With the Christmas party season just around the corner and our thoughts already turning to that exciting festive food, fitness and health are at the front of many people’s minds.
When the New Year rolls around, search traffic for diets and exercises will make a 40% jump up, and thousands of pounds will be poured into gym memberships – up to half of which will never be used. However, the other half of those memberships are used – and these fitness fans boost the exercise and fitness industry all year round with their spending and engagement. Some exercise for the love of it, while others have to make a serious effort to get the results they want, but many UK residents are embracing fitness in their own ways.
A fitness revolution in 2016
There has been a significant rise in the amount of people who love exercise and who make a regular commitment to keeping fit. Social media is filled with people posting their diets and health tips, their running times and their gym selfies. After studies back in 2014 revealed that obesity linked to inactivity was costing the country £8.2 billion each year and that almost three quarters of people were overweight, the past two years have seen a renewed national focus on fitness and health.
It seems to have worked. One in seven Brits are now signed up to a gym, which is a 5.3% rise over just twelve months. Flexible payment options such as pay as you go systems, discounts for direct debits and the option to suspend memberships have all helped encourage more gym memberships – as will the public’s perception that gyms today are more inclusive and welcoming. “We get a more diverse kind of membership these days, instead of just bodybuilder types,” says JC Leisure Club manager Maggie Williams. “There are more older people, more women, and people of all abilities. They have different goals to achieve, like improving health and changing their bodies. Some just come to socialise!”
Spending on gym and exercise costs
Even those who struggle to maintain a commitment to exercise still tend to spend a lot. Those good intentions can be very costly! Often, someone who wants to get in shape will splash out on the latest clothing, equipment and memberships, but then they find it hard to actually put the work and effort in. The average person spends £52 on unused fitness equipment – which adds up to a staggering £250 million per year. “January is a particularly busy time for retailers who stock exercise equipment, sports clothing and other fitness products – especially with the winter sales on as well,” says VoucherBin analyst Michaela Barnes. According to a survey, the demand for fitness deals and offers are expected to rise by 61% in 2017.
Gym membership spending is up by 44%, Cardlytics discovered recently. Their survey also revealed that gym members who regularly engage with the service are also more likely to spend at sports clothing stores and at specialist health food stores. Exercise is a serious market with a lot of opportunities. Clothing is one area of fitness spending that continues to rise. Over half of consumers (53%) have made an activewear purchase in the past year, and 52% say they wear leisure clothing at least once a week.
Food and exercise – costs and considerations
Many people hoping to get into shape will change what they eat: people who do exercise often are far more likely to follow a diet plan than those who do not regularly exercise. This is another area where costs get pushed up. People who want to lose weight more likely to spend at health shops, their shopping bills are usually higher than average and they tend to spend more on dining out. Fad diets – and any equipment to go with them – are particularly pricey. Juice cleanse programs can cost hundreds of pounds, while plans for home delivery meals and ingredients often carry a price tag in the thousands.
However, fitness experts agree that these expensive, unusual diets usually do more harm than good – especially when coupled with exercise. At best, they have no effect and sometimes they can even cause weight gain in the long term. The body needs nutrients and fuel in order to work out, so a balanced and sensible diet plan is much more effective. In fact, those who exercise often might need to increase their food intake: and they will still lose weight overall.
Exercise on a budget – keeping costs down
Of course, fitness does not have to mean spending a great deal. There are plenty of exercise enthusiasts who prefer to work out at home, take up running or enjoy classes at the local leisure centre. While 12% of the population are now gym users, four fifths of us admit to having some health or fitness goal we are working towards. Some will purchase equipment to use at home, which can be expensive, but if it gets used often, it is a worthwhile investment.
Exercise can be entirely free, and as simple as walking more or doing things the hard way. Getting off the bus early or leaving the car at home can make a big difference, as can getting up to change channels instead of using the remote. Little changes add up, so even people who hate exercise can do more to get in shape, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. However, the figures suggest that those who love exercising are quite willing to spend a lot.