- Total Market Value £3.86 billion 
- 1.4% rise in value but 3.4% rise in total membership 


The UK health and fitness industry has grown its total market value by 1.4% to £3.86 billion, over the twelve month period to end of March 2012, concludes the 2012 State of the UK Fitness Industry report.

The 2012 reports indicates that the industry has experienced optimistic growth in the last twelve months of 1.4% in value and 0.8% in total number of fitness facilities but an overall 3.4% rise in the number of members, according to independent leisure market analysts, The Leisure Database Company.

Indeed throughout the recessionary period the sector has grown.  Since 2009, the fitness industry has grown its total market value by 2.4 %, increased the member base by 3.6% whilst increasing the number of fitness facilities by a further 1.8%. 

The growth in the industry has been driven by a continued two year strong performance from both public fitness facilities and the private low cost clubs.  The public sector overall saw growth across three key performance indicators in the last 12 months: increasing sites open by 0.7%, a growth in market value of 5.8%, and an impressive growth in membership numbers of 5.4%.  Low cost operators have also contributed significantly to this year’s improved performance, demonstrating their influence on the sector.


Summary of Key Facts

  • Total Market Value (public and private sectors combined) is estimated at £3.86 billion, up 1.4% on 2011 and up 2.4% since 2009.
  • 12.1 per cent of the UK population are now registered as members of a health and fitness club or publicly-owned fitness facility contrasting with 11.9% in the previous year.
  • Total industry membership base is the strongest growth indicator, up 3.4% to 7.6 million over the past 12 months; however this is a 3.6% increase since 2009.
  • 163 new public and private fitness facilities opened in the 12 month period ending 31st March 2012, up from 149 in 2011, 122 in 2010 and 114 openings in 2009.
  • There are now 5,900 fitness facilities, up from 5,852, in the UK.

Richard Hunt, Chair of CLOA, announced "In many ways this is remarkable set of results. Against the background of a sustained period of a shrinking UK economy a squeeze on lending, and local authority spending reductions, these headline figures reflect a truly resilient sector that has continued to invest, innovate and appreciate market change and opportunity in difficult times. The fact that membership numbers continue to grow is encouraging for the sector ahead of the potential for a 2012 Olympic health and fitness legacy.

“It is very positive to see that both the market value and the number of health and fitness facilities have grown over the last year,” said Craig McAteer, Chair of sporta, which represents more than 100 leisure and cultural trusts, managing over 900 sites on behalf of local authorities across the UK.

“But what’s more encouraging is that membership levels have exceeded this growth. It is heartening to see that members of the public still make a high priority of their health during these difficult economic times; and sporta members aim to support the health, fitness and wellbeing of the local communities we serve on a daily basis by offering a wide variety of affordable and accessible facilities, activities and programmes”.

Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of BISL, commented
“As the new CEO of Business In Sport and Leisure (BISL) I recognise how our members are contributing to what the last Government was so fond of calling the ‘Golden Decade of Sport’. Architects including S&P, many consultants and contractors of family firms like Wilmott Dixon, National Governing Bodies of Swimming, Tennis and Rugby, leisure management contractors DC Leisure, Leisure Connection and SERCO and the database specialists and authors of this report The Leisure Database Company are all working to help develop new sports and leisure sites and improve existing infrastructure. This in turn encourages more people to be more active using more and better facilities - a key policy aim and one which unites all of BISL’s sports members. The government, via the Olympic bid team, promised a sporting legacy and our members have been working, often in wide effective partnerships, on the delivery.


Reading this annual report on the fitness industry I’m pleased to see so many of our members, directly and indirectly are already delivering. In difficult economic times it is wonderful to see innovation and investment going into the sports, and ‘health and fitness’ industries that touch not just the 12.1% of the population who are live members but all those who are motivated and challenged to ride, run and play a multitude of sports and physical activities. It seems that many of those who are participating now view exercise as an investment, possibly the best sort of investment in a recession.”

Joe Moore, President and CEO of IHRSA said, “This information shows the resilience of this wonderful industry. Club operations are becoming more productive by doing more while carefully managing expenses. Yes, the industry is under pressure, but is reacting magnificently.”
Herman Rutgers, EHFA (European Health & Fitness Association- Brussels), remarked, “We need to do a better job of listening to the needs and wants of our customers and potential customers. With a penetration of only 12% we can hardly speak of a saturated market”.

Damian Lord, Knowledge Manager at Future Foundation, commented, “The key word for fitness consumers in the year ahead is efficiency; namely financial efficiency and efficient exercise. According to nVision (Spring 2012), more than 50% believe that the state of the British economy will worsen over the next 12 months. However, there is a more positive outlook in regard to spending expectations: 41% believe that the amount they spend in general will increase (a rise of 14% from 2010)”.