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21 Sep 2021

UK fitness sector could gain 5 million new members 'with right support'
BY Tom Walker

Growth modelling suggests that fitness memberships could grow from 10 million to 15 million

Growth modelling suggests that fitness memberships could grow from 10 million to 15 million
photo: Shutterstock/blissblue_11

VAT reform, adjustments in business rates and a fitness-led high street regeneration push could see the UK's fitness sector gain 5 million more paying members by 2030.

Growth modelling conducted by industry body ukactive suggests that the number of active memberships at health clubs, swimming pools and leisure centres could grow by more than half – if the government puts the right support in place.

The analysis projects that the number of members at fitness and active leisure facilities could increase from the current 10 million to more than 15 million in less than 10 years.

ukactive modelled the potential impact that a package of government interventions would have on the UK's physical activity levels.

Actions identified as being the most impactful include VAT relief, business rates reform, infrastructure investment, health incentives, procurement reforms, and high street regeneration with fitness services at its heart.

Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said that if the unlocking of the "true potential" of the physical activity sector would lead to a raft of benefits felt across society – including "hundreds of millions of pounds" worth of social value through a healthier population, improved life satisfaction and wellbeing.

“Our forecasting shows that a physical activity revolution is within grasp and can happen with a growth in the partnership between the government, its agencies, and the fitness and leisure sector," Edwards said.

“This is an opportunity to shift the dial on the nation’s health over the next eight years, resulting in five million people becoming far more active in their daily lives.

“As we learn to live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future, we must do more to support the resilience of our communities by ensuring every person has access to physical activity services."

The forecast and measures are set to be discussed by policymakers and sector leaders at the ukactive Conference, taking place at the Guildhall, London, on 13 October.



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