In a major headline figure for operators, nearly 90 per cent of consumers say they intend to spend the same or more on being active as we come out of lockdown.
Researchers found 82.3 per cent of people in the UK are prepared to spend the same on being active and 7.5 per cent prepared to spend more after lockdown, making a positive total of 89.8 per cent. Only 10.2 per cent said they intend to spend less.
These are some of the headline numbers from new research by Leisure-net, which gathered one of the largest consumer samples ever constructed to tap the mood of the nation as we come out of lockdown.
The National Post Recovery Lockdown Recovery Survey, undertaken in partnership with Max Associates and 4Global’s Datahub, assembled a sample of over 65,000 consumers, who aired their views on activity.
When it comes to participation, 88 per cent of people in the UK say they will use gyms and leisure centres ‘more’ or ‘the same’ when they reopen, with only 8 per cent saying they will use them less and 4 per cent saying they will not return.
Some of this will be spread across different operators types, as the research showed people also intend to continue to exercise outside.
Analysts say it appears some of those that are more active now are finding alternative forms of exercise, by undertaking their own activity either indoors or outside and intend to continue this in the future as part of their exercise regime, while those who have been less active are waiting for their leisure centres and clubs to re-open.
Lisa Forsyth, director of Max Associates, says: “In the period after reopening with social distancing, operators will have to consider how they facilitate this additional demand from members.
“Capacities are likely to be reduced due to social distancing, while operators are also working to ‘regrow’ income from those members that cancel.
“Operators who can activate their parks and green spaces and provide good routes for active transport may be able to entice the self-motivated to outdoor workouts, providing space for those who prefer motivation from instructors and social aspects of the gym and classes.”
The team is the biggest thing members and customers missed by quite some margin – 45.8 per cent said they were ‘missing motivation from gym and class instructors’, while 11.1 per cent were ‘missing instruction from sports and swimming coaches’ – a total for the positive impact of staff of 59.6 per cent.
This correlates with research released last week by Datahub/4global, which shows that group exercise will be one of the first parts of the fitness offering to recover.
Other things missed by consumers have been socialising, at 33.3 per cent and competitive sport at 12.8 per cent.
While men and women are very similar in terms of reporting their reopening usage, people in younger age groups say they are four times more likely to use their centres and clubs more when they open, compared to the oldest age groups.
When questioned, 21.6 per cent reported being more active or significantly more active during lockdown and 26.5 per cent ‘about the same’, making a score on the positive side of 48.1 per cent.
In the other camp, 33 per cent said they had been less active and 19 per cent significantly less active, making a negative score of 52 per cent, and with this inactivity being weighted more towards gym users and swimmers.
In the ‘more active’ camp, more of the additional activity was undertaken by people in the 45-64-year-old age groups, with women having been more active than men. Around 24 per cent of them said they’ve undertaken more activity compared to 18 per cent of men.
There are also regional differences in how people have been choosing to exercise, with 72 per cent of people nationally walking, against 68 per cent in London.
With so many operators pivoting to digital and offering streaming, online and live classes, researchers asked consumers, “Would you be more likely to go back to the gym it offered online classes as part of the membership offer?”
In answer to this question 18.9 said ‘yes definitely’, 49.3 per cent said ‘perhaps/maybe’ and 31.9 per cent ‘definitely not’, making a positive result of nearly 70 per cent and indicating that digital has been a great investment for gyms and something that is likely to merit further development as an engagement tool.
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To get a free copy of the Leisure-net report summary or order a copy of the full report (£100 + VAT), contact David Monkhouse at Leisure-net.