Innovative Companies Impacting the Sports & Fitness Industry in the UK

For the first time I’ve compiled a purely personal list of some of the most innovative companies who have already, or will shortly, impact on the sports and fitness industry in the UK. It’s not meant to be exhaustive, just fun and maybe a little thought provoking. I’ve given each sector a name and picked one company I admire this week. 

Apps: Apple App Store, opened in 2008 and by 2015, 100 billion downloads had been recorded. Apple ignited the app revolution and the iOS ecosystem has created over 627,000 jobs. It is expected that the app economy will exceed $150 billion worldwide by 2020. Yes there really is an app for everything, or soon will be. 

BioTech: EnteroMedics, developer of vBloc, a neurometabolic therapy for disrupting the signals between the brain and stomach could fight obesity faster than HIIT. We always thought the magic pill would come first but BioTech seems to have done it. 

Data Science: Under Armour have invested heavily in UA Record and UA HealthBox to create your body’s dashboard. 

love them or hate them, DJI is the largest seller of consumer drones which enables race organisers and individuals to track and record activity from the sky, GoPro in the air.

Energy: SolarCity, there’s justifiable obsession with Elon Musk (Tesla Motors and SpaceX) who wants to reduce your energy costs with solar panels and he aims to make mass adoption possible. 

Enterprise Software: Slack, it’s free and it’s the creative home of our work lives, its real-time messaging for modern teams, simpler and more productive than email. 

Finance: Blockchain, a permissionless distributed database that’s upending traditional banking and the finance world, is now moving into other sectors including health and fitness. In 1999 few people had heard of or understood the ‘internet’ in 2016 its Blockchain. 

Hollywood: Netflix, the first global TV network that’s coming to a screen near your CV equipment and on your phone. 

Internet of Things: Cisco, estimate 15 billion items are already connected and by 2020 all fitness equipment (along with our fridges, cars, home, work and pets) will be connected to a sector worth $6.5 billion.

Kick Ass Kit: Sweaty Betty, created in 1998 and a British pioneer in activewear, go join the waiting lists for the free instore classes and outdoor runs. 

Twitter’s Periscope, has had a head start but bigger players from the online video space are moving into livestreaming so it could soon become a duopoly. Livestreaming of sports and fitness could become the norm by the end of the year.

Live Timetables: Active in Time, (AiT) had the idea of giving swimming pools, leisure and sports centres and studios free software to keep their timetables live, on websites, apps, and via APIs (application programming interface) print and voice. Once digital the link between live timetables and the consumer becomes seem less.  

Music: Spotify, it found the beat with Running, predict with Taste Rewind, discover with Found Them First, and an amazing 71% of listeners add at least one track from Discover Weekly. Fan Insights gives artists demographic and geographic analysis. Been listening whilst exercising recently, they know. Like they know what the most popular music genre, track, artist is in your city, town or village right now. 

New Media: Buzzfeed, for showing how content can go viral and teaching brands to create not sell. 

Photos: Instagram, many fitness sites are neglecting this highly engaging and superior indexing platform, why? The LeisureDB Social Media Fitness Index Q1 2016 shows the top 20 private fitness brands collectively have only 46,000 followers. Must try harder!

Retail: Amazon Echo and Prime, I just spoke to the future and it delivered! FOC fitness CDs (and some wine and treats) within the hour* – how do they do that? *One hour delivery only in central London at present. 

Social Media: Possibly the most widely used but most misunderstood term in 2016. Facebook, the only platform all fitness sites are on, the top 20 private fitness brands have almost 1 million followers (Leisuredb Social Media Fitness Index Q1 2016). In 2014 Facebook bought Moves, an app that keeps track of your daily exercise as part of its multi app strategy and now with move-o-scope you can map all your activity which looks pretty cool. 

Apple introduced the iPhone early 2007 and late 2008 the first phone to use Android was released. In less than ten years the smartphone has changed human behaviour in ways that few things could. The do-it-all smartphone has elbowed aside MP3 players, CDs, hard drives, calculators, paper maps, diaries, Blackberry, Nokia, cameras to name but a few. At the same time the smartphone has revolutionised the way consumers work, play sleep and wake up. 

Style: Everlane, radical transparency about costs, mark up, creative process and details of manufacturing factories with photos. The fitness industry could learn a lot from this openness and consumer engagement in the product. 

Video: YouTube, Randi Zuckerberg (Mark’s sister) put this as her number one social media channel, so checkout our ’60 Second UK Fitness News’ each week by subscribing to the ‘Fitness Industry UK’ channel. 

VR and AR: Oculus Rift, it’s almost two years to the month when Facebook announced it had purchased the virtual reality start up for around $2 billion. The first sports and fitness applications were at IHRSA, Florida in March and FIBO, Cologne in April. 

The future will be digital, customised, personalised and full of experiences to help you engage in more sports and fitness activities. 


David Minton

Director, The Leisure Database Company
Correspondent for SSF in London.