The fact that so many people could see the gym as the place for a romantic encounter perhaps speaks volumes for how embedded the ‘keep fit’ process is in so many people’s lives.
The London health and fitness scene continues to boom, but there is an increasing polarisation in the market between the luxury and studio gym sectors and the budget offers. The premium market accounts for 18% of clubs but represents more than half of all floor space because of its need to accommodate specialist areas such as altitude conditioned studios, o-zone treated pools and bespoke training equipment.
While the sector was once dominated by mid-market branded groups such as Fitness First and LA Fitness, the mid-market’s stronghold has weakened in the face of new niche offers like 1Rebel, F45, Barry’s Bootcamp and the rapid growth of low-cost formats such as Pure Gym. As a result of this diversification, the mid-market sector now only represents 19% of all London clubs while studio gyms make up 41% of clubs across the capital.
Among the newcomers to the scene is the American brand, Peloton. It combines cycling studios with a retail arm where customers can purchase a bespoke bike with an inbuilt 22-inch HD screen onto which a range of immersive cycling classes that can be streamed to you in the (dis)comfort of your own home.
Meanwhile rents are also getting suitably pumped up. Average studio gym rents are around £32.50 per sq ft – a very decent return to landlords for what is often space that would struggle to attract an alternative occupier.
Given the younger generation’s focus on healthier lifestyles plus the growing importance of wellbeing, the London gym sector looks like it will continue in good shape for some time to come.
Head of UK leisure agency,