UK health and wellness sector forecast to grow by £1bn

The UK fitness sector is forecasted to grow this year reaching a total market value of £7.6bn – up from £6.6bn in 2015, according to new research by non-profit health body ukactive.

According to The Rise of the Activity Sector report, a growing consumer appetite for fitness, as well as increasing investment activity within the health club sector, is behind the boom post-Brexit.

There are now 6,435 gyms across the private, public and third sectors, serving 9.2 million members, researchers discovered. The increase of new and exciting gym concepts, from low-cost gyms to family-friendly full-service offerings, is driving the growth – predicting a 17% increase in the value of the gym sector during 2016, with 14.3% of UK adults now owning gym memberships.

The report also found that offering lower prices, 24-hour access and shorter-term contracts has helped with the trend – removing many of the traditional barriers to owning memberships, as well as the rise of boutique fitness studios offering high-end fitness experiences on a pay-as-you-go basis.

The Government’s focus on driving productivity through workplace health and wellbeing programmes, which it hopes will reduce absenteeism and boost the bottom line, is also providing major opportunity for the gym sector moving forward. As a result, investors are enticed by the sector’s strong growth prospects.  

“Exercise has a major role to play in the health agenda and the sustained increases in gym memberships since 2008 and the sector's relative resilience following that turbulent period shows that it is becoming increasingly ingrained as a positive habit in the lives of UK consumers,” said Nick Bishop, managing director, Morgan Stanley, head of leisure EMEA.

Matt Merrick, investor and adviser to the health and wellbeing sector and former Virgin Active chief operating officer, commented: “The health, fitness and activity landscape is likely to attract significant investment interest over the coming years. Favourable demographic and sociological trends make investing in this space particularly appealing in the medium to long term as people increasingly focus on their health, fitness and longevity."  

Britain’s growing gym market is the largest in Europe, with British firms accounting for six of the 19 mergers and acquisitions which took place in the European fitness market last year.

You can read the full report here.