PureGym Plans Over-50s Fitness Championships

Pure Gym wants to take the age stigma out of fitness competitions.

What’s happening: One of Europe’s largest gym operators, with 1.5M members and over 500 clubs, PureGym will host a fitness competition solely for the over 50s on 7 September at its London Swiss Cottage club.

There are two events overall. The first tests strength on the bench press, front squat and deadlift, while the second combines endurance, power, and mobility by mixing up running, rowing, and functional exercises.

Silver linings. Evidenced by HYROX’s sold-out events and growing racing calendar, demand for indoor fitness racing is growing – across all age groups.

According to Stephen Rowe, chief marketing officer at PureGym, the goal is a strong signal of inclusivity supporting existing members as well as attracting new signups.

“We wanted to create an event that would celebrate those in their fifties and beyond who are already active, and inspire those who are worried they are too old to get started.”

Golden Years

A growing market, private expenditure of those aged 50+ will be worth €5.7T to Europe’s economy by 2025.

With more disposable income, operators can tap into the developing segment by tailoring events and schemes to be more senior-centric.

Colin Milner, CEO and founder of the International Council on Active Aging, calls it a Healthy Aging Revolution and confirms the trend is growing:

“Whether standalone clubs for 50+ or existing club chains like Life Time Fitness, or virtually every segment of the market (YMCAs, parks and rec, senior centres, etc), older adult fitness and wellness is a trend driven by need, aspiration and capacity to pay for services.”

As fitness opportunities expand, health experts are positioning movement as critical for preventative health and reducing the burden on health services.

Zooming out. WHO reported that physical inactivity will result in 500M people worldwide developing a preventable NCD (noncommunicable disease), at a cost of US$300B, by 2050 if nothing changes. Moreover, just 150 minutes of weekly exercise would prevent 10K premature deaths annually, and yet only 21% of those aged 55+ are likely to be regular exercisers.

On becoming chair of ukactive, Mike Farrar – formerly chief executive of the NHS Confederation – said physical activity should be at the “heart of the NHS”. And for ageing populations, movement as medicine is finally showing signs of progress in the UK.

  • Northern Ireland’s Move More Live More strength and balance project is gaining traction, using wearables to detect fall risks and plot preventative interventions.
  • With musculoskeletal conditions costing the NHS £5B per year, the British government pledged to scale up the UK’s 100 pilot MSK hubs.
  • GM Active and Innerva, power-assisted exercise machine specialists, have partnered to amplify older adults engaging in physical activity in the gym setting.

Bottom line: PureGym’s over-50s championships evidence a shift in the mainstream, and by welcoming applicants in their 80s and 90s, reminds society that exercise is for everyone.

But as the needs of the aged population grows larger than movement-as-medicine solutions, more precise age segmentation is needed – breaking down barriers of ageism and affordability while adapting to a spectrum of generational differences.

Global health and fitness news, straight to your inbox.

Join a community of 20K+ industry operators and investors.

    No thanks.