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TALKBACK


Kath Hudson • Journalist • Health Club Management


Predictions for 2015 EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT . . .


As we gear up for 2015, what looks set to drive growth of the sector? What will be the challenges and opportunities over the coming 12 months, and how should we respond?


and both consumer confi dence and the housing market picking up. In the fi tness industry, the low-cost


A “L


sector had another strong year, growing 21 per cent according to the latest Mintel research. But will the improvement in the economy mean the affordable clubs will lose their appeal, with people trading up to more expensive brands? Not at all, according to CEO of The Gym Group John Treharne. “I would expect the market to at least double and for there to be some new entrants in 2015,” he says. “I think – as has happened in other


fter a prolonged recession, 2014 has been brighter for most, with the economy fi nally turning a corner


markets such as airlines, hotels and retail – there will be more growth at the premium end but also significant growth at the low-cost end of the market. “Research shows value for money is


here to stay: people don’t automatically go for a more expensive brand in good economic times.” Another feature of 2014 has been the


growth of boutique clubs – the so-called microgyms – where members pay premium prices for a small, personal, high spec club that focuses on one discipline. Will we see new entrants into this sector? How will the products evolve and will more niches emerge? The obesity crisis has never been far from the news headlines this year.


Despite health club penetration levels nudging up very slightly, the nation – and indeed the world – is getting fatter. Will we start to see some progress with this problem next year, with new ideas brought forward on how to effect behaviour change on a mass scale? Last but defi nitely not least, on the


back of growing consumer interest in wearable technology, the Apple Watch will go on sale in 2015. What impact will such products continue to have on the industry? Will tech-savvy consumers take workouts into their own hands, bypassing the expertise of gyms – and maybe even gyms themselves – or will operators learn to take advantage of the technology? We ask the experts....


WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL HAPPEN IN THE SECTOR NEXT YEAR? EMAIL US: HEALTHCLUB@LEISUREMEDIA.COM


ARRON WILLIAMS Special projects • Life Fitness


ast year we had 13.2 per cent penetration, which was deemed


a good year – but this only represents 1.4 per cent growth since 2007, so the industry is relatively stagnant. The Turning the Tide of Inactivity report vividly highlights the extent of chronic disease and inactivity throughout the UK, which suggests the current model isn’t working and something has to change. The most buoyant section of the market is the boutique gym


sector. This is a very urban trend, but next year we might start to see them expand into the suburbs. So far we’ve identified 23 different types of boutique gym, in the main HIIT-based, highly functional, group exercise-based, social and communal. As this trend evolves, we’re likely to see more developments such as the fitness mall model, or the ‘multiple’ boutique model where health clubs are deconstructed and then reconstructed along the lines of a series of specialised packaged boutique gym offerings. With boutiques offering pay as you go and bulk buy, and low-cost clubs offering no contract memberships, the days of being a 12-month contract prisoner have all but gone. I think club locations will change and, as retail struggles on


the high street, we’ll start to see studios and boutique clubs move in, as is already happening in the US and Asia.





BRYAN O’ROURKE CEO • Integrus


“I


t has been a robust 2014 and I think 2015 will continue in the same


vein. Economic indicators suggest it will be a good year. I think memberships will continue to rise, with more formats, opportunities and content-based programming. Several developed markets will see further consolidation: I


predict a couple of blockbuster transactions in Europe, the US and Asia Pacific. We will see continued growth in India, Asia Pacific, Australia, the US and Eastern Europe, with Poland and Hungary in particular being active. Digital technology will have an impact: there will be a


proliferation of digital competitors related to advancements in wearable technology, apps and smartphone adaptations. This will put pressure on clubs to utilise the technology for payment and engagements. However, although the digital delivery model will grow, there’s no research to suggest this will negatively impact on the bricks and mortar participation. There will be continued growth in niche format models, both


boutiques and low-cost. However, I think we might see some middle-tier players tweak their business model to offer a bit of each, and some hybrid concepts will emerge which can offer a ‘best of both worlds, club within a club’ approach.


” 40 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital November/December 2014 © Cybertrek 2014


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