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RESEARCH ROUND-UP


as you go opportunities, it’s the disruptive nature of hi-tech start-ups like payasUgym. com, which will have around 2,000 sites by the end of 2013, that’s expanding the traditional concept to a wider audience. If the current trends continue, the public


Budget chains like Pure Gym (this image) and The Gym (above right) are driving growth


this growth comes at a price, as the low- cost operators are having an impact on both average monthly fees and yield per member across the industry. It’s also worth noting that some places, like the City of Nottingham, have seen low-cost closures where the local demographics could not support yet another late entrant into the budget market.


Public sector strength 2013 will also be known as the year that sleeping giant, the public sector market, was fi rst truly quantifi ed since CCT (Compulsory Competitive Tendering) was introduced, with numbers being made available not only for direct debit members but also pay as you go users. Trusts and public sector sites have


led the way in publishing, for the fi rst time, the number of visitors to


62 Health Club Handbook 2014


their sites, many of whom are not fi tness members at present; the upsell opportunities are enormous. GLL manages 110 sport and fi tness sites


and received 38 million visits in 2012. If this fi gure grows at the anticipated 2 per cent each year, it will reach 40 million by 2015. Fusion Lifestyle received over 11 million visits, while I estimate that the YMCA, one of the largest voluntary sector providers, had over 24 million visits across its 88 sites. SLM had 20 million visits in 2012, while DC Leisure had more than 24 million actual customer transactions. And that just covers a few of the bigger operators. Last year, the public sector as a whole


had almost 3.2 million direct debit fi tness members, with an unspecifi ed number of casual and pay as you go visits. Although all public sites have a history of providing pay


fi tness sector may one day be larger than the private sector. In the public sector category I now include, for example, Nuffi eld with 65 consumer fi tness and wellbeing centres and 200 corporate sites, owned by Nuffi eld Health, one of the oldest social enterprises. Meanwhile DC Leisure, with over 80 sites, is now owned by Places for People, a housing association whose aim is to create and transform neighbourhoods into vibrant places.


The good and the bad One ongoing piece of bad news is that no-one can quantify how often and for how long the UK’s almost 8 million gym members work out. Such data is vital to our future success. Weight Watchers is a case in point: NICE’s 2006 guidance on obesity noted that it was the only commercial slimming programme with good quality data underpinning its effectiveness; it now receives around £4m from the NHS to help overweight patients.


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