HCM_Handbook_2020

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EDITOR’S LETTER

Welcome to the HCM Handbook 2O20 At this unprecedented time, when almost two thirds of the world’s health and fitness clubs have closed and around 230 million members are unable to attend their regular place of exercise, how is the health and fitness industry weathering the storm? Although undeniably challenged by COVID-19, the first quarter showed promising growth. Fitness clubs and instructors swiftly embraced digital fitness, reaching out to members with apps and online classes, driven by a strong message to stay active. Launched by The Leisure Database Company, a new global fitness data platform called fitNdata is monitoring the effects of lockdown by combining real-time supply data with consumer fitness data. Researchers are busy exploring the applicability of fitness wearables to measure potential precursors of symptoms (noticeable increase in respiratory rate or body temperature) to inform wearers of their health status, even if asymptomatic, to help stem the spread. The UK Government has stepped in to alleviate financial hardship with its Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme, throwing a lifeline to around 60,000 people in the sport and physical activity sector. Although it may

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fall short for those with less than 12 months’ trading and directors of small limited companies, CIMSPA, ukactive and Community Leisure UK have teamed up to call for clarity. As the year unfolds, we’ll bear witness to more new measures, so let’s now step back to summarise the state of the sector in 2019. The European fitness industry was marked by a period of growth, with total revenues at clubs across the continent rising by 3.1 per cent on 2018, driven by a 2.3 per cent rise in the number of facilities and a 3.8 per cent boost in memberships. Germany strengthened its position as the country with the highest number of gym members, while Norway and Sweden ranked highest for market penetration. M&A activity continued, with 17 major transactions in the operator market, and continued consolidation resulted in the top 30 European fitness club operators representing more than a quarter of all memberships. Confidence in reaching the industry goal of 80 million members in Europe by 2025 remains strong. On the back of this solid foundation, let’s embrace 2020 as the year we pulled together to stay active, stay safe. Helen Patenall, editor, HCM Handbook

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