One in every seven people in the UK are now a member of a gym and according to the “2018 state of UK fitness” report, UK gyms are enjoying a ‘Golden Age’, with the number of facilities up from 6,728 to 7,038 and an increased £4.9 billion in market value.
You don’t need to read these types of reports to know that the fitness and health club industry is on a continuing growth path and that an exciting future lies ahead, for both budget and premium fitness businesses. Stroll along any high street and you will encounter a shop that has been replaced by a gym. Offering high spec equipment, no hefty membership fees, the convenience of 24 hour accessibility and the ability to join online and on-site, allows people to begin their fitness journey within minutes.
The prediction is that the fitness sector will continue to break all barriers as the consumer gets easier access, with more personalisation, localisation and easier sign-up and payment options. With bricks and mortar retail increasingly under pressure and store closures in evidence daily across many UK towns, these new gyms also breathe life into struggling high streets. They can absorb vacant shops and help save high street communities that would otherwise face the risk of turning into ghost towns.
Businesses like PureGym are perfectly placed to take over vacant space near transport hubs and on UK high streets, with a model that has helped them become the first operator to reach 200 clubs and impressively pass the one million-member mark in 2018, with no signs of slowing down.
Naturally, transforming an old retail or business space into a suitable fitness hub, requires necessary design management, development management and cost expertise. When combined, these go a long way in supporting business such as PureGym and helping to ensure that their expansion is not compromised by poor time keeping on delivery of roll-outs, or being at risk from poorly managed budgets.
Various factors come into play, where good PM and QS services can prove invaluable in helping deliver an expansion programme. A recent example of this for us has been a change of use from office space into a PureGym, that required extensive negotiations with the landlord and a structural engineer, to overcome weight-loading issues – vital, when considering that gym equipment is far heavier than office furniture.
A solution involving a new floor sub-structure and additional support to the existing structure, ensured that the building was safe and fit for its new purpose. Other factors overseen by a project manager include acoustics and soundproofing and also the strength and suitability of floor surfaces and how these will withstand impact.
Then there is planning, signage and being the key negotiator between client and contractor. Because some gyms are open 24 hours, safety is paramount and has a different set of building regulations, such as remote monitored CCTV, panic alarms, help points and the correct implementation of all fire and safety requirements.
Brand consistency is paramount and it is the role of the PM and QS to ensure that such consistency is provided through efficient communication with contractors. Similarly, because multiple sites are often underway simultaneously, a PM and QS can apply their learnings from one contractor to another, instilling best practice across all.
One might argue the need for external support, if the client already has their own in-house PM? To this our answer is simply that through collaboration with an internal and external PM and QS, a greater pool of experience and knowledge will be brought to bear, providing greater savings through their efficiencies and contract negotiations. In our experience a good QS and PM can save you more than they cost!
The opportunity to develop and meet the increasing demands of today’s fitness market is vast and whilst competition is strong, there is ample room for change, diversity and progression in years to come. There truly has never been a more inspiring and rewarding time to invest in fitness.
To find out more about our service offer, please visit www.therpagroup.com