The UK Fitness Industry seems in good health, shame the nation isn’t!

Estimates put the value of the UK fitness industry at over £4 billion…and it’s showing no signs of slowing as that figure is expected to grow. A report in 2014 suggested year on year increases of 3.9% in value, 1.5% in the number of facilities for fitness activities, and a 4.5% increase in member numbers.

It is thought that one of the biggest drivers for this growth is the increase in accessibility bought about by increased low cost options. In fact, the low cost sector saw growth in the same three key areas outlined above, but outperforming the industry average with an eye-watering 18.7% increase in private sector membership.

As ever, figures such as this need to be looked at in perspective, and stats will only ever tell you quantifiable details, while not addressing key issues. One of which being that despite these growth figures, the overall health and well-being of the nation seems not to be improving, in fact, it is getting worse. The UK currently tops the EU’s ‘obesity league table’, and leaving the EU won’t change this! Obesity levels in the UK have trebled in 30 years, and if current trends continue it is thought that half…yes, HALF the population of the UK could be obese. As an interesting comparison, the cost of obesity to the NHS is around £5 billion a year, so £1 billion more than the value of the whole UK fitness industry, understandably a significant cause for concern.

The reason for this is a combination of dietary habits and a move towards a more service based economy meaning a reduction in the amount of physical activity done on a daily basis. Not only has work life become less physically demanding, but increase in convenience in the home also contributes, whether it is in food production or ‘smart’ functions meaning we can control everything from our phones.  It all means we can do more, and move less.

Information from NHS Digital, the department responsible for statistical data for health and social care, shows that during weekdays 69% of people classed as obese spent 4 hours or more sitting or lying down compared with 58% in those not categorised either overweight or obese. What was also interesting is that this figure rose at weekends to 75%, compared to 70% in non-overweight people. Although the margins are relatively small, it is clearly having an impact.

 

Low-cost Fitness

It is perhaps encouraging therefore that the fastest growing area of the fitness sector is the low cost options, increasing accessibility to people who previously were priced out of the market.  This is exactly why we started lovetheburn.com and our desire to make Personal Training more accessible to more people is higher than ever.

At lovetheburn.com, we know that working out with a PT is far more effective than working out alone or even with a training partner. Encouraging higher activity levels in an increasingly sedate population is challenging, but needs to continue along with a new approach to increase dietary education.

 However, this is not new. There have been attempts to raise awareness of the levels of sugar and fat in foods for a long time, with efforts made to try and encourage people to make informed

choices with food purchasing. Unfortunately, whatever people may read about eating more healthily, the power of the food industries marketing is overwhelming, and more memorable. I imagine more people can remember a Coca-Cola advert than an article or TV program about the dangers of sugar. Add to this, a 2011 study by the University of East Anglia showed that supermarkets are more likely to promote unhealthy foods, with foods on special offer 20% more likely to have ‘red’ traffic lights for high sugar, and 50% more likely to have high fat content compared to non-promoted products. The reason is simple, the manufacturers of these products don’t care about our health, they care about sales.

None of this is helped by the mixed messages that are thrown at us, whether it is to avoid carbs, starve ourselves for two days a week but eat what we like the rest, or live on quinoa, bean sprouts and water. People get understandably confused, and are left with the easiest option, do nothing.

As ever, the clearest messages is that a balanced diet, with a regular exercise regime, is the way to ensure a healthier lifestyle and keep to a sensible weight. In terms of exercise, it’s about finding something you enjoy doing with some one you enjoy doing it with, and embracing it.  With lovetheburn.com you can try as many workouts with as many PTs as you want – and no need to complete lots of questionnaires and the same forms with each one.