Membership numbers at some of the biggest Greenwich leisure centres continue to show declining numbers.
Waterfront in Woolwich saw a 17% annual reduction in members according to the latest figures.
The Greenwich Centre saw a 9% fall.
At Greenwich the number of private competitors is blamed.
In Woolwich the closure of Waterfront car park for Berkeley Home’s forthcoming towers is blamed in addition to private competition. Another private gym, Energie Fitness, is opening very close on Hare Street on 6th December.
The closure of the car park should have seen some investment in public realm to encourage walking and cycling from Woolwich town centre and station but none has appeared. Dated road design and excessive street clutter abounds outside.
The Eltham Centre saw an increase but no number is mentioned.
Figures are not given for Thamesmead nor Coldharbour.
Sutcliffe Park appears to have got off to a good start with 90,000 visits since opening.
Why the fall?
Low cost gym operators appear to be hitting council centres hard. Many are cheap, have no long-term contracts with some open 24/7.
Marketing from Better could certainly be, well, better. I googled Waterfront and there’s no information on monthly costs on the initial landing page. In a price sensitive market that is essential.
They mention half price joining fees but low cost gym groups sometimes do not offer any as it is, and almost always highlight low monthly costs in marketing and on websites.
Clicking through to another page shows monthly costs of £30.85 verses £22.99 at the forthcoming Energie Gym. PureGym in Charlton is even less at £19.99 a month and open 24/7 with no long term contract. Competition is fierce.
Also, public realm around leisure centres is poor and dissuades walking and cycling to reach them. The Greenwich Centre has a pretty dire junction outside along with many poorly designed streets in the area which are a big barrier to access, especially from new build homes on the Peninsula.
Greenwich Council and operators Better will be hoping that Waterfront’s move to General Gordon Square will rejuvenate the centre and increase numbers. It is scheduled after 2020.