Buyer’s guide to corporate gym membership 2013

With healthy living often in the spotlight, gym-goers are on the increase, and many employers now offer gym membership as an employee benefit.

Organisations are recognising that corporate gym membership can help to produce more engaged employees who tend to be happier and have more energy and motivation in the workplace.

Signing up to corporate gym membership can save staff money, especially if it is fully funded by the employer. It can be offered as a core benefit or through a flexible or voluntary benefits scheme, and via a salary sacrifice arrangement.

Employee Benefits’ Benefits Research 2013, published in May, found that just 12% of the employers surveyed offer gym membership as a core benefit to all staff, compared with 17% that did so in 2009. It is offered as a voluntary benefit by 32% of respondents, compared with 28% in 2009, while 12% offer it through a flexible benefits scheme.

Corporate gym memberships can cost from £10 to more than £100 a month per employee, depending on the gym chain and branch location. Some contracts may require employees to sign up for a minimum of a year.

Membership payments by the employer are subject to tax and national insurance unless the gym is on-site and exclusively for employees’ use.

An on-site gym can be implemented through a provider such as Nuffield Health, which operates more than 200 gyms for employers across the UK.

But with costs typically ranging from £20,000 to £40,000 a year, an on-site gym may not be viable for smaller employers. Organisations with smaller benefits budgets that want to maximise gym choice for their employees can negotiate corporate discounts with gym chains in their local area.

Third-party providers

Third-party providers, such as Incorpore, can help employers find the best solution. It works with a network of around 2,600 UK and Ireland-based gyms, health clubs and leisure centres, and can offer corporate membership discounts of up to 30% at any gym within reach of an employee’s home or workplace.

Incorpore works with established consumer gym chains such as David Lloyd, Fitness First and Virgin Active, as well as small regional gyms across the country.

However, the growth of budget gyms has meant there is less reason for employers to offer corporate gym membership as a perk. These gyms provide basic equipment and fitness classes for as little as £10.99 a month, and offer flexible membership terms, which will attract employees who may not want to commit to a year’s membership.

Budget gyms, such as EasyGym, Fitspace Gyms, Gym London, The Gym Group and PureGym, allow members to pay for gym usage and fitness classes according to their needs.

Employers that are considering offering staff corporate gym membership as a benefit must first consult their workforce to ascertain whether it is relevant and of interest, and therefore justifiable as a benefits spend.

Effective communication will be key to maximising gym membership take-up by employees, and a variety of communication channels may be needed.

The facts

What are corporate gym memberships?

A corporate gym membership is a benefit that employers can offer employees either fully funded or at a discounted rate. It can be membership to a gym, health club or leisure centre, provided as a core, flexible or voluntary benefit.

Where can employers get more information?

Visit the healthcare and wellbeing channel

Who are the main providers?

There are no official statistics, but some of the biggest established market players include: David Lloyd, Fitness First, Incorpore, Nuffield Health and Virgin Active.

Statistics

32% percentage of employers offer corporate gym memberships on a voluntary basis.

(The Benefits Research 2013, Employee Benefits)

Sign up to our newsletters

Receive news and guidance on a range of HR issues direct to your inbox

OptOut
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

7% year-on-year growth of on-site gyms in UK operated by Nuffield Health.

(Nuffield Health)