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24 March 2021

Hallam research used to highlight the social value of gyms

A group of 186 affordable gyms run by The Gym Group generated £1.8bn in social value since 2016, according to analysis carried out by Sheffield Hallam University.

Press contact: Luke Fowler | l.fowler@shu.ac.uk.

Hallam Gym

The Social Value Calculator (SVC), which is based on research undertaken by the Sports Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, has been used by The Gym Group to measure the social value of their private-sector gyms.

The calculator, created by Dr Larissa Davies alongside colleagues from the Sports Industry Research Centre, allowed The Gym Group to see the impact of their organisation on health, subjective wellbeing, education and crime. Figures were obtained by considering the frequency of individuals exercising, the numbers attending the gym, demographics and other socio-economic factors.

The SVC is a measurement tool that was developed by Dr Davies in partnership with 4G and Experian. It was built using a national model that was developed for measuring the social return on investment on sport in England. The national research was funded by Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), Sport England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The analysis of The Gym Group revealed that the 186 affordable gyms that the company runs have generated £1.8bn in social value since 2016. It also stated that each member generated £490 in social value every year which represented a growth in the social value of each gym over the preceding years before the pandemic prevented members from accessing the facilities.

Dr Larissa Davies, Research Lead and Reader in sport management at Sheffield Hallam, said: “Measuring the value of sport and physical activity (PA) to society is important as it provides evidence to justify and support further investment in the sector. It is also important for advocating the benefits of keeping fit and active. For a long time, the sector has been able to articulate the economic value of sport and physical activity but not the wider social benefits. This tool helps provide a more holistic valuation of the sector, which is important for realising the full potential of sport and PA.

“We are delighted that our applied research on measuring the value of sport and physical activity is beneficial to the sector. It is great to see the SVC gaining traction with private sports and leisure operators such as The Gym Group, who play an important part in providing opportunities for participation.”


Dr Caroline Dalton, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Genetics and Theme Lead for Living Well with Chronic Disease, Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC), Sheffield Hallam University said: “We are delighted The Gym Group has adopted the Social Value Calculator. The Calculator is based on 5 years of research by Dr Larissa Davies and colleagues from Sheffield Hallam University, and is a measurement of the individual and societal benefits resulting from physical activity and the value it creates for the community.”

Previous research from the Sport Industry Research Centre has found that community sport and physical activity brings an annual contribution of £85.5 billion to the country (in 2018 prices) through social and economic benefits.

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