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Number of UK gyms falls, but memberships and revenues are up

The results of the State of the Fitness Industry Report were revealed at this week's Evolve event (Image: Leisure DB)

The UK has fewer gyms in 2023 than in 2022, but member numbers are up and market value has reached an all-time high.

The insight comes from the State of the UK Fitness Industry Report 2023, unveiled this week by market intelligence expert Leisure DB.

As the UK market continues to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic, member numbers are up 3.9 per cent versus 2022 – this in spite of a 0.9 per cent fall in total club numbers. Penetration rates are also recovering, with 15.1 per cent of the UK population now a member of a gym: 10.2 per cent are members of private health clubs, while the public sector has a 4.9 per cent penetration rate. Falling short of pre-COVID highs, nonetheless both figures are now moving in the right direction.

Meanwhile, the upward trajectory in market value – +11.5 per cent since the 2022 report – is being driven by rising average membership fees. This trend has seen some brands move out of the low-cost bracket altogether, leading this market segment to shrink for the first time since it emerged in 2011.

David Minton, Leisure DB founder, industry analyst and commentator, said: “Always a keystone report for the sector, this year our flagship State of the UK Fitness Industry Report makes for particularly fascinating reading. We’re seeing a newly honed fitness sector emerge from the pandemic, leaner yet arguably stronger and more resilient.

“The ‘sleepers’ – a long-term embarrassment for our sector – are now gone, while higher costs have legitimised monthly price rises without impacting member numbers.

“Although the devil is in the detail, let me suggest that the pandemic, inflation and higher energy costs will, in the long term, be seen to be good for the industry.”

The report findings were showcased at Leisure DB’s annual EVOLVE conference, which took place on 7 June at Red Bull HQ in Covent Garden, London.

Unveiled to an exclusive audience of 150 delegates, virtual attendees were also welcomed as speakers discussed the evolution of the human experience, exploring ways in which the fitness sector can continue to meet consumers’ changing needs and expectations post-pandemic.

Initiated by Minton in 2021, EVOLVE was conceived as a year-round platform for conversation, collaboration and change within the UK fitness industry.

“Leveraging Leisure DB’s wealth of market data, EVOLVE connects the industry’s thinkers, disrupters and leaders to stimulate new thinking and promote sector diversification into untapped markets,” he said.

“We were honoured to be joined yesterday by so many thought leaders – including GM Active’s Andy King, human experience expert Keith Smith, Barclays’ leisure and hospitality head Mike Saul and our host Nick Mennell from Pocket Rocket Group– as we explored this year’s data and its implications for the continued evolution of our sector.”

The full State of the Fitness Industry Report 2023 includes full details of club numbers, member counts, growth sectors, average fees, operator rankings, openings and closures and more. It is available for purchase here.

A free Spotlight report, highlighting some of the key stats and trends, is also available and can be downloaded here.

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