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UKACTIVE UPDATE THE HEALTH ‘MEGA-TREND’


VANGUARD


David Stalker, CEO of ukactive, explains how the nation’s declining


health is attracting investors back into the fitness sector


T


he last 20 years haven’t quite lived up to expectations when it comes to investment into our sector.


Yet it seems this investment hiatus


is coming to an end, with notable recent transactions including those of Fitness First, Pure Gym, Te Gym Group and David Lloyd Leisure. With these transactions in mind, ukactive – along with the global financial advisory institution Rothschild – recently hosted a unique event that brought together members of the Vanguard Group with a number of private equity and venture capitalist organisations. Te event looked at why investors


have recently been attracted back to our sector, and the potential the sector holds for growth. Oren Peleg, MD at Oaktree Capital Management, was just one of the experts who identified how a series of ‘mega-trends’ were creating unique opportunities for physical activity provision: the most notable mega-trend being the decline of the nation’s health and the activity sector’s opportunity to provide a solution for this issue.


An emerging role As I said at this year’s Leisure Industry Week, if our sector is to grow, we must move away from a solely fitness solution towards delivering health outcomes. Trough a mix of technological


advancement, changes in behaviour and modern lifestyles, we’ve witnessed a drastic decline of more than 35 per cent in physical activity levels. Sedentary lifestyles go hand-in-hand with obesity, and we’re now at a point where there are more deaths globally from obesity than from malnutrition. I’m not being flippant when I say this


could bankrupt the NHS: it’s impossible to continue paying out huge sums due to the health problems linked with inactive lifestyles. Reports say the NHS will be bankrupt by 2050 if trends continue.


UK NEWShealth club


Public Affairs Media Partner management


Investors are now looking at the fitness sector as a valuable potential solution to the nation’s health issues And this is where our sector comes


in, and why investors are looking at us: we have the potential to be a leading vehicle in helping get the nation active and healthy, with physical activity proven to reduce the risk of developing over 20 chronic diseases, improve quality of life and even aid rehabilitation from injury. Investors are also looking at our


sector because of the changes that have been made to the health system, with an emphasis on local commissioning of local delivery for local needs. A new executive agency now exists – Public Health England – with a remit ranging from protecting and improving the nation’s health to building the public health system. It’s also the first time public health funding has ever been ring-fenced in the UK, giving clinicians much more responsibility for spending the £80m budget in England.


Proving our worth Our local communities need our services, as do the NHS and local authority public health. We now have a route in. However, we can’t simply assume government and health will naturally come to our sector: we have to adapt and change towards a health delivery focus to be considered a worthy partner.


26 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital Regarding the public health agenda, we


must start by establishing the true impact we’re making, and can make, on the nation’s health. We must provide evidence that competes with existing health service providers. Te ukactive Research Institute at the Universities of Greenwich and Aberystwyth is a body to take on this challenge, and is leading the largest study of its kind into the impact of physical activity in prevention, management and treatment of chronic diseases. We must also must look at the skills


of our professionals, at our facilities, and at the outcomes we collect on a daily basis. Te investment community is now paying attention due to national trends like obesity. We also know our sector will only grow if we actively capitalise on such trends and opportunities. If we do this, investors will continue to stand up, pay attention, and investment will flow.


FOR MORE INFORMATION


If you would like more information on ukactive’s public affairs and policy work, please contact Stephen Wilson, director of public affairs and policy: stephenwilson@ukactive.org.uk


November/December 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


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