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Fitness franchising on the rise

The incessant vagrancies of economic uncertainty over recent decades have seen a multitude of fads – and the industries that spring from them – come and go. One that would appear to have a bit more staying power, however, is the fitness industry, which is undergoing somewhat of a renaissance of late, a purple patch franchises are poised to take full advantage of.

Exercise is big business in the UK; around 17% of the adult population possess gym memberships – comprising a large and lucrative target market to be tapped into – while the total industry is currently counts worth £3billion, a solid showing in any economic climate.

The current concerns abounding around unhealthy food stuffs and obesity induced by the ‘couch-potato’ lifestyle has invoked a fitness frenzy permeating virtually every aspect of British public life, not least of all the media. This trend has inevitably trickled down to the trenches, so that now the everyday Briton feels the need to keep themselves as fit and healthy as possible. Exercise – particularly from a young age – has been shown to improve cognitive ability and engender increased performance at work and/or school, one of the many reasons it has become a priority for Britons of every age bracket.

Therein, however, they come to a compromise. Memberships of plush, fully-furnished gyms remain dear, so much so as to act as a deterrent to the average Briton suffering under the current downturn.

Necessity as always has proved the mother of invention, and this has fuelled efficiency and innovation within the fitness industry. While gyms remain popular, growing numbers of people now seek lower-cost exercise facilities or small group training to help motivate their fight for fitness.

These are some of a number of trends within the British fitness scene that franchises have the potential to exploit to great effect. For instance, with obesity now at epidemic proportions amongst British school children (up to a third of children in the UK are overweight while a fifth are obese) and with government cuts decimating school and council budgets (the latter leading to a decline in safe play areas) exercise at a younger age has scarcely been more critical, while the private sector has never been better equipped to fill this niche. My Gym is an example of a franchise that has tapped into this market, offering innovative programmes for 3 – 9 year olds spanning disciplines such as gymnastics, relays and dance all focused on children’s fitness. These have proven very popular on the UK market.

Other fitness franchises directing their efforts towards a younger demographic include Premier Sport and PTC Sports. Premier Sports provides sport coaching services to youngsters and counts amongst its stellar list of ambassadors the likes of Rugby World Cup Winner Lawrence Dallaglio and former Olympic Gold Medallist Duncan Goodhew MBE. The franchise fulfils the sport couching needs of schools, communities and local authorities across Britain, while PTC Sports (endorsed by former footballer Steve Claridge) lends its coaching expertise to over 350 schools across the nation. In this way, both franchises have capitalised on the expulsion of such services from tightened budgets through providing valuable coaching to children otherwise denied the chance to exercise constructively and receive high-quality instruction. If you have a passion for sport and desire to fulfil your full pedagogic potential, you could certainly do worse than opt for either franchising option.

Fit4Less on the other hand is a franchise that has identified a niche for low cost gym membership, facilitating this need for as little as £14:99 per month. Around this desire it has cultivated a strong brand that could prove a lucrative investment for an aspiring franchisee, its efficient online system curtailing the administrative cost and clutter that can stem the growth of similar enterprises.

The aging nature of the UK population (in 2010, 17% of Britons were over 65. By 2035, this is expected to rise to 23%) has given rise to a large number of retirees seeking to keep themselves fit, constituting a viable market set to grow into the future. This unique segment has been permeated by Active Lifestyle, a franchise that provides exercise centres tailored to the particular requirements of retirees. The loyalty and spending power of the mature market testify to its potential value, and if you can see a need for said services in your locale an Active Lifestyle franchise could be a route worth pursuing.

A key crucible of the growth of the fitness industry in Britain is weight loss; obesity amongst British adults – at almost one in four – is even higher than the corresponding ratio for children, and so with growing waist lines has come a reinvigorated desire to shed extra pounds. An example of a franchise making waves within this particular portion of the fitness scene in Britain is LighterLife, a weight-loss franchise that provides weight management counselling to help patrons get and/or stay in shape. This is achieved through measures such as cognitive behavioural therapy to help permanently change a patron’s attitude to overeating. If you are more interested in the cerebral side of fitness and weight-loss then this could be the franchising opportunity for you.


Fitpro News, UK fitness industry back to growth

Walker, Tom, 2012, UK fitness industry worth £3.86 billion

PT Net, The Current State of the Gym & Fitness Industry: Growth or Decline?

Hawkins, Oliver, Grey Britain: The ageing of the UK population

The Guardian, Childhood obesity in England

Swainson, Paul, 2012, Top 3 Trends of the Fitness Industry

The Gym, Rise in UK gym members as consumers seek out a fitness bargain!

Taylore, Joel, 2012, Obese people are eating ‘enough to feed 1billion’

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