Bridges backs low-cost gym

The high cost of gym membership in the UK is excluding some of those who would most benefit from exercise. Bridges investment will provide a boost to some of the UK's most deprived populations.

Bridges Ventures, a venture capital company with a social mission, has invested a first tranche of £1 million in The Gym, a low cost provider.

Gym membership in the UK is currently more expensive than anywhere else in Europe, according to market research company Mintel.

The Gym will provide facilities at affordable prices, with membership costing £14.99 a month with no membership contract. Facilities will include 160 pieces of state-of-the-art gym equipment and The Gym will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  

Similar models have been rolled out in the US and continental Europe with great success.

Bridges Ventures invests in companies that are located in the most under invested areas of the UK or that can achieve strong social impacts in sectors such as healthcare, the environment and education.

The Gym’s locations, in line with Bridges Ventures’ social criteria, will cover areas where large portions of the local community will be able to enjoy the benefits of low-cost gym membership.

The Gym’s first location is in Hounslow, London, in the Blenheim Centre, a £220 million mixed use development comprising of retail, leisure, private and affordable key-worker housing and additional community facilities.

Anne-Marie Harris of Bridges Ventures said: “About 12 per cent of the UK population are members of a gym but research indicates this figure could increase significantly if high membership fees were not so restrictive. The Gym offers a logical solution to the problem. With exciting plans for expanding the business in the near future, we are confident that the investment will offer a good return for investors as well as delivering on our social impact goals.”

Bridges Ventures has raised to date. The first fund, CDV Fund I, totalled £40m while the second, CDV Fund II, totalled £75m, beating its original target of £50m by 50 percent, and was closed in 2007. Investors in the second fund include HSBC, Doughty Hanson, Co-operative Financial Services, Barclays Business Banking, Lloyds TSB, and Citigroup.