A growing consumer appetite for fitness and a hive of investment activity within the health club sector could see the value of the UK fitness sector increase by £1.1bn in 2016.
The Rise of the Activity Sector
report, published today (18 October) by non-profit health body ukactive, predicts a 17 per cent increase in the value of the gym sector during 2016, reaching a total market value of £7.7bn by the end of the year.
Valuation specialist Mazars and sponsorship experts Nielsen Sports conducted analyses for the report, which underlines the “latent potential in the fitness market” and points to strong consumer demand as evidence that the sector won't be “thrown off course by the choppy waters of Brexit”.
The entry of low-cost club operator The Gym Group onto the London Stock Exchange is seen as a sign that investors are becoming “enticed by the sector’s strong growth prospects”.
The report ranks Britain’s gym market as the largest in Europe and predicts the sector will be among the ‘shining stars’ of the UK’s post-Brexit economy – partly due to British firms accounting for six of the 19 mergers and acquisitions to take place in the European fitness market during 2015.
Nick Bishop, managing director, Morgan Stanley, Head of Leisure EMEA, said: “As we can see from the flurry of recent investment activity, there is significant investor interest in the physical activity sector, driven by strong growth prospects.
“For now the focus in the UK has been mainly on the low cost segment, the growth of which has been driven by existing fitness members seeking value and new fitness members attracted by the low entry price.
“Exercise has a major role to play in the health agenda and the sustained increases in gym memberships since 2008 and the sector's relative resilience following that turbulent period shows that it is becoming increasingly ingrained as a positive habit in the lives of UK consumers.”
As well as investor interest, the report also highlights the development of new technologies as a key growth driver for the sector.
“One of the big drivers of gym sector growth in recent years has been the boom in fitness-focused technology, with giants such as Apple, Microsoft and Google helping to fuel the rise of the ‘quantified Self’” the report states.
“New products, such as fitness apps and wearable technology, have enhanced the consumer fitness experience, fostering greater engagement and helping to increase gym retention rates.”
Steven Ward, executive director of ukactive, added: "Britain is waking up to the benefits of physical activity and eagle-eyed investors have been quick to spot the sector's potential.
"This report is the first to highlight the true economic value of the health and fitness sector and show that the UK's gyms are very much open for business.
"Having boosted memberships throughout the recession, we expect gyms to be among the shining stars of Britain's post-Brexit economy, driving substantial business growth while keeping the national healthy, happy and productive."
To download a copy of the report, visit the ukactive website by clicking here