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Private Fitness Operators Report 10.2% Growth In Memberships Since 2022 As ukactive And 4GLOBAL Publish First Private Sector Benchmarking Report

ukactive And 4GLOBAL Publish First Private Sector Benchmarking Report

ukactive and 4GLOBAL have today (27 March) published the first annual Private Sector Benchmarking report, which represents the most accurate picture yet of the scale and impact of privately operated fitness facilities** within the UK.

The report is based on data collected in 2022 and 2023 from 12 private operators, representing 1,089 privately operated fitness and leisure facilities, showing the total number of clubs, number of members and membership revenue, as tracked each quarter.

Key findings (January 2022 – December 2023, with quarters based on calendar year):

  • A net of 78 new clubs opened across the UK, representing a growth rate of 7.7%.
  • The greatest quarterly growth was seen between Q3 2022 and Q4 2022, with a net of 27 new clubs opening.
  • The number of members between Q1 2022 and Q4 2023 increased by 345,958 (10.2%).
  • Membership revenue across the same period rose by 22.4%.

The growth in the number of facilities shows the resilience and determination of operators to invest in new sites and reach more communities with their services, despite the operational pressures faced.

The data indicates that despite the cost-of-living crisis, positive consumer habits are still being seen within private sector gym memberships, with consumers renewing or taking out memberships as they prioritise their physical and mental health.

The sector offers a broad range of membership prices and packages, with options to suit all budgets.

Higher revenue growth may have been driven by inflation-linked price increases in response to operational cost pressures after the energy crisis caused some operators’ bills to rise by up to 200%.

The Private Sector Benchmarking project began in 2021 when facilities reopened following the COVID-19 pandemic, with ukactive and 4GLOBAL collecting quarterly performance data from participating ukactive members to generate an accurate picture of the private sector’s performance.

The first report details how the Private Sector Benchmarking project will collect data and the benefits it will bring to participating members. 

Operators taking part will receive access to a private 4GLOBAL dashboard, where they can track their performance and benchmark this against sector averages on a quarterly basis.

They will be able to use the data and insights to help support their strategies and growth, based on emerging market trends.

For organisations that operate across Europe, the project aligns with the European DataHub project that benchmarks organisations across the continent.

While operator-specific detail will remain private and confidential, the aggregated findings within the report will be used to support ukactive’s research and lobbying work, demonstrating to the Government, decision-makers and investors, the scale and impact of the sector.

With the sample expected to grow over time as more operators contribute, the value of the insights it provides will increase.

As announced at the Active Uprising conference by ukactive Chair Mike Farrar, ukactive, 4GLOBAL and Sport England will work together to combine the findings of the Private Sector Benchmarking project and the Moving Communities platform, which reports data from public leisure operators across England.

The partners will also explore ways to replicate the data collection across the devolved nations. The collaboration means that for the first time, the sector will have access to accurate quarterly reporting of data and insights.

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “These findings provide irrefutable evidence that people want to be more physically active and are prioritising their health and wellbeing by using gyms, pools, and leisure facilities.

“This data is essential in helping show the Government and policymakers the value and potential of the physical activity sector and its role in addressing some of the nation’s biggest challenges, in terms of public health and economic growth.

Indeed, in a General Election year, the credibility of the public health plans from all the main political parties will be dependent on how they plan to leverage the full potential of these facilities.

“Our Private Sector Benchmarking means private operators can now track and benchmark their performance on a quarterly basis against sector averages, helping to better identify trends and insights that can support the overall growth of the sector.

“We’re proud to be working with 4GLOBAL and we’re encouraging all our private operator members to make the most of this new platform so we can continue to use data and insight to give our sector the foundation it deserves to grow and succeed.”

Dr Matthew Wade, Head of Research and Development at ukactive, said: “The need for high-quality data and insight is fundamental in fully understanding and demonstrating the scale, impact, and value of the UK fitness and leisure sector.

“By collecting quarterly data and encouraging our members to get involved and share their data, we are creating an accurate picture of how the sector is performing, leading to valuable insights that will help members make operational decisions and understand the real value our sector brings.”

Utku Toprakseven, Chief Development Officer at 4GLOBAL, said: “At 4GLOBAL, we are immensely proud to be at the forefront of a remarkable digital transformation journey within the health and fitness industry.

“Our collaboration with ukactive and our esteemed sector members in creating the ukactive Private Sector Benchmarking platform marks a pivotal step towards a more data-driven and insightful future.

“The platform, powered by the DataHub infrastructure, unlocks and facilitates key insights about the sector’s performance in clubs, memberships and income, providing invaluable benchmarks to participating operators.

“As we launch this milestone report, it is a privilege to witness the tangible growth and resilience of our sector, underpinned by robust data and analytics.”

The Private Sector Benchmarking Report is available to read here.

To receive the quarterly reports and access to the personalised dashboard for your organisation, please contact: membership@ukactive.org.uk

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