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How Gyms Can Pump Up The North West High Street


Vanity or health? You decide. But whatever the motive behind the gym craze, it is changing high streets in the North West, according to new data from Colliers International.

The gym presence on UK high streets increased by 15% in just two years, the broker's UK Health & Fitness Market analysis reveals.

The North West of England has the fourth highest concentration of gyms in the UK, with 40 gyms per 1 million households, placing it behind Greater London, the South East and West Midlands with 85, 42 and 41 gyms per 1 million households respectively in a table of 11 UK regions.

The dominant gym brand in the North West was PureGym, which operates 28 sites across the region. New operators like Xercise4Less are seeking space in city centres and elsewhere.

Colliers reported that gyms opening in high street locations across the UK rose from 317 to 365 between 2017 and 2019, representing a 15% increase in health and fitness facilities in this type of location.

Of those brands increasing their high street presence the fastest were budget gym operators The Gym (portfolio up 75%), Anytime Fitness (up 32%) and PureGym (up 28%) over the two-year period.

Gyms have colonised former retail units, basement offices and purpose-built spaces in mixed-use developments, as well as space on business, retail and leisure parks.

Pay-per-class studio gym concepts now account for more than 42% of all gyms via specialist providers such as Barry’s Bootcamp in Manchester and Barrecore in Hale and Alderley Edge.

“In theory, the strength of the UK’s gym market could provide the perfect ‘white knight’ to the ailing high street retail sector," Colliers Head of UK Leisure Agency Ross Kirton said. "However, landlords and occupiers alike must ensure that expansion is undertaken in a sustainable way that matches the right gym model with the right location and the right demographic to avoid oversupply.”