The ukactive Research Institute provides high quality, rigorous, and innovative research, evaluation, and business intelligence services that achieve sector, policy, and academic impact.
The aim of our data and insight function is to support our members and the wider sector through comprehensive market insight and regular, up-to-date, business intelligence reports at both sector and organisational level. Our research and evaluation function aims to contribute to the academic evidence-based about the use of exercise and physical activity programmes in the improvement of quality of life, prevention, and management of disease.

Our two primary objectives are to:

1. Bridge the evidence gap between traditional laboratory based ‘exercise is medicine’ research and pragmatic real-world interventions
2. Provide up to date and actionable business intelligence insight to drive strategy and business planning

We work with a diverse range of stakeholders and partners including leisure operators, local authorities, government agencies, wearable technology and equipment suppliers, and academic institutions to conduct in-depth analysis of physical activity initiatives, collecting and collating evidence from a wide variety of data sources utilising mixed methods, and situation suitable research designs.

How We Support our Members

We can provide a number of services for our members, including:

›› Research and Evaluation
›› Data and Insight
›› Business Performance Benchmarking
›› Consultation and Stakeholder Engagement

For more information on these please see the ‘Services’ page

Our Team

Jack Shakespeare

As Director of Children, Young People, Families and Research at ukactive, Jack is responsible for the agenda and direction of ukactive Kids, from research to policy, strategic projects and membership activation, and for the identity and leadership of the ukactive Research Institute. Jack is committed to championing the benefits of physical activity and raising the awareness and prominence of physical literacy, and has spent the last 18 years developing and implementing multi-stakeholder physical activity campaigns and projects for children, young people & families, working nationally and internationally to activate school and community environments. An outdoor adventure pursuer and keen trail runner, Jack is a public advocate of physical activity and its societal importance.

Matthew Wade

Dr Matthew Wade is Head of Research at ukactive. Working across ukactive’s strategic pillars, Matthew promotes and supports best practice for data collection, analysis, and reporting ensuring an evidence-based approach to practice and policy. Matthew has extensive experience of physical activity-based research and evaluation across various populations. This involves the design and delivery of research and evaluation projects on behalf of numerous local authorities, Clinical Commissioning Groups, charities, physical activity providers, governing bodies and large brands. Examples include leading on the design, implementation and reporting of the Scottish Care Inspectorate’s Care about Physical Activity programme, the ‘Sense, Active Together’ programme, the ‘British Active Students Survey’, Buckinghamshire County Council’s Active Bucks initiative, Essex County Council’s commissioning of Let's Get Moving. Matthew is experienced in collecting short-term as well as longitudinal quantitative and qualitative data and in designing bespoke questionnaires using appropriate, well-established and veracious measures. Matthew’s PhD thesis provided an evaluation of a community-based intervention grounded in Motivational Interviewing that aimed to improve physical activity and mental wellbeing.

Alex Lucas

Alex is a Senior Research Analyst with the ukactive Research Institute. She is experienced in both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis and leads and supports on a wide variety of the ukactive Research Institute measurement and evaluation projects. She specialised in qualitative data collection and analysis, which includes conducting and delivering consultations, focus groups, and interviews and completing in-depth, translatable and ad hoc analysis for reports. She works on projects across the life course, however leads on all workforce related research projects. Alex has a background in psychology and is currently furthering her development by simultaneously undertaking a Doctorate in Sports and Exercise Psychology with the University of Portsmouth and is a Practitioner Sports & Exercise Psychologist. Her area of specialism focuses on the psychological determinants of behaviour change and the role workplace culture plays in impacting employee physical activity participation.

Lizzie Broughton

Lizzie is Senior Insight Manager at the ukactive Research Institute where she heads up the Data and Insight function. This involves managing data collection, organisation, and analysis processes across a variety of projects covering the full breadth of the organisations that ukactive work with. Lizzie is responsible for providing members with access to up-to-date, relevant and information on the latest trends and behaviours across the sector through business intelligence reporting. Alongside this Lizzie works with organisations to understand their individual data needs, and works with their data to produce actionable insight to guide business decisions. Lizzie has also undertaken local area consultations, engaging key stakeholders within a locality, to gather the information required to be able to develop plans for facility and programme development. Outside of work Lizzie competes for Great Britain in marathon and sprint kayaking.

Hannah Clark

Hannah supports the team as Assistant Data Analyst, combining her studies in NGO Management with previous experience in both public and third sector research roles. Hannah has worked as a Monitoring and Evaluation Intern and as an Assistant Analyst for the University of East London. Her skills include quantitative and qualitative data collection, analysis, report writing and open-source research. Hannah recently provided the desk-based research and analysis in the successful delivery of a project with property developer L&Q, produced a literature review and product landscape map on drowning detection systems commissioned by Sport England, and has conducted data analysis from 955 gym/leisure centre sites for ukactive’s sector-facing benchmarking report.

James Steele

Dr James Steele is the Principal Investigator at the ukactive Research Institute, and Associate Professor of Sport and Exercise Science at Solent University. He has extensive research and consultancy experience in physical activity, exercise, and sport; working with elite athletes across a range of sports, the general population across the lifespan, and both those who are healthy and diseased. James was a member of the Expert Working Group revising the CMO Physical Activity Guidelines for the UK and the Expert Committee for Communications, and is a Founding Member of both the Strength and Conditioning Society, and the Society for Transparency, Openness, and Replication in Kinesiology.

For details on James's research please visit https://www.researchgate.net/profile/James_Steele4

Rachel Lawson

Rachel is a Project Manager at ukactive with expertise in planning and successfully implementing research and evaluation projects in the health and wellbeing sector. She is PRINCE2® practitioner certified and is experienced in managing multi-stakeholder, cross-organisational projects involving academic institutions, charities, local authorities, Royal Colleges, NHS Trusts, and executive agencies.

Strategic Partners