Gyms and Fitness Centers Market Research: Traditional gyms are getting the runaround from new low-cost rivals

After almost a decade of expansion, the Gyms and Fitness Centres industry is beginning to slow down. Driven by rising disposable income levels, increasing health-consciousness and concerns about appearance, gyms and health clubs have signed up over 8.7 million gym members across the United Kingdom; about 17% of the adult population. Over the five years to 2010-11, industry revenue is forecast to increase by 3.0% per annum to total £706.5 million in total. The industry is undergoing some consolidation as it matures, with major companies undertaking several mergers and acquisitions in recent years. The entry of new low-cost gyms such as Fitspace poses a threat to existing gyms, which already operate in a highly-competitive environment.

Britons are now more aware than ever before about the benefits of regular exercise, but this has not been reflected in higher attendances at the gym. Following several years of expansion from 2005-06 to 2008-09, growth of the Gyms and Fitness Centres industry began to slow as the recession caused a fall in discretionary spending on recreation. Gym-goers are looking for value from their memberships, with many trading down from premium health clubs to more basic and inexpensive fitness options. For some, this means switching to a cheaper plan or fitness club once membership renewal comes up; others cancel the gym membership altogether.

Growing tired of the same gym routine, consumers are also looking for alternative ways to get fit by taking up running; joining yoga and pilates studios; and attending personal training and boot camp sessions conducted outdoors. Boot camp programs have enjoyed strong popularity and growth over the last five years, with organisations such as British Military Fitness training up to 13,000 members in parks across the United Kingdom. Personal training services have also become a popular alternative to traditional gym workouts. The Gyms and Fitness Centres industry covers all revenue earned by gyms and health and fitness clubs, which includes personal training services offered through a gym but not the revenue earned by independent personal trainers. Consequently, gyms are losing some market share to these alternative recreation options. The range of services and memberships offered by the industry has increased over the past five years as operators have sought to carve out their own market niche. Competition within the industry is strong, and fitness clubs must establish a viable model and a clear market position in order to survive. Industry revenue is forecast to increase by 3.0% per annum over the five years to total £706.5 million in 2010-11.

Profits have fallen in the last two years, as weaker economic conditions forced gyms to discount their services in order to maintain membership numbers. There are also signs that gyms are losing their appeal, as a range of alternative fitness options emerge such as personal training and boot camps. Looking to the future, demand for gyms and health clubs will be underpinned by growing concerns about health amid rising levels of obesity in the population. Revenue is forecast to rise by an average annualised rate of 3.8% over the five years to 2015-16, totalling £848 million.