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State of the Fitness Industry Report 2022 finds UK industry building back to pre-pandemic levels

By Frances Marcellin    26 May 2022
The new State of the Fitness Industry Report for 2022 has found the industry rebuilding / Jacob Lund/Shutterstock
The Leisure Database Company has released topline numbers from its State of the Fitness Industry Report for 2022
It found 631 clubs have closed, the majority early in the pandemic, while 455 have opened – a difference of 176
Market value is down by 4.3 per cent – around the same level as 2018 – 2019 was a peak year
Membership dropped by 4.7 per cent to 9.9 million
During the last two years, in which making sense of the numbers became a matter of life and death for operators, the industry had huge gaps in the data it had to share
– David Minton, director, The Leisure Database Company

The Leisure Database Company (TLDB) has revealed its State of the Fitness Industry Report UK for 2022, following an audit of more than 7,000 facilities in the public, private and independent sectors.

This is the first time the report has been published since 2019.

Researchers found the market to be in remarkably good shape considering the disruptions of the pandemic, with overall results showing some key metrics to be running at the same levels as 2018 and some at 2019 levels, when the industry was having a 'golden moment', with record results in all areas.

Memberships decreased by 4.7 per cent from 10.4 million in 2019 to 9.9m (9,890,985) in 2022 and market value was down by 4.3 per cent from £5.1 billion in 2019.

In 2019, the market value of the sector had increased by 4.2 per cent from the previous State of the Fitness Industry Report (2018), so the industry's present status takes us back to around 2018 value levels.

The penetration rate dropped back one percentage point to 14.6 per cent after passing the 15 per cent barrier for the first time back in 2019.

The research does not count consumer health club activity using aggregators, such as Classpass and Hussle and it's not clear how much consumer activity in the market has migrated to these services since the last report was published in 2019 or how much this might have impacted results had it been counted.

Since the previous State of the Fitness Industry Report (2019), 631 clubs have closed however, 455 new facilities have opened, meaning the overall number of sites has only dropped 2.43 per cent from 7,239 in 2019 to 7,063 in 2022, a difference of 176.

Half of the closed businesses failed in the first year of the pandemic, meaning the rate of losses slowed considerably after these early casualties, although the timing of the research means that post-rent moratorium closures will not have been counted.

David Minton, director of The Leisure Database Company, told HCM the report’s findings are the result of over 4,000 hours of research and are drawn from an “estimated billion data points” that have been built up over time.

Following the pandemic, Minton says that greater industry transparency is necessary if more industry metrics are to be collected which could potentially then demonstrate a link between club memberships, gym-going activity, and human health.

“As an industry, we have very little collective knowledge and no aggregated hard data about a whole slew of vital industry metrics that government and other agencies could have related to during the worst days of the pandemic,” said Minton. “During the last two years – in which making sense of the numbers became a matter of life and death for operators – the industry had huge gaps in the data it had to share.

“The government had hard numbers on age-standardised mortality rates by age and vaccination status, but fitness levels, membership and frequency of visits to facilities weren’t linked to this – for good reason – the numbers would have been desperately unreliable.

“We now need to be more transparent and honest about the starting points for understanding our sector when it comes to age breakdown, monthly activity events, improvements in strength, flexibility, balance and cardio among individuals.”

The full State of the Industry Report 2022 can be accessed here. For a report by David Minton in the next issue of HCM, sign up now for your personal copy here.

The Leisure Database Company  David Minton  State of the Industry Report  pandemic  club closures 
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