitter is an ideal platform for brands but the fitness industry has a lot of catching up to do. The industry has 9.2 million fitness members (according to The Leisure Database Company’s 2016 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report) but across the top 20 private fitness brands it can only boast 248k followers on Twitter.
So who needs Twitter? The fitness industry!
In this weeks 60 Second News; today sees the launch of our first ever LeisureDB Social Media Fitness Index. The report covers quarter 1 of 2016 and compares the UK's top 20 private fitness brands and ranks them based on their performance on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. You can download your copy of the report from our website now for £195 + VAT.
SLM or Everyone Active as they’re better known was announced this week as the new management of Westminster Sports Centre from the 1st July 2016. The 10 year contract will see SLM manage 8 leisure centres.
Frome Sports and Fitness Centre, which is managed by Fusion, opened its doors on Wednesday following their £2million refurbishment. The centre boasts new gym equipment, a large soft play area, new classes in their two new studios and a dedicated cycling studio.
Lastly, we would just like to say congratulations to The Gym Group who have been awarded the Investors in People Gold Accreditation, which is currently achieved by just 7% of organisations.
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In this weeks 60 Second News: our 2016 State of The UK Fitness Industry Report was released this week and we want to say a big thank you to everyone who has mentioned us in the news or on Twitter. Remember to keep an eye on our Director, David Minton’s, LinkedIn page to join in topical discussions about this year’s report.
Coming soon from 1Rebel is their new offering Ride2Rebel. 1Rebel have converted a bus into a mobile spin studio and will be offering customers the chance to spin hard through the streets of London, whilst commuting to work. The bus will pick up from 4 different locations across London and drop off at 1Rebel. You can sign up now to register an interest in a ticket and receive a 10% discount on packages.
It’s been announced this week that the construction contract for the new Fleming Park leisure centre in Eastleigh has gone to Interserve. The new centre will boast a 15 court sports hall, 2 swimming pools and 3 multipurpose studios and is due to open June 2018.
Lastly, Sports Management reported this week that public health experts have called it unethical to sell junk food in leisure centres. I know I think it’s ok to reward all my hard work with a Mars bar post workout, but psychologist have claimed that leisure centres are failing exercise referral patients by not offering healthy food as a primary option and at a cheaper price. Let us know what you think, send us a tweet @TLDC_UK.
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In this weeks 60 second news: it was reported that Pure Gym’s membership figures have risen by over 50% since they took over the LA Fitness clubs last year. From this Monday, 16th May you’ll be able to see how this compares with the rest of the market when we release the 2016 State of The UK Fitness Industry Report. For more information on what’s covered in this year’s report look out for our press release or head to leisuredb.com.
On Wednesday Sweat Coin was released into the UK Apple App Store. The app converting exercise to a digital currency known as ‘sweatcoins’ which can exchange steps for rewards or even charity donations. Although we haven’t been blown away by the app we do think it has potential.
Lastly, FitGroupUK, a new body consisting of group exercise opinion leaders has been brought together with the ultimate aim of introducing more people to group exercise, given that participation figures plateaued in recent years. Here at LeisureDB we want to know what is your favourite group exercise class and why? Tweet us @TLDC_UK to join the conversation.
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