Fit out

Pamela Buxton gives us a healthy dose of the latest concepts that are aiming to improve our lifestyle

Fitness is no fad. It’s a thriving industry worth at least £1.25bn. According to the latest Mintel statistics it is showing no signs of slowing down.

During the past five years, the market grew by 81 per cent with membership of private fitness clubs up 49 per cent over the same period to £2.44m. Market saturation, says Mintel, is still some two to four years away. Research of nearly 4000 consumers found that 21 per cent of adults do not yet use fitness clubs, but would like to.

Established players are investing in their clubs to widen their offer and new entrants are seeking to carve out distinct market positions. In this, design is crucial to gain market definition. At the upper end of the sector, for example, Holmes Place is planning a busy expansion campaign of 20 to 25 new European clubs over the next five years. Architects such as Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, ORMS and Walters and Cohen have been commissioned to create contemporary customised solutions in fit-outs costing between £2m and £3m.

Design is also key to the strategy behind three new concepts being launched this year. All are very different to the “bird on a bike” approach to fitness marketing that still dominates, says Mark Nicholls, director of Clinic. Nicholls came up with the New York-style, industrial concept for Virgin’s new Pure Fitness sub-brand of the Virgin Active health clubs. Recently opened in Manchester, it is aimed at the young, muscle-eager city-dweller keen to get in and out of the gym as fast as possible in order to get on with work or socialising.

At the opposite end of the design spectrum is Naked, a more indulgent, pampering offer which promises everything from mother-and-baby yoga to kick-boxing. And in the middle will be Boots The Chemists’ first fitness centre, which aims to capitalise on customer trust in its brand to build up a chain of non-threatening health-and-fitness centres. With such a buoyant fitness market, there should be plenty of room for all three concepts.

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