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Category Archives: Health & Fitness News

Health & Fitness Industry News from 4Leisure Recruitment

Client in Focus: The Massage Company

The Massage Company Camberley

4 Leisure Recruitment has been working with The Massage Company since before their launch in 2016. We have helped with recruiting the professional staff that The Massage Company need to fulfil their aim of helping more people to realise the benefits of massage. By changing people’s beliefs that massage should only be done as and when it is needed, they aim to improve their customers’ wellbeing through regular, routine treatments.

The Massage Company are bringing massage to the mainstream. From their location in Camberley, Surrey, their aim is to grow across the UK and open more and more branches, making their monthly subscription model available to more people.

Who are The Massage Company?

The Massage Company was started by Charlie Thompson and Elliot Walker back in 2016. Both have a solid background in the spa and leisure industry – Thompson’s previous roles include a stint as the head of Virgin Active’s 80 spas, while Walker previously launched, built and ran Murad Cosmetics. Both are committed to providing a professional and accessible massage service. The quality of staff is paramount – they have even developed their own certified training programme for their staff.

Their flagship location in Camberley is in a prime location, a stone’s throw from the train station. You can have a look around with Charlie Thompson on their 360 video

The Massage Company won the award for Best New Business of the Year 2016 in the Collectively Camberley Business Awards – see more at

Work at The Massage Company

Jobs at The Massage Company

Want to work at The Massage Company? If you’d like to have an informal, no-obligation discussion in confidence, please do get in touch with us at 4 Leisure Recruitment – it’s or call us on 01895 450640

>> Check out all the current jobs we have at The Massage Company <<

Check out all jobs in Spa and Beauty

Check out all our jobs in Health and Fitness 

Leisure Industry: Predictions for 2018

Leisure industry trends 2018 Part 2 (1)

As the door closes on 2017, another one opens on 2018. A fresh new year can bring new challenges, and also new opportunities.

We spoke to 4 Leisure Recruitment MD Jean Wing Hing to see what he thinks is going to be the big news in the UK leisure industry in 2018.

What do you think is going to be the damp squib of 2018?

Jean: We are starting to get wind of more and more trampoline parks shutting down. Word on the street is that prices can’t get any more competitive and there’s not enough room for everyone. As operators struggle to diversify their offering, we’re predicting much flatter growth for this sector in the coming months.

What developments in the gym sector?

Jean: The health and fitness industry has seen an explosion of so-called boutique health clubs over the last couple of years. These are typically smaller clubs with quite distinct identities that cater for the discerning gym goer who shies away from the big commercial gyms chains. They were seen as quirky, trendy retreats that only those in the know were members of. But the boutique chains have aggressively been rolling out sites and, together with them being ideally sized for franchisees to pick up, the boutique market has become somewhat mainstream, dare we say.

So what’s next? Specialist seems to be the new boutique. Not only does a gym brand have to be cool, individual and all of the above, but it now has to deliver a specialized service. They provide products that are slick and well-packaged yet still appeal to the masses. Have a look at 9Round and Barry’s Bootcamp as great examples of brands doing things in a new way.

What’s happening in the world of wearable tech, a topic we’ve been talking about for years?

Jean: One of the biggest trends we’re seeing at the moment is gym companies really embracing the tech available on the market and looking to integrate with personal devices. Soon it’s not unfeasible that we will we all be connected to our personal trainers 24/7. Whether that happens in 2018 is unlikely, but it’s coming.

What about the spa sector?

Jean: There have been many developments in the spa sector this last couple of years and I think that mindfulness will be the hot topic in 2018. With the trends moving from beauty treatments to wellness treatments recently, the next step is offer treatments which are more holistic and incorporate mental health as well as physical health and wellness. Industry leaders are already starting to develop an offering which is more in the mindfulness sphere than ever before.

Thanks, Jean. We will look out for these in the leisure industry in 2018.

To see a review of our 2017 and what 2018 may have in store for us here at 4 Leisure Recruitment, have a look at our last blog post.

Batten down the hatches – the new year is coming!

New year leisure recruitment

We are fast approaching the end of the year and beginning of 2018. With that in mind in the world of leisure recruitment, our minds turn from staffing luxury fragrance counters for the madness of the festive period to preparing for the stampede of new members in gyms and fitness centres across the UK.

While shops and restaurants are taking a well-earned breather in the month after Christmas, gyms and health and fitness providers see a massive upturn in business. Starting new year’s resolutions and fighting to work off the thousands of extra calories consumed over the Christmas period sees an increased demand for health and fitness services. In the leisure industry, we call it ‘the Golden Quarter’, and as leisure professionals, we have witnessed it ourselves, year after year.

With rises in total membership and reports of the growth of the industry, fitness operators nationwide are bracing themselves. Temporary skilled recruits are vital at this time of year. Whether it be membership sales consultants or temporary personal trainers to help with the influx, here at 4 Leisure we have an experienced team on hand to fill those gaps.

Looking for a new leisure job?

Likewise, if one of your resolutions is to get a new leisure job then now would be a good time to try out a new role on a temporary basis. Temporary work not only gives the chance for a trial for both the employer and the employee, but it can give vital training and experience for those who are trying to break into the industry. Or it could simply be a good way of getting a few more paid hours in while you can.

Do you need extra staff for your leisure business?

If you are a leisure business and are currently planning for January then get in touch we have a dedicated team who can tailor a recruitment package specific to your needs.

Here are some of the challenges involved in managing members of your health club.

Research from Mintel has shown that spending on fitness remains strong, despite a credible threat from fitness technology. Member retention can be an issue, however, with some members citing unfriendly staff as a problem. It is imperative that the staff you hire are aware of the impact that they can personally have on your gym’s success.

Read this article for more information –

Recent intervention into gym membership deals by the CMA has made it harder for gym operators to lock clients into long-term contracts. This is a good thing for the client and makes gym membership an easier option, however, it does mean that gym brands can no longer rely on long-term commitment from clients and it will be necessary to find other ways to keep clients happy and paying for longer.

The idea that you can take advantage of someone’s good intentions in the new year and keep them paying for two years or longer has all but disappeared, and gyms are now having to work harder at client retention. The result should be happier clients whose needs are being met continuously and not just until they sign the membership contract.

That doesn’t mean that people will not be looking to join a gym after Christmas. However the government intervene in membership business models, people are still human and will be making all the right intentions to change their behaviour and health habits throughout January and into February.

If you need staff to plug a few holes and get those paying customers on board and happy for as long as possible, get in touch with our temporary division now.

temp gym recruitment

Photo by Martin Barák on Unsplash

Why would you want to be a Lifeguard?

There may be many good reasons to be a lifeguard. Thanks to the role of lifeguards Zac Efron, The Rock and co, being a lifeguard is officially cool again. But there’s more to it than running down the beach, saying hi to sun-kissed patrons.

The movie, for all its cheesiness, could actually make a few more people think that training to be a lifeguard would be an awesome thing to do. Do you know what – it actually is!

maxresdefault from the baywatch movie

© The Baywatch Movie

© The Baywatch Movie

Training to be a lifeguard is a great idea for many reasons.  Here are just some of the things we think make being a lifeguard a brilliant idea.

Being a lifeguard saves lives.

It really is that simple. Learning the skills that equip you to save someone’s life is just incredible. The great thing is that those skills stay with you forever. Whatever you go on to do later in life, you will always have the skills that essentially make you a lifesaver.

It keeps you fit!

All the training and swimming suits you if you love to be fit, healthy and active. Being a lifeguard helps others to do the same, and a lifeguard is always a role model of the pool area.

It looks great on a CV

Being a lifeguard could be your first step on the ladder of a lifelong career in the fitness industry – it is a great place to start. The skills you learn stay with you for a long time. You will get a fantastic insight into the frontline and backroom operations of a public-facing leisure service, dealing with all the highs and lows that being an active part of a leisure team entails.

When you’re looking to move up in your leisure career, then your stint as a lifeguard will be sure to give you some great stories to share in a job interview. Being a lifeguard is always going to be a great ice-breaker whether it’s in a job interview, or on a first date – once you have trained and worked as a lifeguard people will always want to hear about it!

Lifeguard jobs uk

It has a lot of kudos

Who wants to work in a call centre, or flip burgers as a summer job, when you can wow everyone with your tales of heroism as a lifeguard? Even if you’re lucky enough not to have needed to use your lifesaving skills all season, it still sounds pretty awesome, and you get to hang out at a place of fun all summer, rather than being cooped up in a kitchen or an office.

You may not have to use your saving skills daily, but there are other things you will do which will be appreciated by others, whether it’s to help a less-mobile person in and out of the pool, or stopping an excited child from running and smashing their head open (spoilsport!). Check out the hashtag #EverydayHero from the RLSS to find some fantastic examples. Not all heroes wear capes.

Friends for life

Lifeguarding is a team effort, and the ties you make with like-minded people right now could be the key to your future success. Your new found BFF might go on to be a hiring manager at a swanky leisure company, and they may remember the time you both spent together checking PH levels and dishing out pool noodles at that local authority leisure centre when they need to hire their next leisure exec.

Lifeguards are friends for life

Want to be a lifeguard?

There is lots of up-to-date information about exactly what the NPLQ course entails and how to renew your lifeguard qualification here

It’s true that not everyone wants to train to be a lifeguard, but if you do – it is because you are special and we think you will make a very special lifeguard too. If you want more information about lifeguard training and vacancies near to where you are then please get in touch. Our lifeguard recruitment team can help with all aspects of careers in the leisure industry. We like lifeguards so much we have a complete division dedicated to it!

Learn more about our lifeguard recruitment team at

Our current lifeguard jobs are…….

Lifeguards in North London – Outdoor Lido – Temp – £8.27 – £8.78 per hour

Duty Manager – with pool duties – Essex – £17k – £19k

Lifeguard/Duty Manager – Hampshire – Temp – £8.27 – £9.00 per hour

Lifeguard/Recreation Assistant in various locations around Oxfordshire – Perm – £13k – £17k

Lifeguards needed for temp work in the following locations……

Barnet, Brighton, Bedford, SW London, North London, Bournemouth

Please get in touch with our lifeguard recruitment team for these roles


The leisure industry in 2017

As we take a quick look back over the leisure industry in 2016 there has been some huge changes from where we started the year to where it is ending. Thank you to all of those people who have been involved this last twelve months – we very much look forward to spending 2017 with you too!

Leisure trends in 2016 and for 2017

The UK leisure recruitment industry

At 4Leisure Recruitment, we have seen our team grow and are excited about the recruitment industry for 2017. Despite the pinch that the living wage is bringing to many employers, the leisure sector is showing great growth and strength.  It is impossible to ignore the political changes that have taken place in 2016 so it has to be acknowledged that effects on the leisure industry have been felt as part of the global shift in politics.

However, the UK leisure industry seems to have benefited from a lift in the number of people using the services available. The spa industry particularly has seen a boost as people seem to be pampering themselves at home instead of booking holidays abroad. We seem as a nation to be spending more time and money on ourselves which is great for the industry and leisure recruiters alike!

gym industry trends

Record gym membership

In May it was announced that gym and health club memberships had reached a record high. Awareness about personal health, fitness and wellness seems to be ever increasing. At government level plans are a-foot to merge the need to improve the general health of the population as a whole and tapping into the resources of local leisure centres and trying to capture inactive groups which can only lead to more leisure jobs, more gyms and more pools!

uk swimming trends

A dive in the popularity of swimming

However, swimming has seen a dip in the number of folks doing it on a regular basis, with reports that regular swimming participation has seen a drop of around 24%

But it may be that the reasons behind this include the very fact that there are so many other activities on offer that people are not exercising less in the pool, but more everywhere. 2016 has seen 564 new publicly accessible pools open.

We also have not experienced a drop in demand for qualified lifeguards, so it remains to be seen if swimming participation will have a major long-term impact on the leisure industry as a whole.

trends in fitness tech

Leisure tech

One trend we can’t ignore from 2016 is that of ever advancing technology. David Lloyd Leisure has had a major virtual fitness rollout and we predict 2017 will see much more of the same. There is no escaping the explosion of tech in the leisure sector, so don’t try to escape it. If you were one of the millions of users of Pokemon Go earlier this year then you certainly embraced the cultural shift to blending tech and exercise. We predict much more of the same next year and eagerly await the next big release.

Olympics and Paralympics 2016

Major events

2016 has seen the leisure sector grow at a faster rate than retail, possibly helped along by some huge events in the sporting world, including the Olympics and the Paralympics. A truly spectacular event with some brilliant performances both by teams and individuals. In case you missed our earlier blog post about some other sporting events you really don’t want to miss, take a look at where you need to go if you are looking for something to start a training schedule for in the new year.

We very much look forward to seeing the rise of skateboarding next year too as one of the newest additions to the Olympic line up. It will be good to see new facilities and enthusiasts finding a wider platform.

Beauty retail staff

High demand for beauty and spa

2016 has seen us experience high demand for passionate beauty retail staff. It seems that more of us are willing to pay for good quality beauty products and we have been providing retail staff to help customers looking for advice on what to purchase.

The spa industry in general is taking advantage of the demand for beauty products and treatments – in November, Pure Gym launched a membership-style salon concept. We look forward to seeing this roll out further in 2017.

The rise of trampoline parks

Bouncing onward?

Trampoline venues have had a huge rise in popularity in the last 18 months. They seem to be popping up all over the place but the market is already becoming very aggressive with some already starting to close. 2017 is likely to see these businesses striving for diversification in the battle to compete. Some of our clients are already introducing facilities such as climbing walls, laser tag and “ninja warrior” style courses. As they evolve, these will provide more credible venues for the corporate market. There are plenty of businesses now focused keenly on the corporate event market and the ability to provide a full entertainments package with much more comprehensive catering options may be the difference between those that survive and those that don’t.

What else do we envisage 2017 bringing for us – well after some of the events of this year I think it is safe to say next year will be a complete adventure- one we look forward to taking with you.

Congratulations to The Massage Company

We are delighted to share the news that The Massage Company won Best New Business in Surrey at the SME Surrey Business Awards. As recruiters for The Massage Company we couldn’t be happier for them in their success.


Charlie Thompson Operations Director said ‘We were delighted to win Best New Business in Surrey. As a business we bring a whole new concept to the UK. Massage should not just be a luxury-it should be a vital part of leading a balanced and healthy life’.

When we announced our partnership with The Massage Company we said then just how much we were looking forward to working with people with such a clear strategy, one that clearly is working! – Read more about our partnership at

From here we not only want to congratulate them on this fabulous award but we are also excited about what the future will hold for them. For more information about the company please visit their website

The SME Surrey Business Awards are an endorsement of hard-work, determination and enterprise in business. Winning such an award recognises a business and offers exceptional opportunities as well increasing credibility.

The Massge Company win Best New Business of 2016 at the SME Surrey Awards

How a sport becomes an ‘Olympic’ sport and how Rugby Sevens made that journey.

Rugby Union was played at Olympic level between 1900 and 1924, at which stage it was dropped from the line-up. This year sees Rugby Sevens appear on the Olympic stage – So what is Rugby Sevens and what does it take to be an Olympic sport?

Flexibility in the line-up for the Olympics reflects societal change and diversity over the ages. Sports go in and out of fashion over time. The rugby played in the Olympic Games back at the turn of the century was the traditional 15 player game. The game included today in the battle for medals is the newer faster and shorter version. This shorter version currently being celebrated by Olympic viewers originated as a fund-raiser in Scotland back in 1883. From there it spread, firstly south of the Scottish borders and then globally.

Women's rugby

Rugby sevens is administered by World Rugby and is played internationally with the World Rugby Seven Series running annually.

Rugby Sevens is a variant of rugby union and has only seven players on each team. There are only five subs and substitutions are limited to five. The match is played in two halves of seven minutes each with only a one-two minute half-time break. The entire structure of the game is designed to keep it fast paced and free-flowing. Played by both men and women this design means that entire tournaments can be played in a matter of days as is the case in Rio.

The olympics

The International Olympic Committee are the body responsible for deciding the fate of a sport that chooses to apply for Olympic inclusion. The journey is a long and complicated one.

Initially the sport has to be recognised as a sport by the IOC. Then the IOC require that the sport be governed by an international body. That body then has to apply many codes and rules set out by the Olympic charter. Recognition as a sport does not however determine inclusion, – for example chess has for many years tried to become part of the Olympics.

An application process can then be undertaken where the IOC decide which applications are successful. The decision is based on a number of factors; including the popularity of the sport, and that the sport must be played by both men and women. Cost factors concerning where to hold the sport are considered in order that hosts are not faced with huge overheads for a venue which may never again be used. Appeal to the younger generation is also a factor and the sport must be considered to ‘add value’ to the games.

Whilst rugby sevens made it back into the games this year, baseball and wrestling were removed. Announced just this month, baseball has made it back onto the list of confirmed sports for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This highlights the ever-changing face of sport and society. Completely new to the line-up in 2020 will be skateboarding and surfing.

The journey to become a new Olympic sport is a complicated one based on many factors and in years to come we may even see the return of the good old tug of war!

Until then it’s time to sit back and enjoy the fiercely exciting Rugby Sevens tournaments and break out your skateboards – there is only four years to make it into the GB Skateboarding team!


Leisure Industry Trends for 2016

It’s that time of year again when we look ahead and plan for the future. Being in contact both with leisure operators and employees on a daily basis gives us the privilege of seeing the leisure industry from multiple perspectives. That, teamed up with our crystal ball skills, means we can have a good stab at what is going to be big in leisure in 2016.

Here are our predictions for leisure industry trends in 2016

Leisure Industry Trends for 2016

The end of membership plans?

2015 has been the year of the boutique gym. With the rise of budget offerings from big brands such as Xercise4Less, and the middle-ground being eroded, boutique gyms have filled the demand for more personal and luxury health and fitness facilities. Niche offerings such as cycling studios have popped up all over London and in other major UK cities.

On the back of this, eagle-eyed businesses have introduced pass schemes, giving members access to a wide range of gyms and fitness studios, often at a price much lower than going directly to the club. With access to a greater range of workout options at a cheaper price, pay-as-you-go passes such as those offered by PayAsUGym and ClassPass are a more attractive proposition for busy people who want more variety at a more economical price. It’s not hard to see why these passes are rising in popularity.

Sadly for the operators, it means an erosion in profit margins as they are putting forward the same offering but at a discounted price – and presumably the pass providers are taking a cut too – meaning many boutique leisure facilities are struggling to make a profit at all. While schemes such as these are great at picking up the slack in capacity, much like what the spa sector has been experiencing with deals from group buying schemes such as Groupon, in the long-term the special offers and “loss leaders” need to turn into sustainable custom and profit.

The general consensus from those that we speak to is to participate in long-term reduced membership schemes with caution. An over-reliance on this business model could well end up in a downward spiral where profits are significantly reduced.

It seems clear that these businesses are here to stay as they’re obviously popular with customers. New operators to the market will need to take heed and build their businesses with third-party referrals firmly in mind.

 The rise of the franchise

2016 is set to be a big year for the franchised health and fitness businesses. Inside information suggests that several major operators are about to hit the market in a big way having sat under the radar whilst franchisees waited for suitable property to become available. We expect a huge number of franchised gyms opening in 2016, possibly over 100.

And it’s not just health and fitness. Our visits to spa and beauty trade shows also show a strong trend towards the franchise model with some interesting concepts on the horizon. Watch this space!

The National Living Wage

The National Living Wage paying £7.20 an hour for all employees aged 25 and over becomes statutory in April 2016. This is an extension of the National Minimum Wage, and up to now has been entirely voluntary.

The National Living Wage will mean an increase in pay for many UK leisure industry workers, especially those near the bottom of the wage tier. Rightly, the government do not want to raise wages too high for those aged 18 – 25 as this will stifle employment of those who desperately need the work experience to make any progress at all in their careers. But for those who employ a large number of lower-paid over 25s, the National Living Wage could make a huge difference to company profitability.

It is only right that those who have experience and skills are paid a wage which enables them to live without having to claim in-work benefits in order to pay for a roof over their heads or to feed their families, but this will inevitably put the burden back onto employers. It is expected that jobs will be lost in 2016 because of this but hopes are high for the labour-intensive leisure industry. Until robots can make effective and quick pool rescues, or give a good massage, or deal with nervous and emotional clientele, the human touch is very much required in effective leisure operation.

For employees it may mean better pay but employers will be expecting more for their money. However, it should mean better staff retention and engagement, as wage levels tend towards a standard and the incentive to move for a pay rise reduces. It will certainly be interesting to see what develops in the second quarter of 2016 and beyond.

Olympic (and Brazilian) Fever

August will see the much-anticipated Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. Pessimists expect that Olympic fever will be much lower than when London hosted in 2012, and they are probably somewhat correct, but we still expect an interest in niche sports again come the autumn. Who knows what the breakthrough sport will be this year?

The British team are hoping to improve on their impressive medal haul from 2012 but it will be hard to beat previous years’ success in sports such as cycling. Athletics and swimming are tipped to give Team GB their biggest hopes. Expect a flurry of people in the pool trying to butterfly, dive, and synchronise their way to future Olympic glory.

A tennis renaissance?

With the recent success of Britain in the Davis Cup, we fully expect a rise in interest in tennis come the spring. Which leisure operators will be in the best position to offer this in 2016? David Lloyd clubs is the obvious answer, but we also expect a rise in membership of good old fashioned local tennis clubs, and a push in the school sports curriculum to take advantage of any rise in interest from younger participants.

Leisure trends in 2016

2016, like any year in leisure, will be dynamic and interesting. With such close ties to customer demand, the leisure industry will be shaped by how it can best serve its paying customers. What you can be sure of is whatever the future holds for leisure operators, 4Leisure Recruitment will be there to make sure they have the skilled employees that can make all the difference between a profitable business and a floundering one.


Wearable fitness tech – game changer?

As we discussed in our last blog post, people are being encouraged to abandon the confines of the gym and do more exercise outdoors. This is all well and good, especially as we move towards the better summer weather, but using equipment at the gym does has its advantages.

One of the things I miss when I’m running outside rather than on a treadmill is the little data dashboard telling me how far I’ve run, how long I’ve been running for, and my burned calories. I also quite like the heart rate monitor as it shows the exercise I’m doing is actually having an impact. Not only does the data serve as a way of showing how my fitness is improving, but it also keeps me motivated to improve. Do you agree?

Unsurprisingly, coupled with the trend towards more outdoor exercise, is the rise in wearable tech. The rise in wearable tech was one of our fitness industry predictions for this year, and so far 2015 has proved us right. Here’s the lowdown on the more popular models.

The Apple Watch

Anyone with an iPhone or iPad must be aware of the Apple Watch. Apple’s latest product is designed to do a range of stuff, including sending you notifications of emails and all sorts of other iOS staples. It can also sync with the Apple Watch app which seems to have mysteriously appeared on my iPhone5 during one of the recent upgrades. Apple Watch syncs with your iPhone (version 5 and above), and can do lots of things, including monitoring your activity levels and counting your calories. It also has an in-built heart rate sensor.

The Apple Watch Sport starts from £299, with the more ‘fashion’ type models at around £599, and the special edition ones at an eye-watering £5k and above. For more details, have a look at

Apple Watch Sport

Image from Apple

The Microsoft Band

A competitor to Apple Watch is the Microsoft Band, which encourages you to leave your phone in your pocket and miss none of the special moments in your life. It is certainly not as pretty as the Apple Watch, but it’s a huge saving and has lots of great features. It has in-built GPS, heart rate monitor, and sleep tracking. You can also preview your emails as they come in. If you have a Windows phone, you can access Cortana (the Microsoft equivalent to Apple’s Siri), although the Microsoft Band is designed to work with whatever phone you own, whether this is Android, Windows, or iOS.

It is a more palatable £169.99, more info at

The Garmin vivofit ®

A much more affordable device is the Garmin vivofit ® – priced from £69.99, it is a very basic (in modern terms) wrist device that can be synced with the Garmin Connect app which you can download to an Android or iOS device, and compare your fitness goals with the online Garmin Connect community. More info at

The Fitbit Flex ™

Fitbit Flex ™ comes in a range of colours and is a very simple style. There’s not much to look at while on the go, but it’s a lot more discreet and syncs with your device for later perusal. You can set goals using the free app, which tells the Fitbit Flex to keep you on track with lights and vibrations.

Priced from £79.99 – more details at

Fitbit Flex

The Fitbit Flex – From the Fitbit Flex website


We don’t think that no one model has cracked the market yet. The fitness-specialist devices aren’t very good for doing other things like checking emails, whereas the all-round devices such as Apple Watch could do the fitness side of things much better. We are probably a few years away yet from more comprehensive offerings.

However, wearable fitness tech can pose a real threat to indoor gyms. With a relatively small investment and smart use of your existing devices, you can have your own personal trainer literally to hand 24/7. The challenge to traditional fitness companies is to find a way of incorporating this new tech into their activities – maybe syncing them with their own machines, or creating their own online communities, or finding a way of sending the data to a real Personal Trainer who can use them as a supplement to paid PT sessions.

Wearable tech can’t badger you into exercising, or shout at you if you’re slacking, or provide a friendly ear when you’re really not feeling it. In reality, wrist bands with flashing lights are no substitute for human interaction and knowledge, though us humans better be careful, because wearable tech is developing fast and it won’t be long before those pesky machines are after our jobs.

The Growth of Budget Gyms

The rise of budget gyms

There has always been diversity of offering in the fitness and gym sector – from ladies only gyms, luxury gyms, 24-hour gyms, to fully serviced health clubs. The big story of the last few years has been the rise of the budget gym and the coinciding demise of the mid-range gym.

2014 has seen established mid-range companies such as LA Fitness run into financial problems leading to significant restructuring of their businesses.  Competition from budget gyms during the ‘age of austerity’ has given consumers an even wider choice of fitness provider, with considerably lower membership charges making savvy consumers question the value of their existing provider, and attracting reluctant gym-goers out of the woodwork.

Budget gym operators have almost sprung up out of nowhere – Xercise4Less, for example, had only nine gyms in 2013 and now have 24 with a further 17 opening soon. Even Sir Stelios is getting in on the act with his Easy brand creating easyGym, no doubt with its signature orange look.

So why are budget gyms so popular?

First there is cost. With membership contracts at around £10 – £20 per month, budget gyms are certainly cheaper than alternative providers such as David Lloyd or Virgin Active which charge much more. Yes, mid-range and high-end gyms usually have better facilities – it’s rare a budget gym has a pool or sauna for example – but not all consumers are happy to pay for ‘free’ facilities which they don’t want to, or don’t have the time to use.

Criticism in the past over long contract periods and dubious cancellation procedures have made consumers reluctant to even consider starting a costly membership in the first place. Many budget gyms offer contracts with no lock in period, and some offer pay-as-you-go membership which can be used at any of their branches, offering a huge degree of flexibility. While some consumers like the idea of being locked-in as a motivation to actually use the gym as often as possible, with changing work-life patterns, there is a need to cater to a growing army of consumers who demand greater flexibility and not being fleeced for payment when life sometimes takes over.

Many wonder how the gyms can offer membership at such low rates. The answer is simple – no frills. At some budget gyms, you pay for the basic membership and then can pay for the extras you want, rather than having them included whether you use them or not. Classes can be included or for an extra charge, and PTs are additional if you prefer something more one-to-one. You will have to bring (or pay for) your own drinks, and possibly for extras such as the use of hairdryers. Don’t expect fancy showers or to have towels provided – you may not even get a towel hook in your shower cubicle, or a lock for your locker! (hint – bring your own)

The model relies on large numbers. Cheap membership rates attract a huge number of cash-strapped consumers keen to save money on gym membership, and while many will attend frequently, some will not. The urge to cancel the membership is not so strong when it’s ‘only’ a few pounds a month. But as even the more expensive, luxurious clubs have not been very helpful when it comes to cancelling your contract, it’s still a lot less painful to be locked-in to £10 a month than £40. For customers who don’t want the fancy extras and just need a clean, no-hassle environment to work out, it’s not hard to see the attraction of budget gyms.

We don’t think that more expensive gyms have had their day – there are plenty of consumers who do want the extras and are willing to pay for more luxurious surroundings – but the growth of the budget gym sector has forced higher-end providers to look at their offering. For example, David Lloyd promote their multi-million pound investments across several of their clubs, having made significant improvements to fitness equipment, lounges, pools, and kids clubs.

We think that there is room for all types of fitness providers which cater for many different types of consumer preferences. Some people are prepared to pay for luxury, some like the friendliness and pay-as-you-go model of the local leisure centre, and others just want to work out with no fuss. Mid-range gyms will suffer, and have suffered as this last year has paid testament, unless they can compete on price, or compete on luxury. With consumers being squeezed financially for the foreseeable future budget gyms will continue to hold their deserved place in the fitness sector.

Some of Our Clients