• Farringdon has the top potential for new gym openings in Central London
  • Budget gyms almost double in one year
  • Competition for space is pushing up rents for budget gyms 19%
  • Popularity of unique gym offerings in London likely to spill over to Manchester

With Christmas now over and New Years health-resolutions already in full swing, latest research reveals that London’s residents and workers are increasingly swapping the bar for barre fitness classes. This is driving significant growth in the city’s gym market according to global real estate advisor, Colliers International.

The “Central London Gym Review” explores how the composition of the London gym market is changing and reveals that London’s gym offering is not only growing 21 per cent year on year, but also found that Central London could support an additional 30 new gyms (a further 26 per cent growth) based on the current worker to gym ratio alone.

Farringdon, Clerkenwell, Shoreditch, Aldgate and Victoria are identified as having the greatest potential to support new gym openings.  Farringdon, where last year Gymbox opened its 42,000 sq ft flagship gym, has potential to support at least 10 additional full gyms or 20 studios based on a current ratio of 56,000 workers per gym in 2016, compared to the optimum of 24,600 workers per gym.

Ross Kirton, Head of UK Leisure Agency, commented: “It is pleasing to note that there is scope for many more gyms in the capital given the number of exciting new concepts keen to take representation.  London has been dominated by the mid-market sector for a number of years, but landlords and consumers are now finally able to benefit from unique offers giving genuine choice.”

Much of the growth in the number of gyms can be attributed to the rapid increase in the number of budget operators.  Brands such as PureGym have exploded onto the London scene, with almost half of the clubs operating under this model having opened in 2016 (46 per cent).

“Once the preserve of regional towns and cities, budget gym operators have cast aside concerns of rent affordability in London and are catering to the large number of customers who are keen to swap expensive monthly memberships in favour of no frill concepts.”  explains Kirton.

Surprisingly, despite their low cost model, budget operators are typically paying 19 per cent, or £2.50 per sq ft, more for space than their mid-market counterparts.

Dan Taylor, Head of Retail Lease Advisory at Colliers International commented that; “Strong demand from the budget sector has driven rental values on recent lettings in Central London. As such, we anticipate this to filter across the market in rent reviews over the next few years delivering welcome growth to landlords.”

Specialist studio concepts have also grown by 30 per cent in the capital, in part driven by the successful adoption of a flexible membership structure and unique fitness offering.  Examples include credit based approaches at studios such as 1Rebel, Psycle and KOBOX.

“The studio concept has really taken off in London as customers look to step off the treadmill and do something a bit more interesting during their work out or learn a new skill such as Barre or Boxing. London is just the beginning for these operators and we can expect to see more studio concepts launching elsewhere in the UK alongside luxury gyms, beginning in Manchester and Cheshire,” said Kirton.

While the research revealed rapid growth in the budget sector in the capital, it also highlights a broadening at the premium end with a number of luxury concepts growing.  American superbrand, Equinox, has committed to their second London site and Virgin Active Collection and Third Space are both looking to grow their concepts in the capital which benefit from specialist offers including altitude conditioned studios, climbing walls and bespoke functional fitness equipment through to dedicated member laundry and ironing services and nutritional advice and food counter.   

Kirton concludes; “In a market where many occupiers are rightsizing their space requirements and landlords are all too keen to maximise value from their real estate, we believe that the gym market offers a long term secure income which can be an attractive complementary use to many buildings.”