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David Stalker: Where next and who will replace him?

By Kate Cracknell    05 Feb 2015
Stalker: New CEO is likely to be someone from within the fitness industry

David Stalker, who this week confirmed he would be stepping down from his role as CEO of ukactive, has outlined his plans for the future in an exclusive conversation with Health Club Management.

 Stalker confirmed reports on Twitter that he would be starting up a chain of trampoline parks under the brand name Altitude. "It won't just be kids' parties," said Stalker. "We'll have indoor dodgeball, parkour, foam pits for slam dunking basketballs, fitness classes, rehab. It's already huge in the US and I'm really excited about the opportunity here in the UK."

 The first site has already been secured and will open in Acton, west London, in June. Plans are to open four or five sites over the next year, and 15 or 16 over the next few years.

 Stalker was approached about the new role by Jacaranda Capital, who had identified the opportunity and wanted to create a strong management team to lead the charge. The project is backed by a number of high net worth individuals, with the first round of funding securing almost £3m – enough for the first two sites.

 "The time is right for me to move on," said Stalker. "I've achieved what I set out to do at ukactive – what I came to the job tasked to do – with the new governance structure really the last part of that.

 "The ukactive business has changed significantly in the seven years I've been here and I believe it's now ready for a new dynamic. We've worked hard to integrate ourselves into the public health agenda and we're at that table now. I believe what ukactive now needs is an attention-to-detail person to take the vision we've created and continue the journey."

 So will that person be from the fitness sector or from healthcare? "ukactive represents a lot more than health and fitness these days," says Stalker. "But my feeling is that – at least for now – the CEO is likely to be someone from within the fitness industry, and almost certainly should be.

 "We've grown from around £1m turnover to over £8m in the last seven years, with significant growth expected going forward, and now only around 9 per cent of income comes from health and fitness sector membership; it used to be around 95 per cent. ukactive is a very different organisation now.

 "However, quite feasibly that £8m-plus wouldn't have been achievable without the £750,000-plus that comes from membership. The fitness industry still sees ukactive as its trade association and I think we need to acknowledge that in the new appointment."

 Stalker will retain his position as chair of CIMSPA and will sit on the ukactive board for the next year.

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