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The Olympic Effect


‘Our Greatest Team’ certainly lived up to its billing at what proved to be a truly remarkable Olympics for Team GB, paving the way – dare we say it – for Britain to become the first ever host nation to witness an uplift in participation off the back of the Games. Coming third on the medal table with a total of 29 golds, 17


silvers and 19 bronzes, Team GB has inspired us all. And it’s done so with supreme performances not only in the ‘sitting-down sports’ in which we’re famed to excel – cycling, rowing, sailing, equestrian – but also in track and field, triathlon, tennis, gymnastics, boxing. We’ve found new heroes in the likes of gold medal-winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis and long-distance runner Mo Farah, who have entered GB sport’s Hall of Fame alongside the likes of Chris Hoy, Ben Ainslie, Steve Redgrave, Kelly Holmes. Put simply, we have a host of new role models and a far wider variety of sports that Brits now believe ‘we can do’. And it all happened here, close enough for us to touch, to feel the buzz of excitement, in a time zone


where we could enjoy every golden moment. And somehow that proximity has combined with Team GB’s success story to make stepping into sport and activity feel more achievable: even before the Games were over, the media was reporting a massive surge in interest at sports clubs as diverse as rowing, gymnastics and volleyball. That’s great for leisure centres, many of


Gyms will need to be creative, actively marketing to new motivations among members and prospects, but the opportunity is there to tap into the UK’s new-found enthusiasm for physical excellence


which already have a strong sports offering. But what does it mean for the high street gym, which might see itself as one step removed from an immediate post-Olympic boom? Tapping into the nation’s current sporting


enthusiasm could come in many guises. Some sports can be offered out of gyms, from running clubs to triathlon (see HCM Jan 12,


p50); the Brownlee brothers’ gold and bronze medals represent a great opportunity to build on the already high levels of public interest in triathlon. One notch down, sport-specific training programmes could be offered for those who are either venturing into a new sport or else hoping to take the next step in an existing sporting hobby: one need look no further than Team GB’s domination of the velodrome to find inspiration for peak performance group cycling sessions in gyms, for example. And then there are the marketing-based opportunities which are open to all operators, as they


simply require innovation in the way existing services are packaged and spoken about. Whether that’s reaching out to people who want ‘abs like Ennis’ or creating heptathlon-themed functional group training formats, gyms can create programmes and classes that harness the post-Olympic buzz. The delivery of a long-term legacy will remain a challenge, and must encompass everything from school


sports policy to skills development in the fitness sector. Seb Coe has also accepted a new role as Olympic legacy ambassador; gyms may be able to gain the support of his team in creating a physical activity legacy. Nevertheless, there’s an opportunity to be seized right now while interest is fresh. For operators directly offering sport, that’s likely to mean additional capacity, catering for the influx with no waiting lists. Gyms will need to be more creative, actively marketing to new motivations among members and prospects, but the opportunity is still there to tap into the UK’s new-found enthusiasm for physical excellence.


Kate Cracknell, editor – katecracknell@leisuremedia.com / twitter: @HealthClubKate To share your thoughts on this topic, visit www.healthclubmanagement.co.uk/blog


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