Active Britain – are your sports facilities on trend for 2020?

3rd Dec 2019

After a string of fantastic events in the last few months, we’ve been busy collecting our thoughts and looking ahead to 2020.

This year’s UKActive National Summit was – as always – incredibly insightful, with an array of impressive speakers, including some of Great Britain’s finest Paralympians and Olympians (Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, Anthony Ogogo) and notable figures from the world of sport, health and wellbeing.

What did the UKActive National Summit 2019 cover?

The UK Active National Summit agenda well and truly reflected the state of physical activity in modern Britain, covering everything from the role of physical health in the workplace, to combatting youth violence – and even how physical activity might play a part in regenerating Britain’s high streets!

The importance of exercise  and its impact on so many areas of life across the UK was clear to see, with thought provoking insight on sporting facilities and how ‘place’ –  what facilities are available, and where – can encourage physical activity.

Crunching Numbers – what can leisure operators learn for 2020?

Alongside the summit, UKActive’s Research Institute also released their 3rd Annual “Moving Communities: Active Leisure Trends 2019 Report”, their most comprehensive report yet, comprised of data from over 500 leisure sites across the UK.

Whilst it’s an engaging read, we know you may not have time to read all 23 pages, so here are some of the key points you’ll want to know:

  • Visits to leisure centres are falling

There’s been a 5% decline in annual visits to leisure centres from FY17 to FY19, with total visits for 2019’s financial year at just under 80 million.

  • Weekends are out – nearly

The most popular day of the week for visits is Tuesday, with the least popular day for visits being Saturday. However, it’s worth noting that non-members (pay-as-you-go) are much more likely to visit on a weekend (32%) than members (20%). 

  • Early birds and night owls are ruling the roost

There are two clear spikes in visits based on the time of day, early morning (9-10am) and late evening (6pm).

  • Age is no barrier

The average age of membership has slowly increased in the last 3 years, now standing at 41 years 2 months.

  • Almost equal gender split

The gender skew for membership is 54% female and 46% male, with female visitors more likely to take part in group activity, and male visitors more likely to focus on individual fitness (gym visits)

  • Core three remain unshaken

Remaining consistent across the last three years have been the main three ‘core’ activities visitors take part in at leisure centres: swimming, fitness (gym) and group workouts.

  • Courting new members

Tennis is one of the top 5 most popular sports for both male and female members.

  • Football’s coming home?

Outside of the top three it’s a question of sport, with Football topping the remaining activities and growing in popularity year on year. Football represented 27% of non-core visits, responsible for every 1 in 4 visits in FY19 (up from 1 in 5 in 2017).

It’s a particular draw for non-members, for whom football makes up 13% of overall visits and 42% of sport specific visits. It is also in the top 5 non-core activities for members, and one of the most popular sports in the 16-24 age range.

Ready to hit your goals?

Kick off your 2020 right and contact us on 01635 345 21 to discuss how artificial football pitches can help grow your leisure business. With over 25 years’ experience in the design, planning and construction of artificial 3G football pitches for leisure operators, we have a number of case studies to draw from to show you how to get the best ROI.

With new finance opportunities available, your pitch can be funded, built and paying for itself within a short period of time.

Why is the report useful?

Knowing what’s growing in popularity, what’s losing traction and who’s visiting allows leisure operators to get planning for the year ahead. This might be in terms of:

  • Facilities

If you know your audience, and the audience you’d like to attract, you can look at the report and consider what facilities you should be focusing on or planning for. For example, if you have a strong track record for converting pay-as-you-go members into full members, you might want to look at facilities that will bring in more non-members, such as football.

  • Scheduling/opening hours

Knowing who is attending and when they’re most likely to attend will help you to schedule your classes and align your opening hours accordingly. For example if males are more likely to visit in late afternoon than women, then you may want to schedule fewer group classes at that time of day, as these are far less popular among male visitors.

  • Class offerings

Similarly to the above, if you’re aware of your audience and what sports they’re engaging with, then you may want to open up more class offerings to showcase the facilities you have that would draw them in. For example, if you have tennis courts and know that tennis is popular with female members – and that female members are more likely to engage in group activities, you might begin offering group tennis sessions to appeal to that demographic.

Looking to improve your leisure facilities?

A recent report shows that the UK health and fitness industry has grown 20% over the last 5 years and the market is worth roughly £5bn. The opportunity for leisure operators is there for the taking, but with visits to leisure facilities in decline in 2019, it’s a matter of ensuring that you have the facilities you need to attract and retain your membership.

With over 25 years of experience in sports construction, we’ve helped leisure operators across the country to expand their offerings with new external sporting facilities. So whether you’re looking to build new artificial 5-a-side pitches, tennis courts or multi-use games areas (MUGAs) – or if you’d like to renovate or extend your existing facilities, please contact us on 01635 345 21 to discuss.