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UK gyms have taken a £2.3bn pandemic pummelling

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Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
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LONDON, ENGLAND  - DECEMBER 02: People are seen using the gym at Brixton Recreation Centre on December 2, 2020 in London, England. Last night MPs voted in favour of government proposals to enter England into a tiered system of lockdown beginning at midnight. Residents of Tier Two - High Alert can socialise with anyone they live with or who is in their support bubble in any indoor setting, whether at home or in a public place. Outdoors they must observe the rule of six. Pubs and bars must close, unless operating as restaurants. Hospitality venues can only serve alcohol with substantial meals and must close between 11pm and 5am with last orders called at 10pm. Organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes will be permitted if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with. Schools remain open. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)
Gym bosses are concerned that the larger businesses are burning an average of £500,000 per day under lockdowns. Photo: Peter Summers/Getty Images

UK gyms have collectively taken a £2.3bn ($3.2bn) hit to their revenue since the start of the pandemic, with more losses expected to be on the way.

According to calculations made by Pharma Nord another £46.6m will have been lost by the 1,164,000 people who it would have expected to join in January 2021.

Gyms have been among the worst hit businesses during the pandemic, and many have been shut for a large portion of the last year, as fears of spreading the virus led to widespread lockdowns. The loss of monthly subscriptions and unused investments in COVID-secure equipment has been costly.

While fitness clubs can vary in price, the Money Advice Service suggests that the average membership fee is about £40 every month. Meanwhile, gyms are usually given an extra boost during January. Health orientated New Year’s resolutions mean that 12% of all new members join in the first month of the year alone.

Based on this rationale, Pharma Nord estimates that pre-COVID, gyms would typically make £388m every month.

The revelations come following concerns from gym bosses that the larger chains are burning an average of £500,000 per day under lockdowns.

In February, budget franchise PureGym told the BBC it had calculated the average cost over eight months of closure to tot up to half a million pounds.

READ MORE: UK gym bosses voice concern over '£500,000 a day' lockdown cash burn

The Gym Group (GYM.L) also recently announced that its monthly cash burn during the current COVID-19 lockdown is £5m, while the November closures cost £6m. The group said that 45% of last year’s trading days had been lost due to government restrictions.

While £300m in support was offered up for sports in the most recent budget by chancellor Rishi Sunak, the government has come under intense pressure to say what it can give to leisure centres, gyms and pools, with the industry body ukactive saying around 400 facilities have already gone to the wall and another 2,400 are at risk.

Recent reports pointed out that private gyms will qualify for a new £18,000 Restart Grant. However, Rebecca Passmore, the managing director of PureGym, which has 275 sites and around 1 million members in the UK, said much more help was needed.

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Further details, including how the government cash will be distributed, how organisations can apply and timeframes, are set to be announced in the coming weeks. Allocations will be made in accordance to need and will reflect the financial circumstance of each individual sport.

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