LONDON, United Kingdom — New data plotted by fitness tech platform MINDBODY suggests the wellness landscape in the UK is shifting, as businesses find a captive audience far away from the sector’s stronghold in London.
Last year Barry’s Bootcamp, Lululemon and Veggie Pret ventured north to Manchester while Australian fitness franchise F45 has been rapidly sweeping across the nation, hoping to tap into a previously uncatered regional market.
Now new research from MINDBODY suggests the capital is no longer the only area thriving with fitness and wellness businesses.
Submitting freedom of information requests to councils across the UK, MINDBODY identified areas with the highest and lowest volume of fitness and wellness facilities, revealing surprising pockets of saturation and high demand across the country.
Straddling the Irish Sea and the Lake District in the northeast, Allerdale, Cumbria scored highest, recording 137 fitness and wellness businesses per capita, including amenities such as gyms, leisure centres, studios and swimming pools.
This was more than twice the number of runners up St Albans in Hertfordshire (58) and the City of Westminster in London (51), suggesting the region, near the action-adventure Mecca of Lake Windermere, is a prime spot for fitness and wellness providers.
At the other end of the spectrum, Tandridge in East Surrey (1), Croydon in South London (2) and Northamptonshire in the East Midlands (2) were found to offer the lowest volume of operating businesses, but also, the greatest potential for growth.
“Although the data suggests an area like Croydon offers double the wellness businesses for every resident, it remains a ‘growth area’ when compared with somewhere like Cumbria, which has 137 wellness businesses for everyone who lives there,” a spokesperson for MINDBODY confirmed.
Significantly, London only featured once in the top ten, with the northeast (Gateshead), Midlands (Warwick and Erewash), Suffolk (Ipswich), Surrey (Epsom and Ewell) and the south coast (Brighton and Hove) all scoring highly.
Commenting on the findings Charlotte Newton, Senior Manager EMEA Marketing at MINDBODY, says: “We know from our data and from speaking with our customers that the fitness landscape is constantly evolving. London’s boutique fitness market is booming, but this is now something we’re seeing spread across the country.
“Whilst those markets with the highest number of fitness and wellness businesses suggest a high level of consumer demand and awareness, it’s also important to look at those areas with fewer businesses, as this could indicate more opportunity for growth in the market.”
Delving deeper into the findings, Kevin Teague, MD and SVP MINDBODY, EMEA believes the data reveals a sea change in the trajectory of the industry in the UK.
“There is a huge opportunity outside of London for a successful boutique model to exist,” says Teague, highlighting the example of Manchester and urging fitness operators wanting to grow fast to look beyond the capital.
“Outside of London, where a staggering 67,690 classes were booked each month, Manchester booked the highest number of classes in England – over 7,000 per month on average. That’s a huge 63% increase YoY,” he adds.
According to Teague, regions with the highest growth of bookings YoY since January 2017, are Wakefield (2,172%), Cardiff (157%), Liverpool (128%), Southampton (124%), Brighton (80%), Northern Ireland (73%), Plymouth (68%) and then Manchester.
“The continued growth of the industry, whether it’s in London or throughout the UK, will ultimately rely on the creativity and imagination of the industry. Identify what works for you and your business and focus on that, rather than trying to adapt to every new demand, as that isn’t feasible.
“Define your USP and work on making this as impactful as it can be, speaking with your customers to work out what they want, so you can best meet their needs.”
Ultimately the new MINDBODY data suggests London still holds a disproportionate share of the wellness market. More than two-thirds of the 283,193 wellness sessions that are booked using the MINDBODY app, on average each month in the UK and Ireland, are made in the capital.
However, the overall trend is up 39% year on year. And as MINDBODY data suggests, the rest of the country is catching up fast.