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London luxury gyms in crisis as Equinox plunges to £18 million loss

Kensington Equinox
Kensington Equinox

There are growing signs London’s luxury fitness market is in crisis after high-end gym club Equinox posted an £18 million loss and warned on its future in the UK.

The firm, which has three sites in Kensington, Bishopsgate and St James’s and is popular with celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian, warned that there was ‘material uncertainty’ as to its status as a going concern and it was reliant on funds from its larger US parent to continue trading.

Equinox, which charges as much as £350 per month for a membership, turned over revenues of less than £15 million in 2022 as losses widened and it shed hundreds of members compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The firm’s plans to open a fourth site in Shoreditch, which it first announced in 2016, have never materialised, while a cycling studio group it owns, SoulCycle, was taken to court by Cadogan Estates earlier this year for failing to pay rent on a site in Chelsea which it never managed to open after three years. A Cadogan spokesperson yesterday told the Standard the firm reached a settlement with SoulCycle shortly before the court case was set to begin.

The Standard also found that:

  • Luxury gym club 1 Rebel, which has 11 sites including in Angel and St John’s Wood and charges up to £240 per month for a membership, warned in accounts filed in March it had millions of pounds of debt maturing this year that could bring down the company if it were not refinanced.

  • Another luxury gym, KX Life in Chelsea, warned in accounts filed in March its future was uncertain as it needed to find an extra £400,000 in funding before the end of 2023 or risk defaulting on loans owed to Metro Bank, after it posted a £2.7 million loss.

  • GymBox, which has sites in Bank and Farringdon and charges up to £153 for a monthly membership, in January said it had taken out a £2.5 million loan to finance operations after it made a loss of £8.8 million.

  • Body Machine, a high-end fitness studio set up in 2019 to serve the residents of Kensington, entered insolvency in September last year.

It comes as premium cycle machine firm Peloton saw its shares tank 22% yesterday after it posted a loss of $242 million as sales slipped.

The difficulties facing the luxury fitness market stand in stark contrast to more affordable gyms, which have seen their membership numbers creep up over the same period.

PureGym yesterday posted a 17% jump in sales and cheered membership growth in new gyms performing ahead of plan.

An analysis shared by PureGym suggested that as many as 40,000 members of premium UK gyms traded down to low-cost alternatives between 2022 and 2023. That would equate to a £100 million drop in trade for the luxury gym market, assuming an average membership fee of around £200.

One market analyst told the Standard: “People trade down from premium to low-cost memberships because the majority of activity that takes place in gyms is actually using the gym equipment.

“People in premium gyms who only use that equipment, who are subsidising say a swimming pool they don’t use, find that the low-cost clubs actually have more gym equipment, while the money saved from the high membership fee could be better spent on a personal trainer.”