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18/11/2016

SDA & Industry Update

by Kaine Varley

Industry Update

Interesting reading, classic case of the member today won’t be the same member in a year… how do we, as software providers, keep up??

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Also, Virgin are reinventing PE in schools…

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Alternative to really expensive, fixed standing desks… Keep the workforce healthy!

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Charitable leisure trust Sport Aberdeen has unveiled plans to open UK’s first dedicated virtual gym.

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Councillors at Warwick District Council have agreed plans to invest £14.5million on revamping two of its leisure centres.

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Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has appeared on the BBC’s Daily Politics show putting forward the case for a £1billion regeneration of leisure centres.

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11/11/2016

SDA & Industry Update

by Kaine Varley

Industry Update

So, this week the great and the good (!?) of the leisure, health, fitness & wellness (it’s all about wellness now!) industry gathered in London for the UK Active Summit. Around 500 people attended for an overall industry update, seminars, sessions and networking. Gladstone were in attendance.

A couple of the key stories from it are below;

Physical inactivity levels across the UK should be a source of national embarrassment. This was the damning verdict from Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, chair of ukactive, in her speech at the ukactive Summit this morning.

While Team GB might have enjoyed huge success in the Rio Olympics and Paralympics this summer – proof that Britain has the ability to be a sporting superpower at an elite level – Grey-Thompson noted: “We mustn’t allow a strong showing in the medal table to mask the fact that, when it comes to mobilising the general public, Britain finds itself seriously stuck in the blocks.”

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The UK’s fitness workforce is “ill-equipped” to deal with the needs and requirements of a modern-day, diverse customer base – according to an industry report published today.

The Raising the Bar 2016 report, compiled by Future Fit Training in partnership with ukactive and CIMSPA, charts the results of a survey which set out to identify the ability of fitness employers and their employees to deliver a service in a market which increasingly includes special populations.

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South coast leisure operator BH Live has secured a long-term deal to manage six venues in Portsmouth, and will plough in more £1m (US$1.2m, €1.1m) of investment.

The 10-year contract will see BH Live take over Mountbatten Leisure Centre, Portsmouth Gymnastics Centre, Portsmouth Tennis Centre Eastney Swimming Pool, Wimbledon Park Sports Centre and Charter Community Sports Centre from February 2017.

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Fitness company WeTRAIN is looking to raise £600,000 through a crowdfunding campaign, as it plans to expand its business by launching WeEXPERIENCE.

The new concept will look to bring socialising and exercising together, and cater for what it calls “the brunching generation”.

Users will be able to book a range of experiences, such as being trained by athletes and experts before joining them for drinks or a meal. Taster sessions running in November include a kickboxing masterclass with Ruqsana Begum followed by a superfood breakfast hosted by the world champion kickboxer herself.

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Architecture studio Jestico & Whiles’ plans to transform a disused air base in Oxfordshire, UK, into a leisure district has been given the green light by the local council.

According to the design team, the complex – located in the village of Upper Heyford – will be like no other in the country due to its typological flexibility and historic reference points.

Cherwell District Council have approved the project, and an estimated 12-month construction schedule is set to begin in the New Year.

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As many of you are aware, today is Rememberance Day – 11thhour of the 11th day of the 11th month, so here’s a few facts for you about today.

  • The first Remembrance Day was held in 1919 throughout the Commonwealth.
  • The occasion was formerly known as Armistice Day. The name changed after the Second World War.
  • Poppies’ use as a symbol of remembrance was inspired by the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ by Canadian John McCrae, with its opening lines referring to the thousands of poppies that were the first flowers to grow in the churned-up earth of soldiers’ graves.
30/09/2016

SDA & Industry Update

by Kaine Varley

Industry Update

Quadrant Private Equity has agreed to acquire Fitness First Australia from hedge fund giant Oaktree Capital Management, in a deal signed yesterday (29 September).

The deal creates the largest fitness group in Australia, with 650,000 members and total revenues exceeding A$400m (£235m, US$304.4m, €272.2m).

Quadrant acquired low-cost gym operator Jetts Fitness last month, for a reported A$100m (£58.7m, US$76.1m, €68.1m), having purchased Goodlife Health Clubs from theme park operator Ardent Leisure in August for AU$260m (£152.7m, US$197.9m, €176.9m).

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The beginning of a new school year has coincided with an influx of people going to use the gym, according to a study conducted by Fitness First.

After the New Year, September has been recognised for being the “second peak for resetting healthy habits”, with internet searches for fitness classes surging by 825 per cent month-on-month from August.

The study also found that searches for ‘gym’ increased by 39 per cent month-on-month, leading to September being dubbed Reset-ember.

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A £5m (US$6.5m, €5.8m) proposal to reopen Turkish baths in Newcastle, UK, has moved a step closer with the council approving planning permission.

Charity Fusion Lifestyle is behind the project, which will see the baths and pool re-established in the north-east city by 2018. The venue will be kitted out with new health and wellbeing facilities, a spa and bistro cafe.

Work is expected to begin in early 2017 to transform the Grade II listed building following the green light from Newcastle City Council.

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FitQuest has created an online portal that allows members, personal trainers and gym operators to track progress and share success on social media.

FitQuest measures five fitness tasks to give an overall FQScore.

Fitness data collected from FitQuest, the user’s FQ Score is accessible by members from anywhere via their desktop, tablet or smartphone.

The FQScore portal can be incorporated into an operator’s website, allowing members to book classes, get club news and track their FQScore progress.

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Venues such as Villa Park, the Alexander Stadium and the NEC Arena could host Commonwealth Games events, if Birmingham wins its bid to organise the 2026 event.

The ‘second city’ has officially entered the race to host the Games in a decade’s time, and will now commission a feasibility study to work out the detail of staging such a high profile event.

Birmingham City Council, the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, the West Midlands Combined Authority and Midlands Engine have supported the bid.

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19/09/2016

SDA & Industry Update

by Kaine Varley

Industry Update

Concordia Leisure Center in Cramlington, Northumberland, has reopened to the public following a £3.1m redevelopment and upgrading of its fitness facilities.

The extension to the gym includes more than 100 new pieces of equipment supplied by Technogym and the introduction of a large functional training area.

A new group cycling studio has also been added, featuring 25 Keiser bikes on a tiered layout. The studio will be “fully interactive”, featuring virtual instructors as well as traditional cycling classes.

The upgrade of the health club is part of a larger transformation which has seen the centre – which first opened in the 1970s – being transformed into a modern leisure hub with a number of new activities.

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Public Health England (PHE) has produced a new physical activity online tool, designed to support local health improvement by making local data available alongside national comparisons.

The tool brings together physical activity data for the whole of England – including walking and cycling – as well as data on related risk factors and conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

According to PHE, the tool – which is part of PHE’s Everybody Active, Every Day framework – will help promote physical activity at a local level.

“The tool is easy to use and data is presented at local level to help promote physical activity at an organisation, programme and individual level – as well as develop understanding and support benchmarking, commissioning and service improvement,” a spokesperson for PHE said.

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University of Bath has reopened the high performance gym at its Sports Training Village, following a redevelopment which included the installation of new equipment by Matrix.

The new kit now available at the gym includes Matrix’s S-Drive Performance Trainer, Aura strength products, 7xi generation machines and Climbmills.

First opened in 2011, the Performance Gym is a £100,000 extension to the Team Bath Gym designed solely for performance athletes based at the Sports Training Village.

The Performance Gym was funded through a partnership between the University of Bath, the English Institute of Sport (EIS), Sport England, UK Sport and the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS).

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Pure Gym will plough some of the money it raises from selling its shares into further developing its tech as part of a strategy to create new products and experiences for members and to future-proof its business.

The budget health club operator revealed yesterday (14 September) that it expects to formally float on the London Stock Exchange in mid-October.

In an exclusive interview, chief executive Humphrey Cobbold told Health Club Management that the £190m (US$250.8m, €222.7m) the business hopes to generate from the IPO will swap debt for equity to improve the balance sheet and will be spent on opening more gyms and further developing its in-house technology department.

The tech team will be charged with developing systems to deliver new membership packages and payment methods such as Apple Pay, as well as platforms designed to attract and retain members.

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14/09/2016

LIW 2016

by pchaklides
Although we will not have a stand at this year’s LIW show, Owen and Pete will be attending on Tue 20th September so if you want to meet up and have chat or review your future requirements then please get in touch with Pete via  pchaklides@sdasoftware.net or mobile 07815 886281.
12/10/2015

SDA’s Weekly Round Up – Week Ending 09.10.2015

by Kaine Varley

Industry Update

Services giant Serco’s plans to offload its leisure arm as part of CEO Rupert Soames’ strategy overhaul may be delayed by ‘up to a year’.

Serco Leisure – which manages around 60 UK locations including Bisham Abbey and Lilleshall National Sports Centres, plus the National Water Sports Centre – had been expected to be sold this summer, with two UK buyers initially understood to have been in contention.

However, a well-placed source has told Health Club Management that the sale may now not be completed for up to a year. Serco’s Environmental Services business is also up for sale and it’s thought that the complexity of divesting from the various leisure and environmental contracts it has in place with local authorities is part of the reason for the slow progress.

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Jubilee Hall Trust has pioneered a new programme to get the feet of inactive Londoners off the couch and pounding the parks.

The health charity’s new initiative aims to inspire beginner runners by providing a challenging goal as well as accessible support and training to help them reach it. Participants are invited to participate in free coaching sessions at the Jubilee-operated Armoury gym in Hampstead in the ten weeks leading up to their goal – a 10K Trail Run on Hampstead Heath.

That Trail Run took place on 19 September, when English long-distance great David Bedford fired the gun to start nearly 200 people in the inaugural Jubilee Hall Trust outdoor running event. The event was an opportunity to get local residents more active, while raising funds for the charity’s work to get the Camden community fitter and healthier

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A new association has been launched with a mission to unify campaigners working to protect and restore Britain’s heritage swimming baths and lidos.

Historic Pools of Britain will aim to provide a shared voice for the hundreds of indoor and outdoor pools in the UK, most of which pre-date 1939. It will serve to celebrate the social and architectural contributions of these sites and underline the role they have to play today in helping communities stay active, particularly as the number of British pools continues to decrease.

Many of the Britain’s heritage baths are currently in a fragile state. For example, there are 116 listed baths buildings, of which only 52 are operational or in the process of being refurbished.

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Work experience is more important than academic qualifications, according to operators taking part in the latest Fitness Industry Confidence Survey.

The findings follow a growing sentiment in the industry that many qualifications do not provide candidates who are fit-for-purpose, with a lack of ‘soft skills’ of particular concern.

The latest research, carried out by insight specialist Leisure-net Solutions in collaboration with Leisure Industry Week (LIW) and Lifetime Training, showed work experience was the most important attribute a school leaver could have when applying for a job. Around 47 per cent of respondents expressed a preference for new-starters to have work experience, compared to just 15 per cent saying academic qualifications.

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A brand new industry event aiming to bring together a wide range of sectors to tackle the physical inactivity crisis will take place at London Olympia next year.

Elevate, which runs from 4-5 May 2016, is intended to become an annual event which ‘elevates’ the importance of physical activity, showcases the best of the industry and encourages cross-sector collaboration.

Event director Max Quittenton, who has previously worked on Leisure Industry Week, says the show will bring together academia, healthcare, government, the physical activity sector and performance experts to focus on turning the tide of inactivity.

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Sports Direct Fitness is laying the foundations for its ‘aggressive’ expansion over the next year by bringing in fresh blood and setting aside £250m to turbocharge the gym chain’s growth.

Health Club Management revealed last month that owner Mike Ashley is happy with the dual-use gym and retail concept devised by the company and is now eager to scale up the rollout of new sites. The ‘£250m war chest’ – first reported by Property Week – will be used to gain a stronger foothold in the south east of England as the chain aims to reach its ultimate goal of 200 gyms nationwide.

The company plans to launch up to 16 new sites in 2016 under the dual-use concept which has seen it offer memberships from as little as £5 per month.

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Xercise4Less is continuing its quest for dominance in the West Midlands, with plans to launch what will be its third new club in the region this year.

Scheduled to open in December, the new Shrewsbury site will be the sixth Xercise4Less gym in the West Midlands overall, bringing the low cost chain’s total investment across the region to £6m.

The new 32,730sq ft (3,040sq m) site will offer a range of Matrix Fitness equipment for cardio, free weights, combat and a ladies only area, plus a large fitness studio that will feature more than 40 free classes per week.

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Just out of interest…

Scientists in Australia have hailed a ‘major breakthrough’ which could lead to drug treatments which are able to mirror the health benefits of exercise.

Research from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre has identified molecular reactions to exercise in the body, providing what has been described as the world’s first comprehensive exercise blueprint. Published in Cell Metabolism, the research exposed a thousand molecular changes that occur in our muscles when we exercise.

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Gladstone are in the industry news!

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25/09/2015

SDA’s Weekly Round Up – Week Ending 25.09.2015

by Kaine Varley

Industry Update…

Archery GB has launched a “New Places for Target Faces” initiative, encouraging leisure centres and other community venues to offer archery as an activity.

The scheme is being rolled out across the UK to encourage greater participation in archery. With an estimated 750,000 people experiencing archery every year, the initiative offers facility owners and operators the support they need to establish archery as an activity at their venues.

Sport England’s latest Active People Survey shows there are 54,000 adults who take part in archery once a month, a sharp dip on the 2012-13 figure of 75,000. However, Archery GB hopes greater accessibility to the sport can spark a resurgence similar to that seen in the US, where the bow and arrow skills of Katniss in the Hunger Games franchise has led to thousands of youngsters taking up the sport.

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Health and fitness operators must redefine the boundaries of their market and embrace innovation if they are to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive sector, says Ray Algar.

Delivering his keynote address at LIW 2015 in Birmingham, the fitness industry analyst issued a call to arms for entrepreneurs to redefine the sector.

Citing examples such as the start of the mid-market with the launch of Fitness First in 1993 and the arrival of the budget sector in the UK in the mid-noughties (a concept started in Germany in the late 90s), Algar said the time is ripe for a great leap forward. Otherwise, he warned, the industry will continue to ‘squabble’ over the same 13 per cent of the adult population that are gym members.

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Regular exercise sessions can help to significantly reduce the occurrence of suicidal thoughts or attempts among teens who are being bullied, according to a new study.

Research to be published in the October 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) reports that exercising four or more days per week is associated with a 23 per cent reduction in both suicidal ideation and attempts in bullied US adolescents.

Almost 20 per cent of students in the US have reported being bullied on school property, while anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label says seven out of 10 young people in the UK have reported being bullied online. As well as thoughts of suicide, suffering from bullying is associated with academic struggle, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and self-harm.

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A new virtual training solution designed to get kids moving through a range of on-demand and on-screen entertainment, fitness and dance activities has launched a Kickstarter campaign to turbocharge its growth.

iDEA, which offers classes available for streaming both at home and in schools, gyms, leisure clubs and hotels, is bidding to raise £25,000 on the crowdfunding website to develop its next range of activities. Current offerings – such as street magic, breakdancing and martial arts – are hosted by experts in their field and aim to get people more physically, mentally and socially active.

“Not all children are attracted to physical activity under a ‘fitness’ banner, so we’ve created concepts that will get them up but also make them more socially active, for example they learn magic tricks that they can then practice on their friends,” Jane Maguire, MD and co-founder of iDEA, told Health Club Management.

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Many NHS-accredited smartphone health apps leak data that could be used for ID theft and fraud, a study has found.

The apps are included in NHS England’s Health Apps Library, which tests programs to ensure they meet standards of clinical and data safety.

But the study by researchers in London discovered that, despite the vetting, some apps flouted privacy standards and sent data without encrypting it.

The apps that leaked the most data have now been removed from the library.

“If we were talking about health apps generally in the wider world, then what we found would not be surprising,” said Kit Huckvale, a PhD student at Imperial College London, who co-wrote the study.

But given that the apps the study looked at were supposed to have been vetted and approved, finding that most of them did a poor job of protecting data was a surprise, he added.

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A couple of “just out of interest” articles, not sure about the sleep pods though!

A Midlife Guide to… the office sleeper desk

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The potential of sport: a £20 billion industry

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Finally, as it’s England v Wales this weekend in the rugby world cup, for those who like their stats!

Games played between England and Wales

Come on England ;)

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04/09/2015

SDA’s Weekly Round Up – Week Ending 04.09.2015

by Kaine Varley

Industry Update…

Pulse has been announced as the winner of a close-fought tender to become Sport Aberdeen’s Fitness Development Partner for the next five years. The leisure solutions provider will work with Sport Aberdeen to redevelop up to five facilities which are currently managed by Sport Aberdeen on behalf of Aberdeen City Council.

As part of the contract – which has a potential value of £5m – Pulse will use advise Sport Aberdeen on how it can improve existing fitness provisions whilst meeting the needs of the local community. Pulse will be responsible for carrying out all design and build work, as well as kitting out the facility with fitness equipment.

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Freedom Leisure has further bolstered its presence in Wales and south west England by securing the contract to manage five leisure centres in Gloucestershire.

The not-for-profit leisure operator will take charge of the sites from October, working in partnership with Forest of Dean District Council on the leisure facilities in the towns of Cinderford, Coleford, Lydney, Newent and Sedbury. The Forest Of Dean management contract comes hot on the heels of the 15 Powys centres in Wales that Freedom Leisure began managing in June, and brings the number of sites it manages to 52.

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Flexible gym contracts which don’t require members to commit to a fixed term are actually better for retention than traditional 12-month tie-ins, according to a new report.

ukactive’s mid-year Business Performance Benchmarking Insight Report – based on data from more than 600 UK fitness and leisure sites – has found that enabling health club members to leave whenever they want is actually the best way to keep them.

The report found gyms with a fixed-term minimum 12-month contract saw an average membership length of 11.2 months, whereas gyms not requiring a 12-month commitment and offering more flexible contract lengths saw an average stay of 17.2 months.

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Howe Bridge Leisure Centre has opened its brand new health and fitness suite – part of the ongoing £2.9m transformation at the WLCT-operated site.

Members can now take advantage of a new Technogym-equipped 80-station gym, sauna and steamroom, indoor cycling studio, group exercise studio and new changing rooms. As part of the first phase of improvements, the centre’s reception area has also been modernised and a new catering offer, The Subs Bench, has opened for business.

The latest development follows the recent opening of the 3G FIFA 2 star pitch. Next to come is a range of innovative leisure products including adventure climbing, an indoor extreme skate park and adventure play facilities. Wigan Council has invested £2.4m into the project, while WLCT secured an additional £500,000 from the National Lottery’s Sport England Improvement Fund.

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Don’t forget it’s “cycle to work” and National Fitness Day on 9th September!!!!

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Random fact for the week…

For those that aren’t aware, it’s the Bunkfest in Wallingford this weekend. It starts today at 12pm and finishes on Sunday night at 10.30pm, there are loads of events going on all over town, all weekend, however, what many don’t realise is why it’s called Bunkfest….so…….. The festival takes its name from the former Great Western Railway branch line that ran from Cholsey to Wallingford, which was affectionately known as “the Bunk”. The branch shut in 1969 but since 1981 is now preserved by the Cholsey & Wallingford Railway Preservation Society.

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07/08/2015

SDA’s Weekly Round Up – Week Ending 07.08.2015

by Kaine Varley

Industry Update

Pure Gym has announced that it will open two new health clubs in Glasgow and another in Motherwell by autumn, as it bids to strengthen its foothold north of the border. The fast-growing chain, which recently unveiled legendary Scotsman Sir Chris Hoy as a new investor, says the triple launch will take its Scottish gym portfolio to 14 sites, amid plans for further growth.

PureGym Glasgow Shawlands, Glasgow Charing Cross and Motherwell will each be filled with more than 220 pieces of Matrix gym equipment and offer 50 free classes per week. The clubs will also feature functional training zones with kettlebells, Power Plate and suspension trainers.

The burgeoning wearable tech market is expected to triple in value over the next 10 years, according to a research forecast by IDTechEx.

The company, which has a database of 1,200 companies in the wearable tech sphere, predicts the value of the wearable tech market will rise from US$24.2bn (€22.1bn, £15.5bn) this year to US$74bn (€67.5bn, £47.4bn) in 2025.

The report acknowledges that fitness-focused wrist-worn devices such as the Apple Watch, Microsoft Band and Fitbit have so far dominated the fledgling wearables market. However, it predicts that the future will see device manufacturers look beyond the wrist and “abandon the 100 year old ‘components in a box’ approach”.

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Industry insight specialist Leisure-net Solutions has joined forces with Leisure Industry Week (LIW) to take the pulse of the sector in a new Industry Confidence Survey.

The 2015 survey, which has been sent out to all operators on the LIW database in the lead up to this year’s revamped show on 22-23 September, is the first survey of its kind in three years. The questionnaire is designed to gauge how confident operators are about the overall future of the health and fitness industry, their own business and its different income streams, as well as what they see as the major challenges facing the sector in the next 12 months. Keep an eye out for the results of the survey!

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Link to the sporta ezine (for those who don’t know, sporta is the body that represents all the Leisure Trusts in the UK, Gladstone have been a sponsoring partner of sporta for the last 10+ years, many of them are our customers)

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ukactive has announced that it will spearhead the UK arm of a Europe-wide initiative to help young children lead healthier lifestyles.

ukactive will team up with Fit for Sport to bring the Action Learning for Children in Schools (ALCIS) project to 17 schools in the UK, with the initiative starting during the inaugural European Week of Sport, which runs from 7-13 September 2015.

ALCIS is a project across five EU Member States, co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and centrally co-ordinated by EuropeActive.

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Resurgent health club chain Total Fitness is bidding to drive growth through “opportunistic” acquisitions as the company continues its turnaround strategy. Having hit hard times at the start of the decade, the business is currently 60 per cent of the way through an estimated £18.5m refurbishment of its estate (17 clubs and counting), which has so far seen membership increase from 76,000 to 90,000.

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Out of interest…

Last summer, social media was dominated by videos of people having a bucket of cold water poured over their head. So what was it all for again and how much did the charities benefit?

Everyone knows someone who did the ice bucket challenge at some point last year (if you didn’t actually do it yourself). Videos were shared, friends were nominated and countless celebrities were doused – all for a good cause. In what has been described as the world’s largest global social media phenomenon, more than 17 million people uploaded videos to Facebook which were then watched by 440 million people worldwide.

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Another random Wallingford fact.

Wallingford Castle was a major royal castle and stronghold. It was so threatening that Oliver Cromwell decided to destroy it at the end of the Civil War. It was built around 1067-1071 by Robert D’Oilly, on orders from William the Conqueror. Like other Norman castles, it was a “motte and bailey” – a central mound capped with a tower and surrounded by a large courtyard with high protective walls. It was much enlarged during the Middle Ages. The Castle also had a prison. Among many who were imprisoned here were William Martel, Edward I and Owen Tudor.

Random facts about bikes, for the cyclists in the office.

The longest tandem bike ever built had 35 seats and was about 67 feet long.

A bit of cycling science for you: amazingly, a bicycle can stay upright without a rider as long as it’s moving at 8mph or faster.

The first constructed bike was almost entirely made of wood and several thousand copies were built and used. As you can imagine its popularity dramatically faded when the number of accidents soared and it was prohibited by the police.

The first ‘velodrome’ for cycle races was the Alexandra Palace Velodrome in 1902.

15/05/2015

SDA’s Weekly Round Up – Week Ending 15.05.2015

by Kaine Varley

It’s been a busy week!

Virgin Active European COO Matt Merrick and GLL managing director Mark Sesnan have won seats on the new-look ukactive Board of Directors following a high-profile election. Merrick will fill the commercial fitness seat and Sesnan will represent local authority activity, having been favoured by ukactive members over a host of other well-known industry names. The third elected seat, representing “broader physical activity,” will be filled by Dr Ewan Hamnett, who ran unopposed after the ukactive Nominations Committee agreed there was no other suitable application for this seat.

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John Whittingdale, the former chair of the House of Commons culture committee, has today (11 May) been named as the new secretary of state for culture, media and sport. Whittingdale replaces Sajid Javid, who has been made business secretary, as predicted by Leisure Opportunities on Friday.

The news was announced via Prime Minister David Cameron’s official Twitter feed as the Conservative Party leader announced his first cabinet line-up since winning a surprise Commons majority in last week’s general election. In a simple Tweet, the Prime Minister wrote: “I have appointed John Whittingdale as the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.”

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Virgin Active has announced the launch of its long-awaited Discovery Lab – a creative hub made up of health and fitness experts that will drive development of products and classes. Despite an impending takeover by South African investment firm Brait, its business as usual for the UK arm of the gym chain, which says the Discovery Lab will bring adventure and innovation from unusual places into the health club environment.

“We are incredibly focused on encouraging members to continually discover new things and find ways to stay active whatever their level of fitness,” said Clare Gambardella, European marketing director at Virgin Active.

“The Discovery Lab is a brilliant way to further bring this promise to life for our members, working with not only our own experts, but unexpected and exciting guest contributors who will help us think differently about the way we develop new products and classes.”

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Everyone Health – Sports and Leisure Management’s (SLM) public health division – has won a “landmark” £4.5m contract to manage lifestyle services on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council.

The three-year partnership, which starts in June, will see Everyone Health tasked with improving the health and wellbeing of local communities. It will employ an integrated approach, combining services for physical and mental health – including exercise and weight management services – through a range of one-to-one and group delivery options. “This is a landmark contract for Everyone Health,” said Annie Holden, head of Public Health at Everyone Health. “Our aim is to provide more people in Cambridgeshire with the on-going support and education they need to make improved, healthier lifestyle choices.”

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Wearable tracking device, Fitbit, has filed for an initial public offering worth up to $100m (€87.4m, £63m) and intends to lists its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.
The company, which is interviewed in the June issue of Health Club Management, has sold almost 21 million devices since 2011, with more than half of those sales made in 2014.

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Operator Tone Leisure is to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of GLL, as the burgeoning not-for-profit enterprise continues to expand.

Under the agreement, which commences on 1 June 2015, Tone will continue to directly operate its 13 leisure and sporting facilities across the south west of England until 1 December 2016, when a full merger is planned with GLL. Having formed in 2004, Tone has quickly grown to comprise 600 staff, with a yearly turnover of £7.8m.

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Former Fitness First chief Colin Waggett has been named CEO of the as-yet-unnamed portfolio of high-end London health clubs owned by private investment firm Encore Capital. Encore recently acquired the Third Space group – whose Soho and Marylebone clubs boast a range of celebrity members – as well as the Tower Bridge 37 Degrees health club for an undisclosed fee. These recent acquisitions, together with Encore’s ownership of the Reebok Sports Club in Canary Wharf underline its ambitious growth plans in the health and fitness sector.

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Just out of interest…….

Real Federación Española de FútbolThis year’s National Fitness Day – the largest celebration of physical activity in the UK – will see schools included in the initiative for the first time as organiser ukactive targets a bigger and better event than ever before. Founded by the énergie Group, ukactive now co-ordinates the day, which will see thousands of people don their exercise gear and flock to gyms, health clubs, leisure centres and parks around the country to take part in free ‘Power Half Hour’ exercise events. Last year saw nearly 2,000 venues open their doors to run free ‘Power-Half-Hour’ exercise sessions – reaching 27 million people – and ukactive hopes that casting the net even wider will see greater numbers get active on 9 September 2015.

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This week sees Palindromes with the dates…

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New study confirms weight loss effect of commuting by bike…

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