European Gyms Near Complete Pandemic Recovery


Post-pandemic, Europeans are returning to gyms — but to some more than others.

What’s happening: According to a new report from Deloitte, 2022 was the strongest year for European gyms and studios since the pandemic began.

  • From 2021–2022, gym memberships in Europe gained 12.3%, from 56.2M to 63.1M.
  • Market revenues increased by 66% to €28B, nearly back to 2019’s high of €28.2B.
  • The number of gyms in the continent rose by 0.5% from 63.5K to 63.8K.

Far removed from the “gympocalypse” of 2020, the number of people hitting the gym is almost back to pre-COVID levels, and many operators are in expansion mode to accommodate an expected 100M European gym-goers by 2030.

Setting the pace. Low-cost chains catering to cash-strapped consumers have seen the biggest spike in members, with an acceleration in the rollout of new sites helping to generate double-digit growth.

  • Fueled by 185 new openings in 2022, Basic-Fit’s membership surged 51% YoY to top 3.3M, with the brand forecasting €1B+ in revenue and 200+ openings in 2023.
  • Having increased members by 8% to 1.66M, and revenue by 58% to €557M, the UK’s PureGym is also expanding, targeting 1K+ gyms by 2030.
  • Partially inflated by extended lockdown policies, France-based Fitness Park saw 33% YoY member growth and a 72% jump in revenue, with 2023 expansion plans including its first clubs in Morocco.

Pumping the brakes. But, as current macroeconomic pressures reprioritise consumer spending––and skyrocket operating costs––other top performers are being forced to act with caution.

Despite posting an increase in members and revenue, Norway’s SATS Group hit the brakes on its expansion, thwarted by a rising cost base. The Gym Group is also taking “a more measured approach” following a recent dip in membership growth and projected revenues dented by ongoing cost increases.

Taking stock, premium operator David Lloyd shuttered its standalone studio Blaze as part of a consolidation effort and, while unmentioned in the report, Fitness First is restructuring, rumoured to be closing up to 10 UK clubs.

Exercising their options. Driving the gym business, consumers have been reluctant to relinquish their gym memberships, with Deloitte’s survey indicating fitness club and sporting activities were the least likely to be cut from daily expenditures.

Looking closer at preferences, while the cohort that exclusively works out at home fell 4% last year (against 1% gains from gym and outdoor activities), those reporting getting physical activity from a combination of the three saw the largest jump, spiking 9% YoY.

Looking ahead: It’s evident that even against a tougher financial backdrop, many consumers regard gym membership as essential. But with purse strings still tightening, gyms will need to demonstrate even greater value–– across cost, convenience, and community––to get back into pre-pandemic shape.

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