Gym and sports club spending rises

Updated: 
woman in gymBritain's Olympic legacy could be costly for consumers after latest research found that Brits who participate in sports and hobbies spend an average of £678 per person each year.

But with more than half the population admitting to having paid to start a sport or join a gym and then missing session or not working out, a staggering £632m a month could be wasted.

The research from M&S Money, carried out among 1,055 UK adults who participate in sport, found that the most popular activity is going to the gym, followed by swimming and walking or hiking.

Of the top ten activities, five are Olympic sports. But they don't come cheap, as M&S Money found. The Top 10 sports by percentage of population involved and their average monthly cost puts the gyms as the most popular way to get fit, even if it is expensive.
  • Going to the gym 38% - £38
  • Swimming 21% - £26
  • Walking / hiking 21% - £26
  • Running / athletics 19% - £22
  • Cycling / mountain biking 17% - £29
  • Football 9% - £27
  • Dancing 8% - £29
  • Golf 8% - £82
  • Tennis 5% - £49
  • Snooker / pool 4% - £22

Cost of keeping fit

Sporty Brits spend an average of £56 each per month on sports and leisure. The most expensive activities are those requiring specialist equipment, such as motorsports (£167 per month), horse riding (£156 per month) and triathlon (£123 per month).

The most popular sports tend to be slightly more affordable with an average spend of £38 per month on the gym and £26 for swimming and walking.

The time it takes

Active Brits participate in sport an average of once a week. However, those with gym membership and regular runners tend to go every 2-3 days.

The sports that are most commonly pursued on a daily basis are more specialist, reflecting their dedicated niche appeal. Some 27% of people who go horse riding do so on a daily basis, as do 16% of those involved in martial arts. In comparison, just 12% of people who go to the gym do so every day, despite it being the most popular activity overall.

Summer of sport to stop false starts?

The Olympics, Paralympics and other major sporting events held this summer have inspired 23% of Brits who already participate in sport to take up even more. Younger Brits have been the most enthusiastic, with a fifth of active under 35s already involving themselves in more sport and a further fifth planning to do so.

However, past performance indicates that this new-found passion could be short lived. More than half of people surveyed said they have spent money on a sport they have given up quickly, or missed sessions, the most common being gym membership.

If each of these had paid for just one month of unused expenses, the total amount wasted across the country would be £632 million.

No retiring early

Promisingly, sporty Brits are committed to staying active in retirement with 79% planning to carry on their existing sporting pursuits and seven% planning to take up a new one.

The most common sports to take up in retirement tend to be slightly more leisurely, such as walking (27%), swimming (26%) and cycling (15%). Those that people plan to give up tend to be more physically demanding, or team sports, such as netball (57%), rugby (55%) and boxing (51%).

Overall, participation in retirement is expected to be high, with 50% saying they will go walking and 48% saying they will go swimming on a regular basis.

Crawford Prentice, deputy CEO of M&S Money, said: "It's wonderful to see such a high level of participation in sport across the UK – clearly people are being inspired this summer. Our study shows that although some sports are relatively costly and need some financial planning, there are plenty of activities which are low cost and offer the same health benefits and enjoyment of competing and participating."

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