Gym fees set to fall — experts

I was really pleased to read this week that gym prices are set to fall over the coming year. Now I’ve got a few limits to my gym-visiting potential (aka babies), I’m reluctant to pay high monthly fees.But a new report highlights the reasons why many established gym chains, and new contenders, may be offering their facilities at a reduced cost.

Industry expert Ray Algar, who works for Oxygen Consulting, predicts a sharp rise in «low-cost, high technology self-service gyms» over the course of this year. These new brands will put pressure on existing gyms to alter their service, cut fees, or both.

The future of well-known gyms such as LA Fitness, Fitness First and Bannatyne will be threatened, and their market share will be squeezed. Algar says these brands must be very precise about their business models.

«The rise of the low-cost gym sector continues to re-shape the UK health and fitness industry,» Algar says.

«This means the established mid-market clubs are having to re-invent themselves to remain relevant to very savvy consumers who increasingly are very clear on what they need and value. As I say in the report, change is hard, really hard, but running an irrelevant business is no fun at all.»

To survive the threat of «new generation» gyms, mid-market chains may need to return to more personal services and instructors, specialist facilities and even edging into the premium market, in order to justify their charges.

This competitive pressure may be bad news for the big brands, but for people like me who can’t make a regular commitment to exercising yet enjoy the gym environment (rather than pounding the pavements outside) the disruption to the industry is simply good news.

Who knows, it may encourage reluctant exercisers to start new regimes, and even boost the nation’s overall fitness.