A quarter of Gym Group sites are in areas of high physical inactivity
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A quarter of Gym Group sites are in areas of high physical inactivity

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Low-cost health club operator The Gym Group is placing itself at the heart of the war on inactivity, revealing that a quarter of its sites are placed in the most sedentary regions of the UK.

John Treharne, chief executive of The Gym Group, said the organisation was actively targeting areas of inactivity and traditional deprivation because of their “growth potential”.

“We’re very much appealing to the inactive,” Treharne told Health Club Management.

“Our system is totally classless – that’s the whole basis of our operation. We’ve appealed right across the social spectrum, whether you’re a millionaire or on benefits it doesn’t matter in a low-cost gym environment.”

He said that offering people “value for money” and a flexible opening hours meant that people who weren’t traditionally into fitness and sport were being enticed through the doors.

In fact, according to Treharne, 34 per cent of The Gym Group’s current membership base has “never been to a gym before”.

He added: “If people commit to joining pre-opening they can get membership for £10.99 per month. That’s very affordable.

“But going beyond that our 24/7 operation is attracting very different type of people who find the traditional opening hours very restrictive.”

As a result, 15 per cent of usage in the chain’s larger gyms comes between 10pm and 6am.

Treharne said that he was encouraged by calls for more gyms in the high street to fight against the growing inactivity epidemic, but said the main issues were not around planning but rental rates.

Earlier this month, ukactive chair Tanni Grey-Thompson said that “archaic” town planning laws were blocking fitness businesses from having a presence on the high street.

However, Treharne explained: “It’s encouraging but I’m not sure I totally agree with all the argument given because it’s not just about planning.

“Rental rates are part of the problem with town centre rates being higher.”

The CEO added: “We’ve opened 89 gyms and we’ve very rarely come across a planning issue. The key for us is the financial metrics around the operation.”

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Low-cost health club operator The Gym Group is placing itself at the heart of the war on inactivity, revealing that a quarter of its sites are placed in the most sedentary regions of the UK.
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JP Lennard
JP Lennard