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Embargoed until 00:01am Thursday 5th January 2006
* Interviews with experts and spokespeople; case studies and image database available
* Facts and stats – UK and for the following nations and regions: Scotland; Wales; London; Thames Valley; South West; East & West Mids; North West; Yorkshire

NEW YEAR FITNESS FRENZY: CAMPAIGN CALLS FOR CONSUMERS TO GET OFF THE GYM TREADMILL

In a desperate bid to lose their beer belly and gain a beach body, it’s expected that record number of Brits will be joining gyms in January in an effort to shed their post-Christmas pounds and shape up for the Summer.

But with three quarters of existing gym members rarely bothering to go(1), the UK’s leading action adventure group, SPICE, has launched Working Out, a campaign to raise awareness of the hundreds of value for money alternatives to the gym.

Teaming up with the Outdoor Industries Association and leading fitness expert, Matt Barker, SPICE’s campaign highlights that 73% of UK gym members(1) are wasting money and failing to improve their fitness levels by under utilizing their membership.

Dave Smith is the UK Coordinator for SPICE, “Whilst gym memberships can work for some, for the majority it really is a case of money down the drain. SPICE’s Working Out campaign highlights the importance of consumers considering alternatives to the gym. What’s vital is that more Brits get active, and in doing so, improve their health and social networks and sense of wellbeing.

“Offering hundreds of events to our members each month, we really do believe that variety is the spice of life. That’s why the Working Out campaign highlights the mass of activities ideal to get and keep people active, from belly dancing to badminton, hockey to horse riding and walking to water skiing.”

With an increase of almost a million members since 2000(2), there are now approximately 4.5 million gym members in the UK. Based on an average monthly membership cost of £41.86(3), and three quarters of gym goers under-utilizing their memberships, this means that UK consumers are potentially throwing three quarters of a billion pounds(4) down the drain each year.

Weighing up the real costs of under utilized membership, on the basis of a member going only once a fortnight to an averagely price gym(3), this could mean that each visit to the gym is actually costing more than £20.

This compares to undertaking activities such as dancing, outdoor activities, team and water sports, all of which can either be done for free or for around the cost of a cinema ticket. All of which too, increase a person’s chances of not getting bored and of making more friends.

Roger Southcott is a Director with the Outdoor Industries Association, “With UK obesity levels quadrupling in the last 25 years(5), it’s more important than ever that Brits get active. The outdoors could be considered the Country's biggest free gym, with walking and other outdoor activities all being hugely beneficial for health and fitness. It's much more than just a cardio-vascular workout - it's also a great way for singles, groups and families to have fun and get fit together. "

Fitness expert, Matt Barker, adds “With the three main reasons for joining a gym being weight loss, increase in fitness and firming up(6), it’s easy to see why people rush to join a gym especially in the post-Christmas period.

“The top three reasons that people leave gyms are lack of time, expense and loss of motivation(6). Before committing to a potentially expensive 12-month contract, consumers should ask themselves if they will make full use of their membership, and if not, should look at potentially more varied and better value ways of being active.”

As part of the campaign, SPICE has worked with the Outdoor Industries Association and fitness expert Matt Barker to develop ACTIVATE, an online guide to getting and keeping fit. ACTIVATE can be viewed at www.spiceuk.com.

SOURCE
1 4.5 million adult gym members in the UK. Only 27% of the members actually go to the gym on a regular basis (regular basis is as defined by the survey respondents). [Source: BMRB’s Target Group Index, 2004 – based on a sample size of 25,000 sourced via the Economic and Social Research Council]
2 An increase in gym memberships of almost a million since 2000. [Source: TGI via Media Week – 4th May 2005]
3 The cheapest monthly gym membership is currently £10 and the most expensive is £333. The average membership is £41.86. [Source: Fitness Industry Association]
4 Based upon an average monthly membership cost of £41.863, taking a comparison between a regular user going three times per week as opposed to an infrequent user going three times a month, each attendance costs the infrequent user more than 3x that of the regular user. Cost per session of regular user is £3.22, compared to that of the non-regular of £13.92, with a difference of £10.73. Figure of £748 million is based upon the comparison of cost per visit between the two and FIA’s figures that 43% of gym members visit less than 4 times per month after month 3 of membership, based on ESRC’s 4.5 million gym members.
5 22% of men and 23% of women were classified as obese in England in 2002. 43% of men and 34% of women were overweight, but not obese, meaning over half of all adults weighed more than their recommended weight (based on Body Mass Index). [Source: Office for National Statistics (2005a) Op. Cit., Table 13.6.]
6 Why people join gyms – top three reasons: Lose weight (29%), increase fitness (11%), firm up (10%) and why people leave gyms – top three reasons: Not enough time (44%), membership fee too expensive (21%), loss of/no motivation (17%). [Source: NOP/Mintel – Fitness Industry Association Report, 2000 ‘Why People don’t Join’]

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Hughes at Giraffe Communications Ltd M: 07712 784 859 E: sarah@giraffecomms.com

NOTES TO EDITORS - AVAILABLE
* ACTIVATE guide – contact Sarah to request
* Further facts and figures – on activities, gym memberships and obesity levels in the UK, nations and regions
* Feature synopses and case studies of UK people who use a wide variety of activities
* Image database of dancing, outdoor activities, water and team sports
* Activity locations for photography and interviews
* Journalist’s have a go – your chance to try a range of activities with SPICE

AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW:
Dave Smith, Coordinator, SPICE UK
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2006, Dave Smith established the SPICE action adventure group in frustration that no other organization provided access to the wide range of activities he was seeking. With 15,000 members in England, Scotland and Wales, SPICE is now the UK’s largest action adventure group.

Roger Southcott, Director, Outdoor Industries Association (OIA)
A director for 15 years with the OIA, Roger is also media spokesperson for the organization. Passionate about getting people more active and enjoying the outdoors from the earliest possible age, he is also Secretary of the British Activity Holiday Association, a group which is mostly aimed at facilitating kids enjoying activity holidays.

Fitness expert, Matt Barker
With an honorary BSc degree in Sports Science and a Masters degree in Exercise and Health Science, Matt is a qualified personal trainer whose mission is to help people feel fitter, healthier and more energetic – for LIFE.

Formerly a fitness manager for a chain of health clubs, Matt is now director of Headstart Consulting Group's Exercise & Health Division. He now provides consultancy to improve member retention in health and fitness clubs. He is also Content & Operations Director of fitnessNdiets.com (a website due to be launched in Jan 2006).

A guest speaker at fitness industry events, Matt contributes regular articles to FitPro Business’s publication and is an expert panelist and writer for both Eat and Personal Trainer for Women magazines.

ABOUT SPICE
The UK’s leading action adventure group, SPICE is the ideal organisation for adults that want to live their dream by providing activities, adventures and unusual experiences, in a way that’s easily accessible and affordable.

What unites SPICE’s members is their determination to live life to the full whatever their circumstances or bank balance. To find out how you can Spice up your life. Visit www.spiceuk.com or call 0161 873 8788.

ABOUT THE OUTDOOR INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION (OIA)
There to promote the outdoors for the benefit of everyone, the OIA acts as a central point for information on the outdoors. It also provides support on issues like employment legislation and is the industry voice to government on legislative issues that impacts on the outdoors sector. Visit
www.go-outdoors.org.uk

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Giraffe Communications in the following categories: Men's Interest, Health, Women's Interest & Beauty, for more information visit https://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.