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Steven Ward, ukactive Executive Director, said: “These latest figures from Sport England reflect an encouraging trend towards a more active nation and underline the integral role that the bedrock of ukactive – the health club and leisure centre operators – play in driving physical activity across the country. It is the backbone of participation in this country and it is now getting the recognition that its contribution to an Active Nation deserves.

“With over 286,400 extra participants in the past 12 months alone, this growth represents the gathering trend towards gym-based activity that we’ve seen across the entire sector. The jump in activity levels – particularly among women – reflects the quality, flexibility, and diversity of programmes our members from this part of the sector provide and validates our belief that this part of the sector is primed to deliver further sustained growth across the public and private sector.

“It is vital that we can consolidate this momentum by exploring new, collaborative initiatives to expand our ongoing working relationships with Government and Sport England to support our shared ambition to deliver a more active nation.”