Brits go to the gym to save money

running machines in a gymBrits are going to keep their New Year resolution to go to the gym more often according to research showing more than one in ten of us are planning to spend more on fitness this year and most will spend the same.

In 2011, the private health & fitness clubs market was worth £2.7bn, up 17% between 2006 and 2011, an increase of 2% between 2010 and 2011. We all want to be fit, not fat.


Mintel's latest research asked Brits about leisure spend in the past 12 months. It found that, despite the worrying economic climate, the area of spending least likely to be cut was the use of private health and fitness clubs. Users of publicly-run fitness centres were close behind.

Just three in ten consumers (30%) say that they have cut back on private gyms over the past 12 months. Some 56% have not changed their spending activities and 14% say they have spent more. As a result, private health and fitness clubs has the lowest net spending decline of all leisure activities (-16%) in the past year.

Users of a private health and fitness club are the least likely to plan to cut back their spending on in the next 12 months (22%) and again, the most likely to say they will spend more (11%). This is closely followed by users of public leisure centres, with just 23% planning to cut back their spending while one in ten (10%) will spend more.

Value for money

Michael Oliver, senior leisure analyst at Mintel, said: "Spending on using a private health and fitness club and a public leisure centre both feature highly among the areas least likely to have been cut back on in the past 12 months, reflecting the perception that they are seen as offering excellent value on a monthly basis, particularly if used frequently.

"Traditionally seen as an easy target to suggest when trying to come up with ways of saving money, the reality is that in fact consumers have responded differently, by increasing their spend at the gym."


In fact, it could be we go to the gym to save money. Olver said: "Indeed, there is a suggestion that some members have used their gym membership as a way of saving money, not only do they become better value for money the more they are used, they also help to keep people from doing other activities, such as going to the pub or eating out, which can easily cost the same amount in a single night as a month's gym membership.

"Health clubs can also be used socially, to catch up with friends either while working out or in the café-bar afterwards.

"The fact that consumers are not planning on cutting back on fitness spend reflects the fact that gym memberships are no longer considered a frivolous luxury but are now seen by many consumers as an essential part of their daily lifestyles, part of keeping healthy and fit in the same way that watching what they eat and drink is.

Hardest hit

Oliver said: "While the public leisure centres and swimming pools sector has probably benefited in similar ways to health clubs, with users spanning a broader range of socio-economic groups, the rate of growth has probably not been as high because of the fact that hard-working family consumers have been particularly hit by the economic downturn."
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