The Gym Group sees membership numbers start to recover after pandemic hit profits

The Gym Group has seen higher demand at London branches in residential areas, with people working out closer to their home offices, the fitness chain has said.

Chief executive Richard Darwin was speaking as the company posted a first-half loss. Income was hurt by having to close sites for the lockdown. Most centres have now reopened.

Darwin said: “Clearly our five open central London sites are quieter at the moment, but we are seeing a week-on- week rise in usage outside of Zone 1.”

The company has 183 fitness centres, of which 61 are inside the M25.

Central London footfall has suffered from travel restrictions and people working from home since March when the lockdown started.

The Gym Group’s sales tumbled 49.6% to £37.3 million in the six months to June 30. It recorded a pre-tax loss of £27 million compared with a profit of £5.6 million a year earlier.

Members at The Gym Group were offered a “free freeze”, with no payments taken while branches were closed. In the first few days after closing there was a significant number of membership cancellations, but this rate subsequently slowed.

As at July 25, prior to the first gyms re-opening, total membership was 658,000.That rose to 676,000 as at August 31. The figure for August 2019 was 771,000.