Although the facts may seem less relevant now due to the coroavirus pandemic, new numbers – out today in the new European Health & Fitness Market Report 2020
, published by EuropeActive and Deloitte – show the European fitness industry experienced another year of growth during 2019.
The report will be a useful benchmark for analysts when evaluating the impact of the pandemic on the market over the next year.
Total revenues at clubs across the continent reaching €28.2bn in 2019 – up 3.1 per cent on the year before.
The surge in income was driven by an increase in the number of sites and healthy growth in memberships. The number of facilities increased by 2.3 per cent to 63,644 during 2019, while health and fitness club memberships grew by 3.8 per cent to 64.8 million.
In total, the sector welcomed 2.4 million new members during the year.
Germany strengthened its position as the country with the highest number of gym members with 11.7 million, ahead of the UK (10.4 million), France (6.2 million), Italy (5.5 million) and Spain (5.5 million).
In terms of market penetration, Norway and Sweden rank highest with 22 per cent of the total population holding a fitness club membership. Other countries with high fitness club penetration include Denmark (18.9 per cent), the Netherlands (17.4 per cent), Finland (17.2 per cent) and the UK (15.6 per cent).
Overall, 8.1 per cent of the total European population (aged 15 years and older) were health or fitness club members, with a penetration rate of 9.7 per cent.
Merger and acquisition activity continued in 2019, with 17 major M&A transactions in the operator market.
Due to the continued consolidation, the top 30 European fitness club operators now account for 17.2 million members – representing more than a quarter (26.5 per cent) of all memberships.
With 2.22 million members, Basic-Fit became the number one operator in Europe, both in terms of members and clubs, ahead of multi-brand operator RSG Group with 2.05 million members.
Pure Gym (1.35 million), clever fit (950,000), and The Gym Group (794,000) completed the top five operators by size.
The top five European operators in terms of revenues were David Lloyd Leisure (€587m, £517m), Basic-Fit (€515m, £453m), SATS Group (€405m, £356m), Swiss operator Migros Group (€367m, £323m), and RSG Group (€365m, £321m).
According to Herman Rutgers, EuropeActive board member and co-author of the report, the figures show that 2019 was "another year of continued growth for the sector".
"It was good to see above-average growth in the three largest markets," Rutgers said.
"It was also interesting to observe strong growth in franchise concepts in both convenience clubs as well as boutiques. We remain confident to reach the industry goal of 80 million members by 2025.”
Rutgers also addressed the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has already caused unprecedented disruption for the industry during the first months of 2020.
"We know from discussions with leaders in the industry that the first quarter of 2020 had started very well," Rutgers said.
"But in the last weeks, we have started to see the initial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is impacting our sector in an unprecedented way.
"In many countries, health and fitness facilities have been ordered to close temporarily by governments or have closed voluntarily.
"The good news is that our sector has evolved in the digital era and developed many different ways for members beyond the clubs to stay active anywhere and anytime.
"Many operators are experimenting with digital fitness by offering online classes, or are encouraging their members to use the possibilities to exercise at home, taking advantage of the many apps and available online exercise videos.
"We encourage everyone to stay strong and wish you all the very best in these challenging times."
• To access the full report click here to access EuropeActive’s Knowledge Centre