My Column

Healthy hike in discount works out

  • Date: Monday 23rd September 2019
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At the start of the year, getting a space to yourself in the gym can be an absolute nightmare.

Thousands of ‘new year, new me’ health-conscious Scots are suddenly found cluttering up treadmills, exercise bikes, and rowing machines across the country, all in an effort to shed the festive pounds while getting buff and beautiful.

But of course, not everyone lasts the pace. Those resolutions soon go out of the window, and by February they’re dropping like flies. 

However, this habit of hitting and quitting the gym appears to rapidly be becoming a thing of the past as discount gyms and fitness chains continue to pop up around the country, making it affordable to retain that membership for longer.

Apparently many of us are also dedicating ourselves to leading a healthier lifestyle as we increasingly look to ‘live our best life’, with cheap and easy ways to stay fit resulting in a massive leap of 10.6 per cent in gym membership figures.

Simultaneously, that has created a very healthy groundswell of demand for fitness and alternative property investors.

With over 20 PureGym locations already in the likes of Glasgow, Edinburgh and as far north as Aberdeen, in turn creating a lot of heated competition among providers, you’d expect that smaller home grown gyms and health clubs would be sweating as much as their patrons, but that simply isn’t the case.

Indeed, Scottish gym operator Gym 64 has spent the year warming up for big things. It launched its third Fife centre in June with a £1.2million site investment, bringing its full staff roster up to 100 staff members across all sites.

They’re clearly flexing their muscles in front of the competition and they’re not the only ones seeing the benefits with The Gym Group also popping up more regularly across city centres and even rural towns.

According to Edinburgh-based business property specialist Christie & Co, research has found that gyms and health clubs are an increasingly attractive property opportunity, partly because they don’t appear to strain as much under the economic pressures faced by other commercial properties.

Christie & Co’s Alternatives Investment Index discovered that this surge has bulked up the average yield on prime investments of this kind as much as 7.5 per cent in the first half of the year alone.

This has combined with the fact that it’s a surprisingly simple market to enter, with only a quarter of Scottish health clubs owned by the UK’s top 10 key gym brand operators.

It shouldn’t be too hard therefore to work out why Scottish business investors are leaping at the chance.

The good news for Scotland doesn’t end there. Further research by Savills has also found that we’re on track for a record-breaking year for the commercial property market as a whole, with approximately £575 million being spent across the country since January.

The experts think that this actually gives the country a bit more of a head start in the commercial property race when compared to other parts of the UK.

So I feel that it’s time to embrace the fact that Scots are increasingly sticking to those new year resolutions, not only for healthier minds and bodies, but a healthier economy for the country overall.

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Last week spelled good news for technologists in the West of Scotland, with not one but two global employers underlining their intentions for long-term futures in the region. 


For one, computing giant Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) waded in on the looming topic of Brexit, affirming its commitment to Renfrewshire - where it refurbishes technology – whatever the eventual outcome of negotiations with Brussels. 


A spokesperson for the firm cited both confidence in its expertise and its robust planning to weather deal or no deal scenarios.  


Likewise, US financial services giant JPMorgan Chase announced it would quite literally be laying the foundations of its future in Glasgow in the months ahead, with the creation of a brand new base for its army of technologists in the city. 


Not only will its new premises provide scope to grow its already 2000-strong workforce and reinforce the American firm’s 20-year presence in the city, this story caught my eye for another reason, too.  


The building itself – to be based in the International Financial Services District - will be one of the first constructed under a new resource efficiency policy from the Glasgow City Development Plan, which goes further than other UK cities in its commitment to energy efficiency and reduced emissions.  


It will be kitted out with LED lights, responsibly sourced materials, and will minimise water consumption - and the 13-storey base will have 350 bicycle spaces, compared to just 12 spots for cars.  


With a world-class workforce and standards, it’s brilliant to see that Scotland continues to attract and retain world-class firms. 

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Not only has the Toy Story franchise brought untold joy to children and adults across the world for the last couple of decades, it seems it has also helped boost profits at a major Scottish employer this year. 


The fourth Toy Story instalment, released this summer, was among a number of films to inspire increased sales at the Finsbury group, owner of cake-makers Lightbody and Johnstone’s in South Lanarkshire. 


The parent firm saw an uplift of almost four per cent in its year-on-year sales, and its CEO said the figures instilled confidence in its financial footing, despite a coinciding drop in operating profit. 

It seems this is one firm reaching for the sky. 

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Last week heralded the beginning of the end of an era for fast food chains Burger King and McDonald’s.


No more, it seems, will their kids’ meals come with a prerequisite plastic toy. 


In fact, Burger King has removed these often discarded items from its children’s meals altogether, while McDonalds will allow customers to swap the trinkets out for fruit or books in the coming months. 


The companies have taken the step in a bid to reduce plastic waste and in the wake of petitions against the practice. 


Yes, customers might experience a fleeting pang of sadness at the thought of this children’s meal staple slowly disappearing - but, while it's a bold move by the chains, I think it’s the right one. 

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