Thursday, May 30, 2024

The Gym Group Eyes Expansion as UK Fitness Market Heats Up

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Similar to the States, the United Kingdom is experiencing a post-pandemic fitness boom, with low-price gyms seeing the biggest surge

Value gyms may be a hit in the U.S. and Canada, but demand is also increasing across the pond. 

The Gym Group, a high-value, low-price (HVLP) gym operator in the U.K., just reported solid revenue growth of 18% in 2023, adding 850,000 members and opening six new gyms. The fitness brand, which was founded in 2007, says it plans to open 10-12 locations this year.

The fitness operator was recently declared one of the winners of the U.K.’s post-pandemic fitness industry boom for its accelerated growth from 32 locations in 2012 to its current 233 gyms.

“We have maintained positive momentum in revenue through the second half to deliver results that have offset cost inflation, in line with our guidance,” said CEO Will Orr. “With a strong start to 2024 and clear signs that demand for health and fitness has never been stronger, these are solid foundations on which to build our Next Chapter growth plan.”

Over the next three years, Orr says The Gym Group will accelerate “site rollout” and strengthen the performance of its core business. 

“There continues to be substantial headroom for low-cost gyms in the U.K., and we are fully focused on our aim of making high-value, low-cost fitness even more accessible for all,” he continued.

The Gym Group group offers gymgoers 24/7 access with contract-free memberships starting at £13.99/month. The gym offers fitness equipment and a variety of free fitness classes, including small group training, strength and conditioning, mind and body and cardio. Personal trainers are also available to create custom plans.

Like other low-price gyms such as Planet Fitness and Crunch, The Gym Group strives to cater to younger fitness consumers, welcoming members who are at least 16 years old and providing special discounts to college students.

Its approach appears to be working, with The Gym Group reporting that 92% of its members rated the brand four out of five and that more than 60 million member visits were made in 2023, with average visits increasing by 10% over the previous year.

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The fitness club attributes the emergence of the HVLP gym market to “harsh economic times,” an increasingly competitive market and consumer demand for value. According to a factsheet on The Gym Group’s website, member surveys reveal that the club operator is attracting new fitness enthusiasts such as shift workers, students, retirees and those classified as low-income.

As The Gym Group plots its continued expansion, global gym franchise Anytime Fitness has also made headway in the U.K. with new gym openings, capitalizing on six vacant retail units — one of which was a former post office — in Loughton, Upminster, Brentwood, Leigh-on-Sea, Gerrards Cross and Wimbledon.

Although generally at a slightly higher membership price point than The Gym Group, Anytime Fitness sees the demand for fitness clubs in the U.K. and, at the same time, has been able to revive vacant spaces. 

“These new gyms have shown the ability of our sector to take on these high-footfall locations and give them a new lease of life as a facility that the local community can be proud of,” said Kieran Smith, senior property and relationships manager at Anytime Fitness U.K. “Despite the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, the demand for gym memberships hasn’t waned and this is being increasingly recognized by commercial landlords.”

PureGym, another U.K.-based gym brand, is taking a different approach and plans to bolster its presence in the U.S. and Canada under the Pure Fitness name, competing with the likes of stateside low-price, high-value fitness brands. Much like The Gym Group, the brand offers flexible 24/7 operating hours and a zero-contract membership model. 

Courtney Rehfeldt has worked in the broadcasting media industry since 2007 and has freelanced since 2012. Her work has been featured in Age of Awareness, Times Beacon Record, The New York Times, and she has an upcoming piece in Slate. She studied yoga & meditation under Beryl Bender Birch at The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute. She enjoys hiking, being outdoors, and is an avid reader. Courtney has a BA in Media & Communications studies.

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