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04 Dec 2020

Gym members more confident to return after second lockdown
BY Tom Walker

76 per cent of gym members said they will return immediately when the doors to their health club or leisure centre are open

76 per cent of gym members said they will return immediately when the doors to their health club or leisure centre are open
photo: Shutterstock.com/Flamingo Images

Gym and health club members in England have flocked back to fitness facilities in droves since the reopening of the sector on 2 December.

Now, a study by research and insight specialist Leisure-net suggests that this is down to consumers having more confidence in returning to fitness facilities than they had following the first lockdown earlier this year.

Leisure-net’s Post Lockdown Recovery Survey revealed consumer confidence about returning to facilities is extremely high, with well over three quarters (76.34 per cent) of members questioned saying they were confident to return immediately when the doors to their health club or leisure centre opened.

The survey questioned 33,544 customers across 771 facilities in the UK, and the results can be cross-referenced by age, gender, operator type and region.

Respondents demonstrated faith in their operator’s ability to keep them safe while exercising, with nearly 70 per cent of those who returned between July and November expressing greater confidence in their facility’s COVID-related systems, processes and practices.

Additional questions regarding the value of staff were included in the survey, with 66 per cent rating the friendliness of staff as very important, the 63 per cent stating the support and guidance of the fitness and group exercise team is very important.

The new research, sponsored by Active IQ, followed the same protocols as Leisure-net’s initial survey back in April, designed to gauge consumer confidence following a second spell of closure for UK health clubs and leisure centres.

“The initial survey results have been widely used to inform decision making, lobby local and central Government and shape re-opening guidance," said Dave Monkhouse, Leisure-net director.

“Now this second survey provides further evidence to underpin our sector’s campaign for recognition as an essential service, as well as supporting operators with their decisions on when and how to reopen their facilities.

Jenny Patrickson, managing director of Active IQ, added: “The survey findings really reinforce how much members value the staff who work at their local leisure facility.

"It proves once again that soft skills, such as being friendly and approachable, are equally important for PTs and instructors as their knowledge and guidance in an exercise and wellness setting.

“The research bears this out, showing the importance of personal interaction and empathy, especially in the current climate where reassurance and support are needed.

"Operators should not be surprised by these findings, but it does no harm to remind ourselves that despite all the challenges, our industry must maintain its ‘people first’ stance.”

• To read a comprehensive analysis of the first Leisure-net survey, conducted back in April, click here for HCM Issue 8 2020.



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