The health and fitness industry in general has demonstrated a good performance over the past 5 years. The health and fitness club market has experienced a good level of growth since 2011 at 2-3% per annum, with increases in overall total revenue for the sector based on rising levels of membership and in the number of new public and private facilities. The fitness equipment market has seen similar growth of 2-3% per annum. Both markets have benefited from an increased awareness of fitness as an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. This has been achieved through a variety of ways including an increasing focus on sport and fitness in the media and media attention around the rise in obesity levels and campaigns focused around getting young people active.
The UK health and fitness club market continued its steady expansion throughout 2015 with a significant increase in the number of fitness facilities – performance was driven by the low cost sector with the key operators progressing with significant development programmes. As competition in the low cost sector has increased, larger operators have often taken multiple gyms in a town or city to secure their customer base. The higher end of the market incorporating country club and spa facilities has also proven to be resilient. Additional services that many gyms are now providing for their members include specific exercise classes, as well as personalised advice on nutrition and diet.
The UK fitness equipment sector grew by around 3% in 2015, compared with the previous year. Sales of fitness and exercise equipment have risen in line with the improving state of the UK economy, which has led to higher spending by both consumers and operators of commercial gyms (e.g. hotels and local authorities). Recent growth has also been driven by the booming low-cost/budget gym sector, and the corresponding increase in demand for fitness equipment. Within both the home and commercial markets, demand is highly susceptible to new trends and ‘fitness crazes’. Recent examples of trends driving the market include HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), Zumba classes and use of Vibration Plate equipment. More recently, there have been moves towards equipment that can replicate the feeling and sensation of exercising outdoors, as well as products geared towards training in groups. The UK market for fitness equipment is relatively mature, with many well-established leading suppliers. As a result, the market features a number of well-known brands, although in recent years the growth of lower-cost imports has eroded their position.
The outlook for both of these related markets in the medium term is for modest growth. The health club market is expected to remain in a state of flux as low-cost health clubs continue to gain market share from established medium segment health clubs, leading to lower revenue fees across the industry. The outlook for the commercial fitness equipment market in the short to medium term is for moderate growth of 1-2% per annum. Although the current expansion and investment programmes pursued by many leading health and fitness club operators suggests demand for equipment will rise, a number of towns and cities are saturated in terms of health and fitness establishments and significant growth is unlikely. The future direction of the commercial fitness equipment market is also likely to depend upon how well low-cost and budget gyms continue to develop their presence. At present, this sector accounts for just 5% of the UK’s total number of gyms and health clubs, so there is scope for growth – especially if the economic situation deteriorates as a result of the Brexit vote and consumers reign in their spending on non-essentials. The outlook for the home fitness equipment is also for moderate growth over the next couple of years, although demand may experience a decrease towards the end of the decade.