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Total Fitness reveals latest membership numbers

Total Fitness announced membership figures are back to pre-COVID-19 levels
Eight clubs out of fifteen now have more members than they did before the pandemic
Majority of new members surveyed said a swimming pool impacted their choice of health club
Total Fitness has also launched new small group training Squad Sessions for four members at a time
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As we hit the 12-month mark since re-opening I’m really pleased to have returned to our pre-pandemic membership levels
Sophie Lawler, CEO at Total Fitness
Credit: Total Fitness

Total Fitness says its membership numbers are back to pre-COVID-19 levels.

With fifteen clubs in the north of England, the company said eight sites – Altrincham, Bolton, Lincoln, Preston, Sefton, Wakefield, Walkden and Wigan – are exceeding pre-pandemic figures.

According to a survey, around 48 per cent of new members have joined from a budget-level gym facility and 79 per cent of those surveyed said the facility having a swimming pool had the biggest influence on their choice of health club.

“As we hit the 12-month mark since re-opening I’m really pleased to have returned to our pre-pandemic membership levels – it’s a really great endorsement of our members’ commitments to their fitness journeys following what was a national awakening to the importance of physical (and mental) fitness and resilience,” said CEO, Sophie Lawler.

“While the case for fitness clubs is clear (and this is reflected in the demand for our clubs), the economic case is also quite astonishing. New research released by Deloitte and IHRSA concludes that every inactive worker costs the UK economy £1400 per year which is something I think we can all do something about by choosing to live a more active lifestyle.

In a high-variety mid-market offering like ours we do our best to provide as many ways to work out as possible, because we know that keeping fit isn’t always easy even when you know it’s good for you.”

During the lockdowns Total Fitness lost around 20 per cent of its members and had to go through a CVA. In an exclusive interview with HCM in 2021, Lawler explained how the CVA was a strategic decision that was the right decision for the business at the time.

“We needed to restore the financial strength of the business on re-opening in a way that put it in the best possible position to recover well, quickly and sustainably, despite having fewer members,” said Lawler.

“While arrangements like ours can be viewed as ‘rescues’ – and there is an element of that, of course – a CVA is also a strategic decision that’s designed to protect an otherwise great business that’s otherwise good and sustainable and that has earned its place. And for me, Total Fitness absolutely fitted that bill. We owed it to ourselves, our partners, our members and our stakeholders. It was the right thing to do and we’re in a much better position as a result.”

According to Lawler the CVA restructuring gave them “air cover to keep reinvesting” because their cost base was “re-geared with the support of people such as our landlords, suppliers and partners”.

As a result, the chain was able to rebuild its IT infrastructure during lockdown and refurbish some of the clubs.

In the same interview Lawler said that “growth and new products” were the way forward for Total Fitness and hinted that a signature small group workout would be coming in 2022.

This new arrival, called Squad Sessions, has just launched. A workout with four members to a session, activities include cardio on SkiErgs and Assault bikes, and strength training on dumbbells, kettlebells, and slam balls.

In terms of growth, Lawler said she intends to open new clubs that offer a different concept to Total Fitness and that the facilities would also open up a new markets in the south of England.

“These won’t be a replica of huge Total Fitness clubs – they will be smaller facilities and very different from what we have now – but they will clearly be Total Fitness clubs thanks to the purpose, intent and fitness philosophy that will be integral to any new models we bring through,” she said.

“In terms of where those clubs might be, I’m a huge believer in northern markets, and a huge believer in the middle market, and there’s a lot of white space here. But we’ll also be looking to the south, because we’re under-represented there, and I believe we have a responsibility to serve that middle market segment.”

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Total Fitness says its membership numbers are back to pre-COVID-19 levels.