Pensioners drive boom in new gyms

Entrepreneurial senior citizens helped the number of small and medium UK gyms grow by 37 per cent in the last three years, according to new research from Barclays.

The number of over-65s opening their own health and fitness clubs has risen by a quarter since 2012. Female entrepreneurs also played a big role in the sector’s boom. More than half of its small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are now owned by women, compared to a UK average of 38 per cent.

A surge in health-conscious consumer spending has left the industry in rude health, with turnover up 41 per cent. Its total market value was estimated at £4.3 billion in the 2015 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report.

The industry’s biggest businesses are also reaping the benefits. Since its acquisition of LA Fitness last year, Pure Gym has the become the owner of 132 health clubs, the most of any company in the country. Virgin Active (96 gyms), David Lloyd Leisure (85), Nuffield Health (77) and Fitness First (70) round out the top five.

Steven Ward, the executive director of the industry’s trade body ukactive, said the figures showed  that the sector was a crucial driver in the UK economy.

“In a time of deep pressures on the NHS and local services, it’s more important than ever that all communities have the opportunity and access to get active”, he added.

“Entrepreneurs who succeed in providing the answer will find their services in high demand.”

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