Why the UK fitness industry is not being benched

This article aims to highlight that the UK fitness industry is growing despite the economic downturn. Why this is important and how this can help.

With all the doom and gloom we see in the markets and news coverage, is it not time to uncover some positivity?

In this article, we look at why the UK Fitness Industry is not being benched, referencing findings from both Salience Search Index and Future Fit data for this article, along with market research from ONS & Statista.

Following the industry’s steady growth from 2013 to 2020, we saw the largest drop in gyms and fitness centres in the UK in 2021. At this point the drop was by 614 establishments, taking Gym levels back three years. This was a -17% drop in trading businesses.

It’s not all bad. The Statistia results show that the rebound saw the most significant growth since 2011. This left the industry positive 46 businesses compared to the high of 2020—an increase of 660 companies and a growth percentage of + 22%. The single most significant growth experienced in the industry on record going back to 2011.

What this Means to the UK Fitness Industry

It means that the market has recovered (in principle) within 12 months. The results confirm that the return en masse to Fitness Centres and Gyms, even during the economic downturn, has been notable and that they are bucking the trend with strong growth.

A spokesman at Mirafit said the boom of 2020/2021 in the Home Fitness market was unprecedented. Comparatively, the market has returned to previous levels. However, it still shows more significant numbers than before, both in terms of sales and searches, suggesting that more people are interested in fitness in the years after 2021. It confirms how the commercial market has been able to bounce back this quickly and how the home gym market continues to grow. In addition, the numbers prove that the nation has embraced fitness to a greater level than before and is supplementing this with memberships or equipment purchases. This is a positive situation for all involved within the Fitness Industry.

Strength Wins

It is clear that the industry will not be sidelined or slope off and stagnate, so strength wins. If you are involved with the fitness industry in the UK, then the chances are you are experiencing growth and the confidence to invest in your business, whether it’s an independent Gym or Gym chain. It is an exciting time to be opening a business or being involved with a fitness centre.

How important is the UK Fitness Market?

According to the ONS, there are 191,000 people employed in the sports & fitness sector. This equates to around 69,000 personal trainers and growing. Although this is 0.28 of the population of the UK, it reaches beyond those employed directly. It is fair to conclude it is very important.

How big is the Fitness Industry in the UK?

The UK fitness industry is extensive, and according to Future Fit, it has grown to £3.92 billion.

“Coupled with the rising number of mobile trainers and boot camps/outdoor fitness companies, it’s easy to see how the overall health and fitness industry has grown to £3.92 billion this year. With so many options now available as a fitness professional, there’s never been a better time to forge a career in such a rewarding sector” – futurefit.co.uk

Here we see the visibility results for the top 25 fitness equipment retailers gathered by salience.co.uk as part of their annual review. This takes into account the number of searches and the general visibility scores for each company, most showing a positive change from 2021 to 2022.

Why a growing fitness industry is important

Benefits to the user include;

  • A more extensive choice of gyms and fitness centres.
  • More professionals
  • More classes
  • More specialist gyms
  • More machine and equipment development
  • More reinvestment in the market

The positive uptick impacts the nation’s health.

As a nation, we are coming out of the other side of the 2021 regression stronger and with a desire to reflect on our health and well-being. This could also lead to fewer health issues from chronic conditions, but perhaps a few more trips to the Physiotherapist!

How else can this help the UK?

A healthy fitness industry has wider implications. It supports businesses such as; online retailers and high street shops with sales in sports apparel and accessories. In addition, it typically increases sales in healthy foods and supplements markets. Often feeling good, partners with looking good, and gym goers regularly use other local services such as hair salons, beauticians and coffee shops in these areas. Equipment sales increase for rackets, clubs and trainers, for example. When you consider all of the touch points in the network of businesses, service industries like taxi, cleaning, and maintenance companies are all set to benefit.


It remains a pragmatic time to be in the fitness industry, and there are a plethora of benefits to more fitness centres opening. It means more choice, competition and higher standards, which can only benefit gym goers.


The Fitness industry witnessed a catastrophic reverberation in 2021 for gyms and fitness centres, we lost some good businesses at the tail end of the pandemic. However, the positive outcome is that both the suppliers and the industry show a significant recovery level. Furthermore, it indicates that there are new opportunities for business in 2023, suggesting that the industry is effectively the strongest it’s been to date and will not be benched by previously forced closures and delays in opening or by the economic downturns experienced. We hope this article has helped answer essential questions for you.